Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats important for the body to function normally. They deliver multiple health benefits like protection against Alzheimer’s and heart disease, lowering stiffness and joint pain due to Rheumatoid Arthritis and reducing symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children, among others. Of significant importance is its role in infant development and life-long brain, eye and cardiovascular health.
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Omega 3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA are mainly found in fish while ALA is found in nuts and seeds. Consumer products with omega 3 can be divided into dietary supplements and functional foods, clinical nutrition & beverage, pet foods, infant formula and pharmaceuticals.
Rising consumer awareness about maintaining a balanced diet regime for disease-free living and the health benefits offered by omega 3 fatty acids are the main drivers of demand for omega 3 products. People are increasingly including omega 3 fatty acids into their diet in the form of fresh seafood, functional foods and supplements. Existing applications of omega 3 are penetrating new markets and new applications are also being found, leading to steady market development. Approvals from various health bodies like the American Dietetic Association and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are also expected to fuel growth.
Fish oil is the main source of omega 3 ingredients. However, its foul odor and distinctive taste negatively affects consumer perception and hampers demand. Also, limited global supply of fish oil is a challenge area. The fishery capacity of EPA and DHA has undergone change with higher reliance on fewer fisheries in recent years. A lack of Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) standard has also hindered market growth.
Key application segment based on market share is supplements and functional foods. This accounted for more than half of the total omega 3 market in 2012. Infant formula is another leading application segment expected to experience the fastest growth due to high demand coming from developing economies of Asia as well as Eastern Europe, Middle East and Latin America. Endorsements from official agencies have led to rising number of working women seeking quality and convenient nutrition in the form of formula, thereby fueling market growth.
The developed markets of North America and Europe drove most of the demand for omega 3 in 2012. Europe, with more than half of the global market share, was the market leader and North America stood in second place. The European Food Safety Authority has set the dietary reference values (DRVs) of omega 3 fatty acids to 250mg daily in order to reduce the risk of heart disease. In 2010, EU formulated new rules for omega 3 labeling with the intent of educating consumers regarding the quantity of EPA and DHA present in a product. This led to the introduction of new products. Panels of the US and Canadian governments recently selected DHA and EPA for Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) review. Favorable regulations regarding the inclusion of omega 3 in functional food and infant formula will trigger future demand in these regions.
Emerging economies of Asia Pacific are likely to experience the fastest growth in the coming years. Growing population in these regions will lead to higher demand for infant formula thereby increasing the market for omega 3 fatty acids. Also, rising awareness levels and increasing incidences of lifestyle-related illnesses such as coronary artery disease will boost demand.
Innovation drives competitiveness in the global omega 3 market. DSM is the world leader in the omega 3 market. In 2012, DSM acquired Martek, a leading US-based producer of omega 3s and Ocean Nutrition, a Canada-based supplier of fish-derived EPA and DHA. Martek’s acquisition brought DSM opportunities in the infant nutrition segment. In 2014, it announced an investment of $30million to upgrade and expand Ocean Nutrition’s omega 3 production facility in Nova Scotia. Other market players include Pronova BioPharma ASA, BASF SE, Croda International Plc., and Omega Protein Corporation. Martek Biosciences and Lonza were the first ones to manufacture omega 3 ingredients for algae oils.
Information Source: Grand View Research