The future for Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) looks the most promising of all the functional food ingredients currently available, according to industry analysts.
Growing consumer demand for super-fortified foods has helped foster a European market worth US$195m for Omega-3 PUFAs, accounting for 28% of the global market volume.
Recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan shows that while the annual growth rate for the total European Omega-3 PUFA market in 2003 was 11%, it is likely to stabilise at a lower rate of 8% in the coming years. Europe is a more mature market compared to the United States where some key market participants are experiencing growth rates of over 20%.
“Increased media coverage and product availability have helped differentiate Omega-3 and Omega-6 PUFAs from saturated fats, promoting Omega-3 PUFAs as ‘good fats’, which are an essential part of the diet,” said Kathy Brownlie, industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan.
On the other hand, unclear legislation requirements in the European Union remain a challenge for the PUFA market. The absence of a specific recommended daily intake (RDI) is further restricting marketing efforts, weakening the impact of packaging and promotional messages.
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“Nonetheless, there has been increasing interest shown by foreign PUFA manufacturers to enter the European market,” Brownlie said.
“At least 50% of the global PUFA manufacturers are currently active in the European market at one or more stages of the supply chain,” she added.