Cargill looks to take slice of omega-3 market

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Omega-3 fatty acid Eicosapentaenoic acid Cargill

Cargill has announced its plans to enter the omega-3 ingredient
market - a development likely to cause concern for smaller
companies already cashing in on the popularity of these fatty
acids.

The agribusiness giant will unveil its new omega-3 ingredient for use in functional foods at the Vitafoods International Show in May. The company has hired an omega-3 product manager to support the new product's entry into the global marketplace. The fact that a company with Cargill's sheer capacity for product development and marketing is making a foray into omega-3 is another indicator the ingredient is becoming increasingly mainstream. The market value for omega-3 enriched foods in the United States grew from approximately $100m to more than $2bn in four years, according to market researcher Packaged Facts. The analyst reported last month that these products make up the strongest sector of the functional foods market and there is room for significant growth. Packaged Facts predicted foods with added omega-3 will reach $7b in sales by 2011. According to Cargill, preliminary studies show that use of up to 150mg of its omega-3 ingredient per serving can be added to products with no discernible change in flavor or shelf life. Scientific literature on the cognitive and cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) has continued to grow, prodding ingredients manufacturers to develop products with more and more applications. While fish oil has been lauded for its high concentration of the long-chain fatty acids DHA and EPA, it has also presented obstacles over freshness and taste. Vegetarian alternatives, such as DHA derived from marine algae, are said to lack the same level of EPA. Ocean Nutrition Canada is one company claiming to have found a technology that hides the taste and flavor of fish. The company's Power-loc double microencapsulation technology has allowed formulators to use ONC's branded Meg-3 in products ranging from juices to yoghurts.

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