GOED is much admired for its work representing the omega-3 industry, promoting and commissioning science, dealing with regulators, organising and disseminating market data and more generally presenting a forceful and cohesive sector voice in real-time.
Utah-based GOED has had much on its plate recently trying to moderate reaction to research questioning the healthiness of omega-3; dealing with a flat US supplements market; addressing sustainability concerns and more.
But Polaris CEO Olivier Thiberge says the group could do more in Europe, and suggested European players may need more specific representation.
“There have been some controversial articles about omega-3 and that is something that GOED has been addressing,” he said at December’s Health Ingredients Europe (HiE) show in Frankfurt.
“We don’t think everything around studies needs to be done in the US – more should be done in Europe. We have to adapt. Companies like us are too small to finance studies and this is one of GOED’s roles."
Thiberge went on: “To fund studies is one thing, to make it known is another story. And this is where we need opinion leaders, journalists. This needs centralised organisation.”
“GOED does a good job but it has resource restrictions too and from here in Europe it looks like a lot of its activities are more US-oriented. Yes the US is the biggest market but maybe it is an interesting idea to look at a European omega-3 group. After all look at giant omega-3 companies like BASF and DSM – they are European.”
The chief said the €30bn sector needed to increase its marketing efforts of core benefits like heart, brain and eye links for EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) backed in the legislature in Europe and elsewhere.
Algae, fish omega-3s
The Brittany-based firm and GOED member recently launched an algae omega-3 form and Thiberge noted the price was higher than marine sources, but said the category was changing fast amid patent expirations from the likes of DSM-Martek, more players and greater volumes.
Asked about Brexit, Thiberge said there was a real concern free trade may be impeded, adding “the rest we’ll have to see.”
Could France quit? “The EU? Non. France will never quit Europe.”
Trump? “Nobody has any idea because there is so much difference between what he says and what he does. So let’s await and see.”
“The playground is more open so obviously it creates some more supply and so the price is decreasing. In the past two years it has decreased by 25-30%. With the price of fish oil going up and the price of algae oil going down there will be a point where the two curves will cross. Nobody serious knows exactly when that will happen, but it will happen soon enough. But we will always do some fish – the two will run in parallel. Demand for marine oil remains strong.”
Depending on concentration, typical market price for algae is about €60-100 per kilo while fish-sourced omega-3s can be half that price. “We are seeing a very nice interest in algae. This question of vege origin is crucial. And so is the scarcity of omega-3 supplies. We have to address the environmental factor too."
More interest for algae was coming from the food sector than the food supplements area because the higher unit cost was easier to absorb in a typically more expensive food matrix. Inclusion in vegetarian foods was an obvious fit.
In its sourcing, Polaris like most players uses by-products from sustainable fisheries audited by the likes of Friend of the Sea (FOS) and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). “We audit them regularly to make sure we know what we are getting.”
He said attaining enough raw material was not a problem “because we are not a huge player”; a bigger challenge was stable omega-3 content “because of climate warming and El Nino and things like that.”
“It can be difficult to achieve a stable fatty acid profile.”