Omega-3 sector to grow despite regulatory and technical gaps, report

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acid

Despite regulatory, technology and environmental challenges, the marine and algal omega-3 market presents immense growth opportunities to manufacturers, claims a new Frost & Sullivan report tracking the sector.

Trade association, the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega 3s (GOED), commissioned the report from the market analysts to evaluate, for the first time, the global omega-3 ingredients market, which the publication currently puts at $1.2bn.

The analysts estimate global consumption of marine and algal omega-3 ingredients last year at 71,452 tonnes with North America the largest consumer at 26,948 tonnes, followed by Asia-Pacific at 21,145 tonnes, the EU at 13,596 tonnes and the rest of the world at 5,762 tonnes.

‘The growth rate has averaged 30-40 percent annually during the last few years. We still expect significant growth in the next several years,’​ said Chris Shanahan, an analyst with Frost & Sullivan.

He said while there is robust and expanding scientific evidence of health benefits for marine and algal oil EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic) based omega-3 ingredients, the rejection of several health claims for omega-3 ingredients in Europe is resulting in increasing consumer skepticism and this is a constraint to the growth of the market in that geography that needs to be managed.

Marine oils, claims the report, are expected to continue dominating the overall omega-3 EPA and DHA market, with concentrates anticipated to witness significant growth, both in terms of volume and value due to continued penetration in the pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements arena.

The report indicates that emerging regions are expected to grow fastest in terms of sales of omega-3 ingredients and will account for 40 per cent of the market by 2013.

According to Shanahan, first mover advantage in the developing economies such as India will pay large dividends.

The food and beverage industry is likely to witness an increasing number of new products containing omega-3 ingredients in the next five years but innovation in this area has been hindered by the economic downturn in 2009.

“There have been fewer new functional food and drink releases this year and this is restricting consumer awareness of the benefits of these products,”​ said the analyst.

Shanahan said that fortified food manufacturers should focus on technological partnerships to extend the use of omega-3 ingredients in food and improve its compatibility in the food matrix.

He said that the condition specific health markets for omega-3 ingredients such as cognitive health, joint health, and immune health are set to experience substantial growth during the course of the forecast period, 2008 to 2013.

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