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The Editor's Take: Turbulence in omega-3 market makes alternatives to fish oil imperative

Recent fishery closures have made the predictability of algae and plant oils more attractive.

Rick Polito, Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

April 23, 2024

1 Min Read

Algae has been the future before.

Early in the last decade, algae was going to fuel cars, replace plastic and even build houses. In supplements it was going to produce DHA and EPA as an alternative to fish oil in a way that would transform the Omega 3 market.

So far, it’s not clear that those dreams are all that close to being realized and in the case of omega 3s, observers are questioning how long it will take to get to scale in a way that calms the turbulence in the market. With uncertain conditions in the Peruvian anchovy fishery prices for fish oil as an ingredient have shot up by several hundred percent and algae looks ill-equipped to smooth out the curve.


The plant oils category in finished products, which includes algae alongside alternatives like flax and ahiflower, reached $336 million in 2023, well behind the $1.3 million market for fish/animal oils. The recent fishery closures, however, have made the predictability of algae and plant oils more attractive. Norwegian fish-oil provider GC Reiber Vivomega, for instance, now has a division producing algal oil and looking for way to increase efficiencies and output.

Other plant oils, ahiflower in particular, are also getting more interest.

What's the fishery closures tell us is that all these to fish oil are important now but will be even more important in the future as demand for omega-3s rises. Insiders state flatly that the industry is that boats and nets are not going to be enough.

Algae has been the future before, but now it must be the future.

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About the Author(s)

Rick Polito

Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

As Nutrition Business Journal's editor-in-chief, Rick Polito writes about the trends, deals and developments in the natural nutrition industry, looking for the little companies coming up and the big money coming in. An award-winning journalist, Polito knows that facts and figures never give the complete context and that the story of this industry has always been about people.

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