Cargill shelves omega-3 (for now)

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cargill

Biotech giant, Cargill, has ceased work on its nascent fish oil-sourced omega-3 offering less than two years after it debuted with a high-profile launch in May, 2007.

The ingredient was conspicuous by its absence at the recent Expo West trade show in Anaheim and afterwards a Cargill spokesperson contacted by said the unbranded ingredient was “no longer under development” ​as the company focused its healthy nutrient efforts on some of its other offerings such as phytosterols, inulin, alternative sweeteners, beta-glucan and ARA (arachidonic acid).

“We are not pushing omega-3 right now,”​ the Cargill spokesperson said. “It is a good product but it is still in the development stage and we are retrenching our efforts to focus on other aspects of our portfolio.”

He said the ingredient’s temporary shelving should not be considered a failure because “it takes a long time to bring an ingredient to market”​ and development processes varied in the manner of their execution.

A similarly long process was apparent with Cargill’s branded beta-glucan ingredient, Barliv, which debuted in a US pear juice last week after several years in development.

Slipping the net

Cargill’s decision arrives at a time when the omega-3 supply market is growing at​24.3 per cent annually, and set to be valued at $1.6bn by 2014, according to analyst, Frost & Sullivan.

When Cargill launched the ingredient at the 2007 Vitafoods trade show in Geneva, Switzerland, to much hoopla, there was concern among existing omega-3 players that the ingredients giant would quickly become a big fish in the area.

It employed an omega-3 product manager and played up its green sourcing and formulation potential but the fears have, until now, proven unfounded despite a climate where scientific backing for the ingredient’s heart, brain and other health benefits has continued to mount, along with consumer interest.

Cargill’s preliminary studies showed doses up to 150mg per serving could be economically added to a wide variety of foods and beverages with no discernible change in flavor or shelf life. But technology advances mean such levels have become more common across the food industry.

At the time of its launch, Cargill product manager, Dave Lewis, stated the company was attempting to resolve such formulation issues with its ingredient that was sourced from trout and saithe and offered a 1:1 EPA/DHA ratio. It said it was focusing on breads and yogurts as well as other applications.

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