Producers of 'world's first' naturally occurring omega-3 yogurt target Asia exports

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Westhaven Dairies' omega-3 yogurt won the Food Innovation Award from the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology last year.
Westhaven Dairies' omega-3 yogurt won the Food Innovation Award from the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology last year.

Related tags Omega-3 fatty acid Dha omega-3 Yogurt

A Tasmanian dairy which is said to have launched the world's first yogurt made from milk containing naturally occurring omega-3 is seeing sales growing by 30% year-on-year — and it is now targeting exports to Asia.

Each serving (250ml) of the yogurt made by Westhaven Dairies, contains 60mg of omega-3.

Since its launch two years ago, the sales have increased by a third every year, general manager of Westhaven Dairies Jonty Barnett told NutraIngredients-Asia.

The yogurt won the 2017 Food Innovation Award from the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST).

The award recognises a company or organisation that has demonstrated a significant new development in a process, product, ingredient, equipment or package which has achieved successful commercial application in the Australian food industry. 

In this case, both Westhaven and Naturale (the farm which produces milk containing naturally occurring omega-3) were awarded for producing “the world’s first omega-3 yogurt from cow’s milk”​, according to AIFST.

“In the US and other markets, yogurt containing omega-3 are available in the market. However, these yogurts are made with milk fortified with omega-3, meaning the omega-3 is artificially added into the milk. Ours is the first to be made from milk containing naturally occurring omega-3,”​ Barnett highlighted.

He shared that the company has been producing yogurts for years, and using milk containing naturally occurring omega-3 is an extension of their practice of using natural ingredients.

“Our company has been around making yogurts which are preservative and artificial free for the past 20 over years…We thought it is a unique selling point to use milk containing naturally occurring omega-3 as a functional food.”

Omega-3 milk production

The first step of producing milk containing naturally occurring omega-3, is to feed cows with omega-3 feed supplement. This idea came from farmer Geoff Cox, who is also the CEO of Naturale.

Cox started the journey of manufacturing omega-3 feed supplement by improving a feed supplement production technique which was first created by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

He replaced undesirable chemicals used in the production process with standard food grade ingredients.

In an interview with NutraIngredients-Asia, ​Cox further elaborated the processes in making the omega-3 feed supplement. 

He said that the omega-3 oils are embedded in a matrix of protein that is resistant to rumen microbial degradation. 

In so doing, the encapsulated oils bypasses the cows’ rumen, and will be digested and absorbed into the cows’ blood stream. 

Omega-3 constituents EPA and DHA fatty acids are then transported to the mammary gland and re-synthesised into the cow’s milk fat triglycerides prior to secretion as an integral component of the cow’s milk fat.

No fishy taste

An advantage of milk produced by cows fed with omega-3 feed supplement, is that it does not come with a fishy smell or taste. 

 “The flavour is just like the standard milk,”​ Cox described.

In addition, its shelf life is comparable to standard milk, as it can undergo extended shelf-life or ultra-high temperature processing treatment.

Cost wise, the omega-3 enriched milk is generally 10% higher than standard milk, but comparable to milk that contains artificially added omega-3.

When making the omega-3 enriched milk into yogurt, the main challenge lies in finding out the right proportion of ingredients, so as to achieve the required amount of omega-3 in the final product, Barnett said.

“We spent around nine months conducting trials and tests to finalise the proportion,” ​he said.


Barnett said the firm is now looking to export the yogurt, with China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Hong Kong as some of the destinations.

 “A number of Asian markets see omega-3 as something good, the demand is probably higher than in Australia,” ​Barnett said.

As the yogurt is currently sold in tubs, Barnett said that they are working on introducing squeeze pouch packaging, which the firm believes will be more attractive to younger consumers.

On the other hand, Naturale is in a discussion with a farm business in Japan and other Australian companies in expanding its omega-3 feed supplement business. Currently, its feed business is concentrated in South Korea.

As for its milk business, Naturale has developed a cow milk fat that has a fatty acid profile which contains elevated levels of LA, ALA, ARA, and DHA, thus suitable for use in infant formula. 

"The cow milk fat can replace vegetable oils typically used in infant formula,"​ Cox said.

He revealed that he is working with an Australian based infant formula firm to commercialise the product and hopes to launch it within one to two years.

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