Omega-3 Awareness on the Rise

Awareness of omega-3 fatty acids as among the most important nutrients for physical and mental health has reached critical mass, according to a new Packaged Facts report on “Omega-3: Global Product Trends and Opportunities”.

Correspondingly, the number of consumers who are seeking out high-omega products has increased dramatically over the past few years.  In the U.S. market, for example, 9% of grocery shoppers buy high omega-3 food or beverage products in a typical grocery shopping trip, and the percentage of adults who take fish oil supplements has jumped from 8% in 2006 to 17% in 2011.

In addition, consumers increasingly regard health and beauty care products as extensions of the foods they eat. What has emerged, according to David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts, is a new (and sometimes paradoxical) continuum of nutrient-positioned products extending from whole foods and fortified/functional foods through to nutritional supplements and personal care products. In the case of pet owners, this continuum also extends to pet foods (which are inherently functional), treats, supplements, and grooming products-essentially replicating the range of human products available.

Packaged Facts estimates that global consumer spending on omega-3 food and beverage products (excluding fish), health and beauty care products (including supplements), and pet products will reach $13 billion in 2011. Consumer demand for omega-3 products will continue growing briskly over the 2011-2015 forecast period, and will influence the activities of marketers worldwide across various categories of consumer packaged goods, including the private label arena.

Several factors combine to create a very positive growth environment for omega-3 products. These include expanding medical, governmental, and public awareness of omega-3 and its wide range of health benefits; continued consumer receptiveness to functional food and supplement products; positive mainstream and trade media reporting; and increased market participation by major marketers. Intriguing new sources of omega-3s-ranging from krill and calamari to cranberry and chia seed and to long under-appreciated hemp-are also making it easier for manufacturers to market high-omega products.  This has led to a dramatic expansion of the range of retail products available, including options for vegetarian consumers.

Hurdles do remain for the omega-3 products market. The medical and regulatory communities have not yet fully arrived at a consensus on the optimal intake of omega-3 fatty acids, or the relative benefits of increased consumption of marine- vs. plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, although scientific research has generally focused on the health benefits of DHA and EPA omega-3 from marine sources such as salmon or algae.  Correspondingly, there is confusion among consumers who associate “omega-3″ with fish and fish oil rather than flax or other plant-based sources that are used in omega-3 fortification of foods.  Nonetheless, favorable European regulatory changes for omega-3 health claims are expected in 2011, and should ultimately further boost the omega-3 product marketing environment globally.

“Omega-3: Global Product Trends and Opportunities” focuses on packaged retail products that are marketed as high in omega-3 fatty acids, whether these products are inherently high in omega-3 or purposefully enhanced or fortified with this nutritional content, and whether the omega-3 content is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), or alpha linolenic acid (ALA). In analyzing the omega-3 consumer products market and new product dynamics from a global perspective, this report pinpoints opportunities in an industry that has grown explosively but remains far from reaching maturity.

For further information, please visit: www.packagedfacts.com/Omega-Global-Product-6385341/.

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