Omega-3 may be better suited to supplements, says Mintel

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplements, Nutrition

Consumers are not sure whether they are gaining enough omega-3 from functional foods, says Mintel, and the ingredient could be best suited to dietary supplements after all.

In the past few years omega-3 has been incorporated into ever more food products, including bread, milk and other dairy products, cereals, and even some confectionery. Consumer awareness has risen considerably, especially amongst those who have an aversion to eating fish, the main dietary source of DHA and EPA.

However some questions have been raised about ingredient’s efficacy and dosage.

Daily recommended levels from experts are about 500mg of EPA and DHA per day – although there is no official RDI (recommended daily intake). However most foods containing the ingredient have less than 100mg per serving, which means they do not meet the full needs of people eating them instead of eating fish.

One of the issues that often crops up with some fortification ingredients is that consumers are not sure if they are getting enough, how much they should be getting, and if what they are eating and drinking supplies enough,”​ said David Jago, director of innovation and Insight at Mintel GNPD.

“As consumers want more proof of what they are eating and what it is doing for them, we think that some supplement ingredients, such as omega-3, may move more strongly into dietary supplements rather than into food and beverage, as a way to answer those consumer concerns.”

Predictions

Jago’s comments came in the form of predictions on ingredient trends for 2009, which were put together on the basis of product launches across all sectors, listed in Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD).

Other trends he has noted include the march towards the mainstream of ‘beauty from within’ – that is, ingredients used in food and supplements to have an outward effect on appearance.

However this trend does have a distinctly regional flavour bent.

In Asia, aloe, collagen and ceramide are popular in ‘beauty’ food and drink for health and beautiful skin. In the West, more companies emphasise antioxidant content for skin beautifying benefits.”

Traditional Chinese medicines also look to be gaining traction in the search for alternative therapies.

“We are seeing in nonfoods a stronger emphasis on herbal supplements and a focus on whole-body health. So, it is not just about treating specific issues but rather therapies that enhance overall wellbeing and health.”

Mintel has also made some predictions for ingredients trends geared towards functional foods and dietary supplements. Please see the parallel article on our sister site FoodNavigator.com.

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