Feb 13, 2015
Growing global market for long chain omega-3
An increasing foundation of positive clinical research coupled with regulatory recognition is driving consumer interest in long-chain omega-3 EFAs. This paper reviews the market drives and outlines potential areas for growth in the global arena.
Change in the Global Omega Market
In a recent market research report, the global market for EPA and DHA omega-3 oils exceeded 85,000 metric tons globally in 2009, but will grow to between 135,000 and 190,000 tons by 2015. Marine sources such as fish oils accounted for nearly 97 percent of the market by volume, and North America is the largest region with nearly 40 percent of the volume. In terms of growth, pharmaceuticals are growing faster than other sectors, while regionally growth is highest in the Asia Pacific region on the back of increasing Chinese demand. However, a simple look at volume does not tell the story of the market.
The existing sources of Omega-3
Most fish oils are produced from anchovy because they tend to have the highest content of EPA and DHA and are produced in well-regulated fisheries. However, the current anchovy sources of supply may not be able to fully supply the market in a few years, which makes new sources important.
There are many other existing sources of EPA and DHA that will likely become more predominant, but they do not necessarily compete directly with the traditional whole body fish oils from anchovies. Cod liver oils are the most prevalent, but have been primarily consumed as a source of vitamins A and D in Northern Europe, and only recently have been recognized by consumers worldwide as a source of omega-3s. Tuna oils typically have 20 to 24 percent DHA, and a small amount of EPA, so they are more highly valued in applications that need DHA such as products for brain health or infant development. Salmon oils can contain 15 to 20 percent EPA+DHA and the primary value proposition has been its association with salmon, which consumers in multiple countries recognize as being heart healthy.
There are some newer sources of marine omega-3s on the market as well, including krill and squid oils. Krill oils are distinctly different from fish oils. The krill oil that is being sold on the market today comes from the Antarctic krill fishery and is naturally high in phospholipid and astaxanthin content; but, importantly, the EPA and DHA are bound to the phospholipids. Demand for krill oil is growing quite quickly and now accounts for 1 percent of the global consumption for EPA and DHA oils.
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