Data from a survey of 1,200 current dietary supplement consumers indicated that only one in four consumers are aware of non-fish sources of omega-3, but when made aware of plant-based alternatives, 64% of consumers said they would prefer a plant-based omega-3 if it was an option.
Eighty-four percent of the survey’s respondents were current or previous omega-3 users, and 64% were Gen Z and Millennials, and these younger consumers – and those who identified as health enthusiasts – embrace biotechnology. This is good news for Nuseed and its Nutriterra oil, which is derived from canola genetically engineered to produce higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, C22:6 n-3).
“There is a belief that the omega-3 category is mature, yet more than 83% of Americans are deficient in these essential nutrients, indicating room for growth. Our research reveals the perspectives that have kept consumers from meeting their daily recommended intake and the motivations that will invigorate this category.” say Benita Boettner, Global Nuseed Nutritional General Manager.
Alternatives to fish oil
The survey also found that two-thirds of consumers cited ocean health as a top concern. As demand for omega-3s continues to rise and pressures on fish stocks increase, alternative sources are being explored from algae to copepods and genetically engineered oil seed crops, such as canola and camelina.
Nuseed has estimated that one hectare of its omega-3 canola has the potential to provide the omega-3 yield from 10,000 kgs of wild caught fish.
The oil has received approval from Health Canada for human consumption and earlier this year Nuseed announced that the US Food and Drug Administration had reviewed its filing on its Nutriterra Total Omega-3 ingredient and concurred that it qualified as a new dietary ingredient and was reasonably expected to be safe.
The company partners with US canola producers in Montana and North Dakota, Katrina Benedicto, Marketing & Communications Director – Nuseed Nutritional, told NutraIngredients-USA.
The oil offers a unique fatty acid profile, added Benedicto, and provides 330 mg of omega-3 per gram of oil.
“Nuseed’s advanced biotechnology allows canola to complete the pathway from Oleic Acid to DHA with enzymatic reactions inherent to microalgae. There is a total of seven omega-3s expressed in the oil, and the mix is DHA+EPA and ALA forward. The mix is at least 10% DHA+EPA, similar to some fish oils, plus 20% ALA, which is double the ALA content of conventional canola,” she explained.
“A significant benefit of the technology is that the omega-6:omega-3 ratio is improved from 2:1 to 1:4, which can help restore balance to the modern diet. In a recent two-phase clinical study, we demonstrate that Nutriterra is bioavailable and effective at raising blood levels of omega-3s, so the benefits consumers expect from fish oil are now available from a plant-based oil.
“While the DHA+EPA in Nutriterra is comparable to many available fish oils, the benefits of a total omega-3 in a single, plant-based source are creating a new segment in the omega-3 category.”
Despite the biotech plant-based omega-3 category being in its infancy, Nuseed has the supply available for the right branded partner to launch a Nutriterra Total Omega-3 product immediately, added Benedicto.
“We would love to see Nutriterra available to consumers in 2022, and our consumer research shows that there is untapped demand for our plant-based innovation,” she said.