The unprecedented amount of media attention over the lawsuit filed against eight fish oil suppliers and retailers in March has put a big dent in the growth of the sector in the United States. Yet fish oil sales are still up significantly from 2009.
According to the latest market data by SPINS, the weekly sales of vitamins and supplements whose primary ingredient is fish oil was $6.42 million for the week ending May 15. This is a 15.16 per cent increase over the same week one year earlier, when sales totalled $5.58 million.
Sales are only slightly lower than they were the first week of 2010. For the week ending Jan. 2, sales totalled $6.48 million.
The lawsuit was filed March 2 in California by the Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation. According to the group, a handful of fish oil products they tested have PCB contamination above the so-called 'safe harbour' limit for human PCB consumption under California's Proposition 65 law.
Despite the strong growth in the sector over 2009, it is clear that the lawsuit has taken its toll in 2010. In the first full week after news of the lawsuit broke, sales took a huge hit, going from $8.05 million (March 6) to $6.6 million (March 13). They have been on a slow increase since then, but have failed to return to their peak on March 6.