Omega-3 fatty acids: $13 billion global market

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October 2011

Awareness of omega-3 fatty acids as being among the most important nutrients for physical and mental health has reached critical mass, according to a new report on “Omega-3: Global Product Trends and Opportunities” from Packaged Facts, a division of

Correspondingly, the number of consumers who are seeking out products with high omega-3 content has increased dramatically over the past few years. In the US market, for example, 9% of grocery shoppers buy high-omega-3 food or beverage products in a typical grocery shopping trip, and the percentage of adults who take fish oil supplements has climbed from 8% in 2006 to 17% in 2011.

In addition, consumers increasingly regard health and beauty care products as extensions of the foods they eat. What has emerged, according to David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts, is a new (and sometimes paradoxical) continuum of nutrient-positioned products extending from whole foods and fortified/functional foods through to nutritional supplements and personal care products. In the case of pet owners, this continuum also extends to pet foods, treats, supplements, and grooming products—essentially replicating the range of human products available.

Packaged Facts estimates that global consumer spending on omega-3 food and beverage products (excluding fish), health and beauty care products (including supplements), and pet products will reach $13 billion in 2011. Consumer demand for omega-3 products will continue growing briskly over the 2011–2015 forecast period and will influence the activities of marketers worldwide across various categories of consumer packaged goods, including the private-label arena.

Hurdles do remain for the omega-3 products market, the report notes. The medical and regulatory communities have not yet arrived at a consensus on the optimal intake of omega-3 fatty acids, or the relative benefits of increased consumption of marine- vs. plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. Correspondingly, there is confusion among consumers who associate “omega-3” with fish and fish oil rather than flax or other plant-based sources that are used in omega-3 fortification of foods. Nonetheless, favorable European regulatory changes for omega-3 health claims are expected by the end of 2011—changes that Packaged Facts says should ultimately further boost the omega-3 product marketing environment globally.

For further information about the report, visit