FrieslandCampina Ingredients launches microencapsulated algae DHA powders

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

© MoMo Productions / Getty Images
© MoMo Productions / Getty Images

Related tags vegan vegetarian Dha omega-3 Algae plant-based

FrieslandCampina Ingredients has launched two algae-based, microencapsulated docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) ingredients to offer manufacturers more options in catering to vegetarian and vegan consumers.

The global ingredeints manufacturer designed the new omega-3 powders to help brands offer multifunctional health benefits without compromising on consumer experience or dietary preference.

"Consumers struggle to find products containing omega-3s that taste good and fit their vegan or vegetarian diets," said Auke Zeilstra, managing director, North America at FrieslandCampina Ingredients. "And for manufacturers, addressing these needs is crucial to bridging the gap between awareness and action.”  

New DHA ingredients

The new powder range includes Biotis DHA FlexP 15, which delivers a 15% DHA load for vegan formulations, and a vegetarian variant, Biotis DHA FlexP 20, that uses dairy proteins in the powder matrix and provides a 20% DHA load.

"There are a growing number of vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian consumers who often struggle to find DHA supplements that fit their dietary preferences," Vicky Davies, global marketing director of performance, active and medical nutrition at FrieslandCampina Ingredients, told NutraIngredients. 

"We wanted to give all these consumer groups an option that meets their needs. By providing both solutions, we are addressing common consumer barriers head-on and meeting the needs of diverse dietary lifestyles."

The encapsulation process includes a high level of vitamin C, offering an additional immune health claim and complementing DHA’s well-known support for brain, eye, and heart health.

"Vitamin C plays a double function in Biotis DHA FlexPowders: as an antioxidant, it protects the oil in the encapsulate from oxidation, and as a nutrient source, it delivers additional immune health benefits,” Davies said. "With at least 4 g per 100 g, the amount of vitamin C is high enough to make an immune health-related claim, after being approved by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and in the US."

The encapsulation process also acts to protect the DHA's nutritional stability. When omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) such as DHA oxidize, off-flavors can develop, nutritional value decreases and shelf-life can be reduced.

But with this process, DHA nutritional oil is micro-encapsulated, forming droplets, which are enclosed in a powder matrix of carbohydrates and/or proteins, protecting the oil. The sensory stability of the powders are also improved.

"We conducted a 24-month sensory study to find out whether taste can be affected by the way DHA is incorporated into a formulation," Zeilstra said. "It was found that the sensorial stability of a final powdered product is best when DHA is added as an encapsulate during a dry blending phase.

"The superior sensory properties also open the door to a wide range of innovative new formats, such as functional breakfast drinks, gummy supplements, and RTD beverages so consumers can incorporate these nutrients into their daily routines. The application possibilities are near limitless."

Changing consumer preferences

The nutrition landscape is shaped by a growing demand for sustainability, according to FrieslandCampina’s 2024 trend forecast​, with 48% of consumers reporting making changes to their diets and lifestyles in the last twelve months to behave in a more sustainable manner (Top ten trends 2024, FMCG Gurus).

"Plant-based is no longer the new kid on the block—in 2024, more and more consumers are seeking out meat and dairy alternatives as part of their increasingly flexitarian diets," according to the trend report. "It’s a promising avenue for innovation—but plant-based products need to be as good as their dairy counterparts, both in taste and nutritional quality."

Omega-3s go plant-based​ 

Omega-3s are associated with a myriad of health benefits in areas such as coronary heart disease​, mental health​, infant development​, oral health​ and blood pressure regulation​.

According to a 2023 FMCG Gurus Omega-3 insight report, 53% of Europeans recognize the role of omega-3s in supporting brain health. Despite this, global intake of omega-3s remains lower than is advised​ by the World Health Organization (WHO).

"Consumers are increasingly reluctant to buy into marine-based omega-3s as concerns about scarcity and overfishing have taken center stage,” Rick Miller, associate director for specialized nutrition at Mintel recently told NutraIngredients​. "The main [omega-3] industry insecurity stems from issues with our desire to overfish the species that give us loads of omega-3 as omega-3 fatty acids typically come from marine sources."

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