Technology fuels omega-3 growth

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Songsak Paname
Getty Images / Songsak Paname

Related tags omega-3 Gencor Pharmako Fish oil supplements

Fortune Business Insights’ recent report predicts the increasing demand for omega-3 in nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and the functional foods sector is creating lucrative growth opportunities for the global omega-3 fatty acids market.

The report​ noted that rising penetration of omega-3 in the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) market, increasing awareness of chronic diseases, expanding the application scope of omega 3, and regulations favoring the usage of omega-3 in infant formulations are a few examples that are supporting this market growth.

Technological progress

Advances in technology are contributing to market growth in a big way. 

According to Fortune Business Insights’ report, “One of the major factors supporting the omega-3 fatty acids market growth is ongoing technological advancements that improve the delivery and absorption of these substances in the body. The development of lipid-based supplements remains a challenging endeavor due to its unpredictable absorption rate and bioavailability. Various studies suggest that several factors can limit the uptake of this type of fatty acid in the body.”

Leaders invest in research 

“The key players in the market are investing huge capitals in research and development in the integration of technology that will improve the bioavailability of omega-3 in the body,”​ noted the report. “For instance, in October 2019, Pharmako Biotechnologies launched a new Aquacelle self-emulsifying drug delivery system that boosts oral omega-3 absorption by six-fold as compared to the standard fish oil.”

Indeed, Eric Meppem, Commercial Director and Co-founder, Pharmako Biotechnologies, said bioavailability plays two major roles in the omega-3 market. 

“Firstly, from an efficacy perspective, it improves the results and the way omega-3 is supplemented. Improving the absorption of omega-3s into blood makes products more efficacious, meaning consumers are more likely to get the correct dose. Pharmako Biotechnologies produces AquaCelle formulations which are patent-pending, clinically-validated self micro-emulsifying drug delivery systems (SMEDDS), specifically designed to increase the bioavailability of lipophilic actives.”

“Secondly, improving the bioavailability of omega-3s means a more sustainable use of resources,” ​continued Meppem. “Answering this key challenge of the sustainability of fish stocks and other marine resources is vital for the ongoing viability of the segment. It is also a major concern for many consumers.”

Getting through to consumers 

Meppem said achieving bioavailability is one thing, conveying it to consumers is another. “Consumers who take omega-3 supplements are not unfamiliar with absorption or bioavailability. Many became aware of the concept several years ago when krill oil  entered the segment. Unfortunately, brand companies in several international markets at the time did not communicate or explain this concept very well. To explain it, companies need to keep it simple, and support claims with human pharmacokinetic studies.”

Meppem told NutraIngredients-USA that Pharmako explains the concept to new customers by demonstrating fish oil in a beaker or glass of water and comparing it to AquaCelle-fish oil in a similar vessel of water. “By showing how AquaCelle ‘self-microemulsifies,’ people can appreciate the difference in how the fish oil is absorbed in the aqueous environment of the human gastro-intestinal tract.”


AquaCelle’s six-time absorption system was demonstrated in a human pharmacokinetic study ​funded by Pharmako and conducted at the University of Queensland, published in the European Journal of Nutrition.

The growing awareness among consumers about the health benefits of omega-3, particularly those of polyunsaturated fatty acids, is boosting the global market. The increased focus on preventive healthcare is a major driver for the market, as well as new benefits that are being discovered. 

“New studies are being published into new benefits derived from supplementation with omega-3s,” ​noted Meppem. “These include more studies and emerging research on segments apart from the traditional cardiovascular and joint health segments, such as cognitive and brain health, and even the protection of the brain from impact in contact sports.”


The global omega-3 fatty acids market size was $1.45 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach $1.92 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 3.89% during the forecast period of 2020-2027.

Meppem also expects to see the omega-3 supplementation segment continue to grow, “Particularly as many brands are now offering more efficacious and easier to take products based on novel delivery systems. These new offerings not only benefit consumers and the environment, but also bring better margins back to a segment that has been commoditized in almost every market around the world.”

Latest in omega-3s research

To hear more about the latest research in the omega-3s field, tune in to NutraIngredients-USA's free webinar schedule for  Sept. 24 at 11:30 AM Central time.  The event will feature an all-star panel consisting of Dr. William S. Harris of the University of South Dakota, Dr. Philip Calder of the University of Southampton in the UK and Dr Jeffry Bland of the Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute.  For more information and to register, visit the event's home page​. 

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