Eyes on the prize: A closer look at the omega-3 finalists for NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2023

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

A closer look at the omega-3 finalists for NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2023. ©Getty Images
A closer look at the omega-3 finalists for NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2023. ©Getty Images

Related tags NutraIngredients-Asia awards omega-3 EPA and DHA Fish oil Growth Asia 2023

Omega-3 product innovations from GNC China, South Korea’s Nlize, and UK-based WHC Labs have made it into the finals of NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2023.

Following the unveiling of the award finalists​ earlier this week, we take a closer look at the competitive omega-3 category to find out what it takes to compete for the top prize.

GNC’s strategy in China

Although GNC 97% high purity fish oil was introduced in the China market only early this year, the product’s monthly sales has hit 10,000 units.

Nevertheless, GNC acknowledged that its presence in China is in the early stages, with local consumers’ understanding of dietary supplements still in its infancy as compared to Europe and the US. 

GNC 97% high purity fish oil is formulated with an ultra-high concentration of omega-3 content, with an actual detection value of 98% and theoretical value of 97%, which is higher than the EU and US standards.

The daily dosage of two capsules comprises 1230mg of omega-3, with each capsule containing small particles designed for smoother swallowing.

Studies cited by GNC indicated that formulations with very high concentrations of omega-3 acid ethyl esters (EE) appear to have higher nutrient uptake in the body, and are more potent for reducing triglycerides (TG) and very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol than those with lower concentrations.

In addition, enteric coating technology is used to avoid the destruction of nutrients by gastric acid, allowing the capsules to dissolve after reaching the intestinal tract. This protects the active ingredients and improves the absorption of omega-3.

GNC has obtained the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) certification and 26 patents so far.

“As Chinese consumers become increasingly aware of the ability of fish oil products to lower fat levels in the body, we feel that it is necessary to educate them on what constitutes a high-quality product.

“We hope that through a fish oil product with omega-3 content far exceeding that of existing products in the market, more consumers in China will realise the importance and effectiveness of high content omega-3,” ​GNC China said.

South Korea’s next generation of omega-3

Launched in October 2022, Nlize’s MAG Omega3 is said to be South Korea’s first monoglyceride omega-3 supplement.

Its main ingredient, monoglyceride EPA+DHA, is a “pre-digested” fatty acid that is proven to come with higher absorption and bioavailability as compared to conventional omega-3 forms.

Usually, EE, TG and re-esterified triglycerides (rTG) in omega-3 require a complex digestion process to break down into smaller components, which can cause indigestion and reduced absorbency, especially in people with digestive issues.

However, monoglyceride fatty acids are already disassembled into nano units that can be readily absorbed by intestinal cells.

“MAG Omega3 offers enhanced benefits, particularly for cardiovascular risk factors. A two-week experiment showed that all participants who took the product had lower levels of TG and blood pressure. Notably, cholesterol level dropped from 175mg/dL to 126mg/dL.

“It serves as an alternative for individuals with lipid malabsorption, and those seeking omega-3 supplementation with better absorption and cardiovascular effects,” ​the firm added.

Within six months of its launch, MAG Omega3 has generated strong interest from both consumers and retailers.

The product sold out during its debut on a home shopping network, and gained viral attention online when nutra practitioners dubbed it as “the next generation of omega-3”.

“It was meticulously developed by prioritising the needs of consumers. The goal was to create a supplement that can be consumed effortlessly. Some 90% of product reviews expressed feedback such as easy swallowing, small pill size, lack of smell, and absence of discomfort in the stomach after ingestion.”

As the idea of pre-digested fatty acids is new to most consumers, the brand overcome the challenge of educating the general public by using the term “micro omega-3” as the primary marketing keyword, along with the claim that the novel ingredient is “100,000 times smaller than a hair follicle”.

No fishy business

First introduced in Europe and North America last October, WHC Labs’ UnoCardio Chewy contains 640mg of omega-3, specifically 320mg of EPA and 240mg of DHA, in one gel bite.

The product claims to deliver adequate daily omega-3 intake to support every life stage and is suitable for both children and adults.

“Consumers are looking for new solutions in terms of dosage formats, especially in the omega-3 category. UnoCardio Chewy offers high payload in a single gel bite, is 100% sugar-free but does not have any fishy aftertaste and has excellent stability.

“It is also easy to take without any choking hazard — water is not needed to swallow the gel bite, raising the compliance rate.Each chewable is individually packed and can be conveniently carried around for people on the move,” ​the firm said.

The patented emulsification technology utilised to make the product is also said to enhance the absorption of omega-3 in users.

UnoCardio Chewy took the top spot on the DHA new product ranking on Tmall when it first launched on the platform.
Over the past five months, it has also maintained its 15th position on Tmall’s “Imported DHA’s top-rated list”.


The winners of NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2023​ will be announced at Growth Asia Summit 2023​ taking place at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore from September 26-28.

Find out how to attend the summit (including the awards ceremony) and more information on the programme here​.

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