Igene signs accord on pigment to give farm salmon pink hue


A Columbia company that holds the patent for a natural pigment that gives farm-raised salmon the glow of their pink, wild cousins expects to sign a licensing agreement with the nation's largest yeast maker.

Igene Biotechnology Inc. signed a letter of intent yesterday with Burns Philp Food Inc. of San Francisco. Igene, whose astaxanthin can be added to the food of farm-raised salmon, will receive royalties from Burns Philp, but the exact amount was not disclosed.

In exchange, Burns Philp, maker of Fleischmann's yeast, receives the exclusive manufacturing rights.

Burns Philp also has pledged to buy 200,000 newly issued shares of Igene stock at 75 cents a share, if the deal is approved by its board. Igene has 12.5 million shares outstanding as of Sept. 30, 1992.

The potential worldwide market for the product is estimated at $100 million, but Stephen F. Hiu, president of Igene, said he did not know how many fish farms would use the product.

Igene is still trying to get federal approval to sell the product in the United States. Mr. Hiu said the largest markets are outside this country, where Igene already has approval.

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