MEG-3 milk on Ocean Nutrition's doorstep
launching in Nova Scotia, amid hopes that it will boost the
consumer's omega-3 intake to recommended levels.
Consumers in Novia Scotia, which happens to be the home of omega-3 innovator Ocean Nutrition Canada (ONC), are reported to have a major deficiency of omega-3, consuming less than 100mg of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) per day, according to ONC. The American Heart Association recommends between 500 and 1000mg per day. In the United States the FDA approved a qualified health claim in September 2004, stating that long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (that is, DHA and EPA) may help reduce the risk of heart disease. This has raised considerable awareness amongst American consumers, but the absence of a parallel claim in Canada may mean that consumers there are not so conscious of the benefits. Andrea Hickey, marketing and communications manager for Farmers Dairy, which is rolling out Farmers Choice Partly Skimmed Milk, said: "We believe our customers will love the taste of this milk, the added heart benefits of MEG-3 and the fact that this is a 100 percent locally-made product." As the company's name suggests, ONC's MEG-3 is derived from fish, widely agreed to be the richest source of omega-3. In the past food formulators have experienced difficulty in using fish-derived oils, due to the strong taste that is not acceptable in many kinds of products. However ONC's Ian Lucas told NutraIngredients-USA.com that the company developed a microencapsulation technique that protects the oil from oxidation - the process responsible for the fishy taste and smell. A number of fortified breads have already successfully launched using omega-3, including products from The Baker and Arnold Foods Company, which launched in the US in 1Q 2005. On the dairy front, MEG-3 made its Canadian debut in Danone's Cardivia yogurt in August. In Hong Kong, Lark Dairies reports that it is shifting double the amount of its Trappist Brand Milk with MEG-3 than its regular milk. Last year ONC carried out a $10 million expansion of its omega-3 fish oil concentrate production in Mulgrave, Nova Scotia, which Lucas says has enabled it to create hundreds of new jobs in the province. In February it announced the purchase of a new production facility in Arcadia, Wisconsin, which is dedicated to fulfilling orders from the US market. The company has also started making inroads into Europe and Asia, and together with the domestic Canadian market, these are the focus of the Nova Scotia plant. In June it also announced the opening of a new office in Australia. Ocean Nutrition Canada is not alone in overcoming the sensory issues associated with fish oils, however. Bioriginal has also announced the launch of fish oil powders that reduce the smell and taste of fish. These were first introduced to the European market at Vitafoods in April, and will roll out in the US at Supply Side West next month. Other companies active in the omega-3 market have sought to by-pass fish as a source altogether. For example, Martek Biosciences offers omega-3 from microalgae, which has also seen some success in the functional foods arena. Vegetarian omega-3, mainly from flaxseed, is also available, but this is understood to be less bioavailable than marine sources. External links to companies or organisations mentioned in thisstory: MEG-3