Just decades ago, early advocates of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) had their work cut out for them. Public understanding about essential functional lipids was at a minimumand the differing regulatory situations globally only added to the problem. For instance, in the United States, fish oils were permitted as dietary supplements, but not yet in foods; in Canada, they were only permitted as drugs.
Despite all the progress the omega-3 industry has made, a variety of underlying hurdles still cause difficulties for marketers and manufacturers. They include:
- Government recommendations, particularly the U.S. reference daily intake (RDI)
- Few options available for health claims
- High triglyceride levels not recognized as a major factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD)
- A lack of health professional support, especially among physicians
- Consumer confusion regarding types of LC-PUFAs
- Questions around which LC-PUFA source is "best"
- Concerns that LC-PUFAs have "too many" health benefits
- Quality/quantity of raw materials (i.e., safety, supply)
- Taste and stability issues, particularly for food and beverage producers
In this free Report, "Future Possibilities for Omega-3 Products," from SupplySide Omega-3 Insights, Ian Newton, founder of Ceres Consulting, Torontoa provider of strategic advice and market researchexplores the history of omega-3s in the marketplace. He includes a glance at today's product-development efforts, with creative offerings in supplements, pharmaceuticals, foods and beverages. Of note, new sources, refining techniques and delivery forms have now led to virtually tasteless, odorless omega-3s that resist oxidation and permit food manufacturers to look at including reasonable LC-PUFA levels in virtually all foods.
In terms of the industry's future, the best-case scenario would be the development of a U.S. RDI, the granting of an unqualified health claim, and increased support from dietitians and physicians. Regardless, continuing growth in new scientific areas and developing markets has positioned the industry for success.