This is according to Euromonitor International, which recently released a new analysis on omega-3.
John George, Ingredient Analyst at Euromonitor International, said BakeryAndSnacks’ omega-3s grew over 3,000 tonnes worldwide between 2010 and 2015, with an average annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3%.
However, the fortification of omega-3s in food and beverages has problems in developed markets, says John Madden, director of ingredients at Euromonitor.
“The Asia-Pacific region is the main driver of growth, accounting for 42% of the increased consumption,” said George. The developed regions of North America and Western Europe recorded only 1% growth in omega-3 ingredients over the same period.
According to the analysis, bread is one of the largest suppliers of omega-3 fatty acids. Last year, 6,375 tons of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids were consumed in bread.
However, this has more to do with the sheer volume size of the global packaged bread market, with around 1.3 billion tons of bread consumed in 2015 alone, Madden said.
Loss of interest .
Euromonitor believes the decline is due to dwindling consumer interest. People know that omega-3s are beneficial, but they don’t believe that the fatty acids are essential enough to increase their intake.
“The credibility gap is a phrase coined by Adam Ismail from GOED, the industry association for DHA and EPA. It refers to the difficulty of conveying the research on omega-3 fatty acids to consumers and convincing them of the benefits, ”said George.
Manufacturers, too, tend to shy away from taking in these ingredients, which can lead to technical difficulties and cost increases.
“GOED recommends a daily intake of 500 mg of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids,” said George. “Unfortunately, most foods cannot contain this level of omega-3 fatty acids without significantly affecting the properties of the product, including taste.
“One of the basic principles of Clean Label is that products are kept as simple as possible with a minimal number of ingredients. Fortification contradicts this as it is adding an ingredient that is not essential to the product, ”he continued, noting that for many consumers, the inclusion of fish oil on an ingredient list for a food and beverage product becomes probably put them off.
However, the research lists a number of alternative sources to fish, including algae, chia and flax seeds, and genetically modified canola plants.
Structure of the omega-3 chain.
Euromonitor reported that the omega-3 industry needs to be more assertive in communication.
Ultimately, this message is conveyed by the manufacturers. Therefore, close working relationships are needed to ensure that manufacturers believe that the fatty acids offer added value and are therefore willing to invest in effective promotion of the related benefits.
This can be achieved by targeting specific consumers using the omega-3 health claim that is most relevant to them.
For example, George suggested, snack bar products aimed at children should focus on the association of omega-3s with brain development, as this will appeal to parents.
On the flip side, products aimed at older consumers and seniors should instead address the omega-3 fatty acid’s links to cardiovascular benefits, which are likely to be the bigger problem, he said.
“Using this method instead of using several different health claims gives consumers a more tangible idea of why they need to consume omega-3s and forces them to choose fortified products,” he noted.
The role of know-how, tools and equipment.
Technology providers need to come to the party as well, added George.
“Consumers do not tolerate products with impaired taste or smell. Therefore, technologies that reduce the sensory problems associated with omega-3 fatty acids are vital. These technologies need to be cheap to encourage manufacturers to incorporate them into products and to keep them affordable for consumers.
“The new technology should allow incorporation into a wider variety of products, but should also allow greater amounts of omega-3s to be incorporated to ensure that consumption of the fortified product actually results in a health benefit,” he concluded.