Omega-3 ranks among the top three in terms of production and sales in South Korea’s nutraceutical industry.
“In the Korean market, omega-3 is currently dominated by technological trends rather than raw materials or brands,” Yun Taeho, director of planning and development at FMW, said in response to queries from NutraIngredients-Asia.
FMW Corp recently received the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) certification – a third party fish oil quality certification scheme run by US firm Nutrasource – for one of the omega-3 supplements that it distributes known as Supercritical rTG Omega Essence 1000.
The firm went on to obtain approval from Korean Health Supplements Association (KHSA) in labelling and advertising the product using the IFOS logo. The KHSA is commissioned by the country’s Food and Drug Administration to review and approve the use of third-party quality certification.
This is also the first time that the KHSA has allowed a Korean-manufactured supplement to be labelled and advertised in the country using the IFOS logo, although the product did not use imported ingredients or was made outside of Korea.
Asked the consumer trends for omega-3 in South Korea, Yun listed out five key points.
First, omega-3 made using supercritical extraction is preferred.
Second, products with high purity – at 80 per cent – of EPA and DHA are preferred.
Third, consumers would prefer products with a high content of EPA and DHA at 1,000mg.
Fourth, individual packaging or blister packed omega-3 is preferred to bottled packaging.
Lastly, consumers are beginning to gain an interest in algae-derived omega-3 following the release of radioactively contaminated water in Japan’s Fukushima region.
“The Korean health functional food market has been highly developed over a long period of time, and the intellectual level of consumers related to health functional food is also at a high level. This phenomenon is expected to further intensify in the future,” Yun said.
The company’s other product, Nordic rTG Omega Essence, is next to be certified with the IFOS logo.
Yun said all the firm’s future omega-3 products would undergo the IFOS certification.
There are two reasons for obtaining the IFOS certification, he explained.
The first is to validate the quality of its products while the second reason is to build consumers’ confidence in the products.
“Prior to our company, the KHSA has never approved locally manufactured products to be printed with the IFOS logo and so there were many difficulties in raising KHSA’s [of the IFOS certification scheme].
“South Korea is very strict on the advertising of health functional food in order to protect consumer interest and therefore, the KHSA will conduct prior inspection. However, if the product does not pass this inspection by the KHSA, it cannot be advertised.
“To put it simply, even if you pass the IFOS certification, if the KHSA says that you cannot advertise the product using the IFOS logo, you simply cannot do it. Therefore, passing KHSA’s pre-advertisement review was the biggest obstacle,” Yun said.
“Nutrasource is extremely proud to achieve approval from the KHSA of the IFOS™ logo on product packaging for the first time in a Korean manufactured supplement. This approval illustrates the level of quality of the FMW products as well as the importance of transparency and third-party testing to the Korean marketplace,” said Kevin Yan, Vice-President, Certifications and Analytics at Nutrasource