New GOED director Ellen Schutt aims to reinforce omega-3s message with healthcare professionals

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

New GOED director Ellen Schutt aims to reinforce omega-3s message with healthcare professionals
As GOED enters a new era under new executive director Ellen Schutt, the goal will be to maintain the group’s already considerable momentum, expand outreach and the group's membership base, and to prepare for the impending release of data from a high-profile, long term study.

GOED, or the Global Organization of EPA and DHA Omega-3s, was formed in 2007. The group represents a gamut of companies in the omega-3s game, be they fish oil producers, companies focused on algae production, or newer players harvesting krill or other marine biomasses. The group’s success in bringing this diverse and potentially fractious roster together to support a common message has served as a roadmap for other trade groups that have formed around single ingredients.

Keeping a good thing going

Before Schutt, who until recently was the group’s communications manager, the organization had but one executive director—Adam Ismail. Ismail left the organization earlier this year to take a role with German firm KD Pharma, which manufactures pharmaceutical grade omega-3s as well as dietary ingredients via its subsidiary Marine Ingredients.

Schutt said being promoted from within had the advantage of not having to pitch a change program to the organization’s board of directors.

“I think GOED is in a really good place. I think Adam did a wonderful job in the 11 years since our inception,” ​Schutt said.

The omega-3s sector had suffered through a soft patch in sales starting in about 2013. The worst of that seems to have passed, and projections are for moderate growth in the near term. Part of the turnaround was aided by the national “Always Omega 3”​ ad campaign aimed at consumers that developed by GOED staff and funded by members.

Schutt said it was a reminder that the category cannot rest on its laurels. Going forward, the intent is to move beyond communicating directly with consumers. The plan is to influence the people who influence them by ramping up education efforts with health care professionals.

“The main change is that we will be doing a lot more education with health care practitioners,” ​Schutt said. “People go to their doctors for advice. We want to make sure that doctors and other practitioners understand the benefits of these ingredients so that they can communicate that to their patients.”

Gearing up for VITAL trial release

Ellen Schutt, new executive director of GOED.

In addition to these proactive elements, Schutt said GOED has to plan to play defense, too. There is a long term trial involving omega-3s that is nearing publication. Called the VITAL study, the trial is looking to see whether an intervention of 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 along with 1 gram of Omacor fish oil daily will reduce the risk for developing cancer, heart disease, and stroke in people who do not have a prior history of these illnesses. The study, which started in 2010, is being conducted at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

The study is large scale, with more than 25,000 subjects. But GOED’s concern is that even at that size the study design may not provide sufficient statistical power and does not use a high enough dose to reach some of its preliminary endpoints.

“They are looking for as much as a 20% reduction in these risks,” ​Schutt said. “We are expecting they will see about an 8% to 10% reduction, which is great, but depending on how they report it, it might be on the border of statistical significance.”

Schutt said the concern then would be how the abstract is written and how that then gets reported in the mainstream press. Seeing headlines such as “Omega-3s don’t work” ​is an all too likely scenario, she said.

To try to keep that from happening, GOED has developed a rapid response list of reporters, Schutt said. Officials from GOED were in New York recently for what Schutt called a “mini media tour.”​ The challenge there, she said, is to engage overworked reporters when there is no immediate news hook on which to hang the outreach. The organization also conducted an informational dinner for a group of dietitians who are often quoted in the media, she said.

Future growth opportunities

As far as the future growth of GOED is concerned, Schutt said the organization has pretty much covered the waterfront as far as suppliers are concerned. She said the membership numbers are “stable,” ​but she sees increased opportunity for bringing retailers and finished goods brands into the fold.

“We will be concentrating on the finished products or CPG companies. We are building a lot of consumer facing assets that will be of interest to CPG companies,” ​Schutt said.

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