Omega-3 foods will favor EPA/DHA over ALA, predicts report

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Omega-3 fatty acid

Fish-derived omega-3s are set to overtake plant-based sources as the preferred forms of the essential fatty acids used in food and beverage fortification, according to a new report.

Published by Packaged Facts this month, Omega Fatty Acids: Trends in the Worldwide Food and Beverage Markets ​predicts that the market for omega-3-fortified foods is far from saturated, although growth is slowing.

“The upsurge of products enriched with omega fatty acids began in earnest in 2006 and the market is believed to be many years away from saturation. Marketers didn’t really start touting the omega-3 content of enhanced foods until late 2004, and even once products entered the retail scene it wasn’t until early 2006 that such products appeared in mainstream US supermarkets,”​ said Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts.

However, as the landscape matures there is likely to be a shift in the way omega-3-fortified products are developed and marketed.

More EPA/DHA focus

The longer chain EPA and DHA omega-3s, which are primarily derived from fish and which are the forms with the strongest scientific substantiation, have already started to claim a bigger share of the market than the plant-based ALA omega-3s.

This is put down to advances in technology that allow for easier fortification without any fishy aftertaste, as well as a growing consumer awareness.

By 2012, Packaged Facts estimates that EPA/DHA-enhanced foods will represent nearly 78 percent of all omega-3-enhanced food and beverage product sales in the US. This reflects a 20 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2007 and 2012.

ALA product sales, expected to have increased from 2007 to 2008, will flatten and then decrease over the next three years as food and beverage formulators switch to EPA/DHA, said Packaged Facts.

In 2012, sales of EPA/DHA-fortified food are predicted to increase by 9 percent from 2007 to reach $5.7bn, while sales of ALA-fortified foods will decrease 17 percent to $1.3bn.

Market growth

The overall market for omega-3 foods and drinks grew 34 percent between 2006 and 2007, from $3bn to almost $5bn.

This reflects a reduction in growth as the market starts to mature, and compares to growth rates of 43, 71 and 105 percent in 2006, 2005 and 2004 respectively.

However, growth will remain strong at 32 percent (CAGR) to 2012, when sales are predicted to reach $8bn.

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