Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid are essential omega-3, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that play an important role in the human physiology and health.
The ability to synthesize EPA and DHA is limited in humans, and they can be obtained through our diets from fatty fish and shellfish, or as dietary supplements.
Beyond human consumption, omega-3s are also important for aquaculture and in animal nutrition.
The sustained and increasing demand for omega-3s in recent years has put a huge strain on our marine resources. Another important factor that is impacting the availability of marine omega-3s is climate change and global warming.
With fish oil prices reaching record-highs in 2023 and the closing of the first anchovy fishing season in Peru recently, the pressing need for sustainable sources of omega-3 is more critical than ever before.
dsm-firmenich interviewed three industry experts to better understand how this changing tide is set to impact the omega-3 industry:
- Ms. Chong Hui-Cheng, Segment Lead Dietary Supplements APAC, dsm-firmenich
- Mr. Peter Wennstrom, Founder & Lead Consultant, Healthy Marketing Team (HMT)
- Dr. Ross Zirkle, Director, Biotechnology Scouting, dsm-firmenich
The combination of supply challenge for crude fish oil resulting in prices being at an all-time high, and a consumer demand for more sustainable and safe non-marine sources for omega-3, has created a tipping point for alternative source of omega-3 solutions.
“The sustainability trend has grown steadily over the last five to ten years, and is now one of the key drivers of consumer purchase decision in dietary supplements,” Ms. Chong Hui-Cheng explained.
“This current anticipated supply shortage and multiple fold price increase in crude fish oil over the last 12 months has created conditions where brand owners are actively looking at alternative omega-3 sources, such as algal-sourced life’s™OMEGA as commercially viable and sustainable solution for business continuity and future growth.”
Chong added, “additionally, the heightened concern amongst some consumers in several Asia Pacific countries on the risks of marine contamination will likely drive higher preference of a non-marine algal-sourced omega-3 like life’s™OMEGA for peace of mind in the continual intake of this essential micronutrient.”
When asked about his observations on this changing tide, and on how the dietary supplement industry and consumers will take to alternatives of fish-omega-3, Mr. Peter Wennstrom explained how the growth of plant-based solutions can provide some indication of what is to come.
“My observation is that we see the same pattern for the sustainability trend as we did for the health trend some 20 years ago. Today, we see it as normal that even mass market consumers make food choices influenced by health needs. We tend to forget that health has evolved from a niche for the few health food motivators to what is now a mass market hygiene factor, i.e. we now reject foods that are seen as unhealthy. This means that health has passed the “tipping point.”
Wennstrom added: “Over the past 10 years or so my company has worked with plant-based projects, initially focusing on the niche vegans or activist consumers who were the early adopters of plant-based, sustainable food and supplement alternatives. They bonded with the values and lifestyles of new plant-based brands.
“But as the quality and availability of plant-based products have increased and trusted mass market brands have introduced plant-based alternatives in their portfolio, it has pushed plant-based from the niche closer to the tipping point, where it starts to become the new normal.
While the appeal of plant-based omega-3 options is growing due to their potential health benefits and environmentally friendly aspects, it’s still very important to note that the adoption of plant-based omega-3 sources will vary across regions and consumer preferences.”
To better understand the real impact of dsm-firmenich’s life’s™OMEGA in addressing the challenges of omega-3 availability for human consumption, Dr. Ross Zirkle explained how the unique source and patented technology are both equally important.
“Our technology produces both Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the key omega-3 fatty acids, by fermentation of a single, proprietary non-GMO strain of microalgae. dsm-firmenich has a world-class repository of strains and the ability of these microalgae to produce meaningful levels of both EPA and DHA commercially for human consumption was unprecedented.
“The production of EPA and DHA from a single source means less processing and blending and a more robust and consistent production system and product.”
Zirkle elaborated: “The production of life’s™OMEGA by fermentation assures a source that is completely independent from marine sources with zero impact on both the marine ecosystems and the world’s fish population, as well as being free from any potential contaminants found in fish and the ocean.
“Our fermentation process is highly controlled and adheres to stringent standards that assures the consistent production of EPA and DHA of the highest quality and safety standards. life’s™OMEGA EPA and DHA from microalgae have comparable bioavailability to that of fish oil, conferring the same proven health benefits to different consumers around the world.”
dsm-firmenich seeks to bring progress to life by providing sustainable solutions that meet consumers’ needs. As a market leader in algal omega-3 with life’s™DHA and life’s™OMEGA, dsm-firmenich brings almost close to 40 years of scientific knowledge, production specialization along with deep market and consumer understanding to customers in the omega-3 category. Find out how you can partner us with life’s™OMEGA algal solutions and be a force for good while growing your business.