The problem of adding omega-3 to foods and avoiding a fishy taste or smell has occupied some of the best R&D minds in the industry in recent years. With its new SuperCoat Omega-3 microencapsulation technology, The Wright Group now joins the ranks of those that seem to present a solution.
Omega-3 is notoriously difficult to work with as it is highly unstable. If oxidation occurs, the food product can be tainted with a fishy taste and smell - even if it actually contains vegetarian or microalgae-derived oil in place of fish oil.
By delivering it in a microencapsulating dry powder, however, The Wright Group's new product is said to help prevent oxidation, thereby increasing shelf-life.
Louisiana-based The Wright Group counts custom nutrient premixes, standard enrichments and direct compressible granulations amongst its services for the industry.
Its SuperCoat microencapsulation is also suitable for other nutrients that have sensory issues, to improve durability in extreme temperature processes, provide flexibility in payloat and coating, and enable sustained and time-release of nutrients, especially in supplement applications.
President and CEO Sam Wright told NutraIngredients-USA.com that the new product will help drive growth in premix sales, since it can be included in a premix batch.
"Our whole marketing movement is to take the things that we do and bundle them together into a solution."
This means that SuperCoat Omega-3 adds value to The Wright Group's product offering for existing customers, and is also attracting new business.
The powder can be custom-made to suit the client's needs, with between ten and 18 percent omega-3 and a carrier material of choice.
Wright said that the technology is used for fish oils only and there are no plans to apply it to vegetarian sources of omega-3 such as flaxseed oil because of bioavailability issues. Whereas fish oil contains both DHA and EPA, plant-derived oils contain only a precursor, ALA. This must be converted by the human body before it can be used, and it delivers only about eight percent of the DHA that would be gained from consuming DHA in the first place.
The Wright Group used the opportunity of FiE in Paris this week to launch Super-Coat Omega-3 on a global basis.
It has had a presence in Europe for the past five years, but is currently stepping up its activities in the continent, with plans for a new manufacturing plant in Denmark.
Although at the moment the bulk of The Wright Group's business remains in the US, it wants to be "globally balanced".
Senior advisor John Waldron said: "As our customers are becoming more global, we have to become more global."
The company also sells its products in Asia through agents.
In particular, functional foods are seen as a major fixture in its future - both in the US, where the market has grown by between seven and eight percent a year over the last three years, and in Europe.
The aging population and drive to cut health care costs mean that both consumers and health professionals are becoming tuned into a new approach to wellness - that is, preventing disease rather than treating it. This universal trend is creating a massive opportunity for functional food makers.
But Wright said that many of the omega-3 containing products currently on the market need some help with taste issues. There are immediate opportunities for SuperCoat Omega-3 in improving products, as well as for inclusion in new products on the market.
It is thought that some of the first uses may be in the bakery arena. This was also an early target for Canadian omega-3 player Ocean Nutrition Canada, which also offers microencapsulated fish oil.
ONC's Meg-3 was used in products launched earlier this year by three major US bread manufacturers, including New York-based Wegmans Food Markets and The Baker, based in New Jersey. Since then, it has found its way into a number of other product types, such as yogurts, milk and chews.