Plants and microalgae spur new omega-3 formulations13 May 2022
With health and environmental awareness high among consumers, omega-3 producers are exploring the use of plant-based and microalgae ingredients to appeal to consumers’ nutritional needs.
Omega-3s are fatty acids that play an essential role in diet and nutrition. They are popular with consumers for their purported health benefits, ranging from heart and cardiovascular health to improving symptoms relating to depression, eye health and infant development.
Increase in plant and microalgae-based omega-3s
There are three main types of omega-3s: Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA are commonly found in fish and other types of seafood. However, as consumers increasingly focus on their health and the environment, formulators are tapping into plant and microalgae ingredients to meet consumer demands for nutritional value from vegan alternatives.
“We can say with relative certainty that interest in plant-based and microalgae-led innovations is on the rise,” says Elana Natker, GOED’s director of consumer and health practitioner communications. GOED is a global organisation that represents the EPA and DHA omega-3 industry. The organisation aims to ensure the development of high-quality products that build trust and boost the consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3s, regardless of their source.
“We know from tracking the omega-3 industry and consumer trends that interest in algae- and plant-based EPA and DHA sources are high,” says Natker. GOED is due to publish a new Finished Product Report, Natker says. The report will be in addition to the organisation’s regularly published Ingredient Market Report. For both of these reports, the organisation notes it has held intelligence-gathering conversations with its members that support its statement that high interest in algae and plant-based EPA and DHA sources exists.
What consumers think about omega-3
GOED explains that it tracks the understanding and usage of omega-3 on a country-by-country basis. Doing so enables the organisation to gauge consumer perceptions of omega-3s, it says. “Overall, it seems that most consumers are aware of omega-3s, but the use of omega-3 supplements is variable and, in some countries, fairly low,” says Natker.
The EPA and DHA omega-3 industry representative conducts consumer omnibus surveys in countries worldwide. GOED notes that, to date, it has surveyed consumers in more than 20 countries regarding attitudes and behaviours around health and wellness activities. It conducts these surveys with a sample size of 1,000 people and is nationally representative of the consuming class in each country, GOED says. The organisation also repeats key countries to gather trending information. From pulling data from various countries, particularly those surveyed most recently, Natker says: “I know that awareness is usually quite high but usage is variable”.
David Erlandsson, co-founder of Danish producer of microalgae-based food and beverage applications, Aliga Microalgae, says that the perception of omega-3 is “very good as there are several approved EFSA claims on it”. However, sustainability, overfishing and heavy metals are concerns among consumers, Erlandsson says. With today’s consumers increasingly aware of these concerns surrounding their food items, including fish-derived omega-3 products, “many are looking for vegan alternatives”, Erlandsson says.
Evolving omega-3 based formulations in food and drink
Vegan omega-3 formulations are gathering pace with health and environmentally conscious shoppers. “We see more and more consumers wanting to consume vegan omega-3 sources instead of fish-derived omega-3,” says Erlandsson.
However, Erlandsson says that there is only one European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved microalgae strain containing Omega-3, which is the Schizochytrium sp. The single-cell microalga is mainly being cultivated by Royal DSM and Evonik, Erlandsson says.
As a result, the leading driver from the consumer side, Erlandsson says, is to swap fish-based omega-3 for algae omega-3 as it is a “more sustainable source in terms of reducing overfishing and heavy metal content”.
Chinese food brand wants to give customers ‘the full experience’
16 Dec 2022
Food brand Xiao Chi Jie is revamping Chinese cuisine for the modern American consumer. The Washington-based company sells regional Chinese specialties like soup dumplings, noodle kits, and barbeque skewers direct-to-consumer in the US.Read more
Regulations spur healthy snacking in Europe
15 Dec 2022
Healthy snack demand is on an upward trajectory in Europe, fuelled by products attaching health halos to their products, according to latest figures by Euromonitor – but regulations may be the real driver.Read more
Could the EU-Mercosur trade deal be revived?
14 Dec 2022
The re-election of Luiz Inácio da Silva, or Lula, as president of Brazil has prompted speculation that the free-trade agreement between the EU and South American Mercosur bloc could be revived – but the European farming sector has concerns.Read more
Could menopause-supporting products be the next big opportunity?
13 Dec 2022
As supplement brands launch products to relieve the symptoms of menopausal women such as nutraceutical gummies, the unmet needs of this group is attracting government attention in the UK.Read more
Plant-based fish and seafood launches around the world
12 Dec 2022
From pea protein-based prawns to microalgae-based tuna alternatives, plant-based alternatives to fish and seafood are on the rise around the world.Read more
Editors’ choice: Our roundup of the most innovative sweets, snacks and bakery products
9 Dec 2022
The sweets, snacks, and bakery categories are an exciting area, full of fresh and innovative products which are constantly adding meaningful value to the sector.Read more
Functional food in Japan centres on health and proving claims
8 Dec 2022
The latest Japanese functional food and drink trends put health and product efficacy firmly on the production agenda for new releases.Read more
Swedish food agency: One in 10 coffee brands contain excess acrylamide
7 Dec 2022
New findings from the Swedish Food Agency have revealed three of 29 coffee products sampled contained acrylamide above limits, reinforcing the link between levels and degree of roasting.Read more
‘Super nut’? Indonesia’s ‘best kept secret’ wins EU novel food approval
6 Dec 2022
A previously obscure, nutrient-rich Indonesian nut is set to hit European shelves after winning EU novel foods approval that could also help protect under-threat kenari forests on the archipelago.Read more
Philippines to restrict trans fats in processed foods
5 Dec 2022
Use of artificial trans fats in pre-packed processed foods will be restricted in the Philippines as the country looks to eliminate its consumption from other sources too.Read more