Cowland estimates the global market for omega-3s at $34 billion in 2013, with fortified milk formula accounting for the lion’s share of that pie. Cowland gathered her data for a presentation on the market for William Reed’s recent Nutritional Lipids and Oils event, which is available on demand here .
Fish oils trail only protein among supplements
Among supplements, fish oil omega-3s are the second fastest growing category globally behind protein supplements, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.4% in the 2008-2013 time period with an absolute growth of $1.7 billion. These sources of omega-3s were by far the fastest growing category of supplements in Australia (with a 2008-2013 CAGR of 41.5%) and Latin America (27.8%).
In North America, fish oil omega-3 supplements trailed probiotics and protein supplements, but still showed an impressive CAGR of 17.3%, Cowland said.
Even with these impressive growth rates, the opportunity remains large, Cowland said. Using GOED data, Cowland showed how three populous nations that are strong supplement markets, namely China, Japan and the United States, are all deficient in omega-3s intake when measured against the recommended intakes in those countries. And this is true even in the case of Japan, where per capita fish consumption is high.
Other deficient countries include Argentina, Brazil and the Netherlands.
Negative study likely to be merely a blip
This strong demand means that growth is expected to continue at its strong pace, Cowland said. Her data is not recent enough to include the flattening of the market in the US that some have observed which is associated with a recent negative study linking omega-3s with heightened prostate cancer risk , but Cowland advised listeners not to worry. “I expect whatever effect it might have will be temporary,” she said.
Omega-3 fortified foods and beverages positioned to take advantage of health claims will have a bright future, Cowland said. Those targeting heart health, where consumers can expect to see more immediate benefits in terms of blood parameters, will perform the best, with this segment of the market expected to be worth $8 billion by 2018, Cowland said.
Other health indications, such as vision health and brain health, will be dominiated by supplements, which consumers assoicate with delivering longer term benefits, she said. Both of the these health indicaitons are expected to plug along in the $500 million annual global range through 2018, she said.
Click here to listen to another presentation in the event, titled The Importance of nutritional lipids for mood and behavior .