Omega-3 fatty acids are the most promising functional food ingredient in Europe, according to market researcher Frost & Sullivan, which put the European market at $195 million—or 28 per cent of global volume.
Increased demand for fortified foods, the popularisation of sound scientific research on its component parts such as DHA and EPA, and improved formulation capabilities are among the factors in its rise. Trusted omega-3 and -6 fatty acid sources such as marine oils, flax oil and algae oils have also played a part.
Perhaps most significantly, omega-3s and -6s are seen as essential to well-being—something that cannot be said of many functional foods ingredients.
The omega-3 market grew by 11 per cent in 2003 and Frost & Sullivan predicts it will grow at eight per cent in the coming years, despite pan-European regulatory ambiguity and the absence of a recommended daily intake.
The company expected US-based manufacturers to form alliances with European distributors. Croda and Norway?s Pronova Biocare are the leading European fish oil concentrate producers.
Omega-3s have also been boosted by many low-carb diets, which advocate consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.