Fish oil enters the American healthy oils lexicon

Kimberly Lord Stewart

Move over butter, Americans recognize fish oil as healthy. More and more consumers know that fish oil and Omegas are better for them, though they may not know exactly why or the difference between the various fats. That was the message from Nutracon speaker, Roger Daniels, Director of Research and Development for Bunge Oils in the Healthy Oils track. Daniels told the audience there is a growing awareness about the importance of Omega-based fatty acids, healthy oils and the dangers of trans fats.

Daniels presented research from a Consumer Insight Study that evaluated consumer awareness about different fats. The findings showed that consumer preferences for oils are shifting along with the economy. Although taste is still the number one concern, but price rose from fourth to second from 2007 to 2008. Even so, in 2008, personal health and nutrition placed third and fourth.

Daniels said this is in line with an overall increased awareness about healthy fats, especially Omegas. Consumers understand they are healthier, he said, but they do not understand the difference between Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9. The study showed that some consumers think Omega-9 is healthier because it has a higher number.

Daniels also said that the consumers who are more likely to choose healthier oils are those who experience a specific life occurrence. The triggers can be having children, becoming ill and even aging, as the drivers behind changing to a healthier nutritional behavior pattern.

For the future, Daniels says that healthy oils will play an ever increasing role in weight management, cardiovascular health and cholesterol reduction, provided they meet the three most important criteria—functionality, safety and efficacy.

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