Omega 3: A rich source of health benefits and NPD opportunities

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11 Sep 2017 --- Omega 3’s benefits keep making the news in the world of nutrition, with the fatty acids’ tight connection to the healthy aging trend just one of the reasons why omega 3 continues to be on the tips of everyone’s tongues.

The varied health benefits of omega 3 make the news on a regular basis, as they did with the results of a scientific study, released today, that shows further evidence that taking omega 3 as part of a healthy diet with plenty of fiber and probiotic foods can improve the persity of the gut microbiome. Today, NutritionInsight checks in with industry figures and reports on the latest developments in omega 3 products.

Consumer trend shows shift in dosage
Krill oil is a specialty of Olympic/Rimfrost Krill, and this product is at the forefront of omega 3 supplementation. The company has noted that a consumer shift could be going on in favor of small dosage. “We see that the consumer trends are shifting to more small dosage – with better effects – of the omega 3 EPA/DHA, as for our high-specification omega 3 krill oil,” Henrik Traaholt, Vice President Sales Europe, Olympic/Rimfrost Krill, tells NutritionInsight. “We have seen that the higher dosage of omega 3, phospholipids and astaxanthin are bringing value for the supplement brands and for the global customers.”

“We supply four ingredients – omega 3 EPA/DHA, phospholipids, astaxanthin and choline – in capsules,” Traaholt says. “Higher dosage of EPA/DHA in Phospholipid and [a naturally] occurring high level of astaxanthin makes our extra-strength krill oil more suitable for combination products.”

Market looks to increased quality and new applications
As the omega 3 market evolves, the quality of inpidual products may also have to increase. “There is more focus on higher-quality krill oil now, meaning krill oil with high levels of omega 3 phospholipids and astaxanthin,” says Traaholt. “There is more of everything in our new Rimfrost krill oils. Our customers can use EFSA approved claims and marketing claims, that makes our new krill oil products unique. The challenge we see is the variation in quality of the omega 3 oils.”

“How should the consumer see the difference? We believe we have the answer,” Traaholt continues. “Rimfrost has doubled its sales in 2017 from 2016, and we [foresee] further double-digit growth in 2018. So understanding what’s important for health consumers, and delivering products thereafter, is key for our growth.”

Click to EnlargeThe infant nutrition market could also be an interesting application. To this end, Stepan Lipid Nutrition presented its portfolio of innovative ingredients at Vitafoods Europe 2017 and spotlighted its Marinol product line. The natural enzymatic process used to produce Marinol uses no chemicals and reduces saturated fatty acids.

“One of the things we think it’s good for could be infant formula, for instance, because infants don’t have a very well-developed fat digestion system and this is more or less a kind of predigestive state of the fat,” says Hiskias Keizer of Stepan Lipid Nutrition. “In infant formula you [can] already see that the carbohydrates are predigested [and] the proteins are predigested, but not yet the omega 3s. Babies need a lot of omega 3, so this could also be a very advantageous product for getting the omega 3 better available in babies as well.”

Cardiovascular health could also present an opportunity for omega 3 products. “Evonik has developed a superior omega 3 formulation which is a solid form of omega 3 (or other polyunsaturated fatty acids),” Dr. Ludger Eilers, Director of Food Ingredients at Evonik Health Care, tells NutritionInsight. “Our new product combines the highest concentration of solid omega 3 with unique bioavailability and unmatched stability. The product can be used in direct compression and high concentrated bioavailable small omega 3 tablets can be developed, which are easier to swallow than conventional products. Evonik will launch this product, branded as AvailOM, at Supply Side West and it will be a game changer in the omega 3 market.”

Innovation takes omega 3 to new places
Stepan Lipid Nutrition’s Marinol line includes OmegaWater and an Omega Smoothie. The OmegaWater, a recent US product launch, has 80mg EPA DHA per 16oz. serving and is rich in vitamins A, D, and E with just 18 calories, and the Omega Smoothie multi-serving has up to 1,500mg EPA DHA per 15ml serving. This high DHA concentration comes from the natural enzymatic process used to produce Marinol.

“This is an emulsion of omega 3 water,” says Hiskias Keizer of Stepan Lipid Nutrition. “Normally fats don’t mix very well with water at all because fats and water [are] more or less enemies of each other, but using this emulsification system […] we are able to actually mix omega 3 with water and put it in a drink which is almost clear and has a very good taste. This could be a future of adding omega 3 to a liquid or a water-like solution for oral use.”

For Rimfrost, innovation is important, but it is also a careful and collaborative process. “At Rimfrost we have developed high-phospholipid omega 3 products the last two years and a Protein & Omega 3 Powder,” says Traaholt. “We are first on the market with these products. Now we are working with our customers to roll it out in the market and give our customers consumer insights in their markets. We have new products in the R&D pipeline; however, [we will] work to establish the current [ones]. Our strength is that we can tailor-make products for our customers, so we [work on] innovations together with some of our key customers.”

Other new ingredients on the rise
Rimfrost is excited about its Ultra High Krill Oil. “Our brand-new Rimfrost Ultra High Krill Oil has been very well received by the market and by consumers,” says Traaholt. “A high astaxanthin content is key for consumers and a key quality marker for krill oils. We can deliver this due to our unique krill meal which we produce. Omega 3 phospholipids and astaxanthin together gives you an optimal product for many health indications. Astaxanthin as sole ingredient is still very popular; as Rimfrost delivers both high values of omega 3 phospholipids and astaxanthin, this makes our Rimfrost Krill products uniquely positioned in the market.”

“The new Rimfrost krill oils come with approved EFSA health claims in Europe,” Traaholt adds. “We are working on the regulatory approval for China and hope to have a development for this next year. Our Rimfrost Krill Oil and Rimfrost Krill Powder [are also] sold globally.”

The new uses of omega 3 keep increasing, and so do its health benefits. With new studies continuing to confirm potential new uses and existing qualities, the chances are that the market will continue to fill with products promising to assist with gut health, infant nutrition, healthy aging and a wide variety of other applications.

By Paul Creasy

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