Special Edition: Omega-3s

Stronger Together: Can Omega-3 combination supplements attract new buyers?

Photo: iStock/puhhha

While sales of omega-3 supplements have remained stagnant, brands and manufacturers are testing out the market with more omega-3 combination product launches.

There’s been an increase of product launches like Wiley’s Finest’s Wild Alaskan Fish Oil with Vitamin K2, or Nordic Naturals’ Omega Curcumin—where omega-3 shares the spotlight with another bioactive ingredient.

Some in the category see this as an opportunity to excite consumers and spark more action into the declining omega-3 dietary supplement category. Adam Ismail, executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) is one of them.

“I think it will certainly help. These types of products are largely appealing to new consumers that are not active in the omega-3 category, so they help bring new consumers to the market,” he told NutraIngredients-USA.

Brands are picking up the pace with new launches

Many brands agree that omega-3 in combination with other ingredients is picking up the pace in new product launches. Nordic Naturals CEO and founder Joar Opheim said that combination products are growing much faster than standard fish oil.

Sam Wiley, CEO and founder of Wiley’s Finest, said that combination omega-3 products have been on the market for a long time, and that the sudden new wave of them is simply “second or even third generation combinations.”

We feel that consumers are looking for new ways to reduce to total number of pills they have to take,” he added. “Since EPA & DHA Omega-3 fats are something the whole population needs to consume regardless of age or health needs, it makes sense to combine them with other lipid soluble nutrients.”

Still a small share of the market

But the market, which Euromonitor data says is worth $1.2bn in calendar year 2016, is still dominated by single omega-3 products. While Wiley’s Finest declined to comment, Nordic Naturals said that sales of single-ingredient omega-3 products dwarves that of the combinations.

“Overall I believe the majority of the market and the volume consumed today are single-ingredient products,” Ismail said. 

“It is actually not that easy to formulate a combination product with omega-3s because certain types of ingredients might affect the quality of the omega-3 oil and/or add bulk to the product requiring more capsules per serving or larger capsule sizes,” he added.

Opheim argued that the small share of combination finished products is also due to consumer awareness. “We've had a long time to do research, and to educate the public about the benefits of omega-3s,” he said. “Combination formulas are indeed becoming more popular, but it takes time to educate on exactly why complementary nutrients are so import to something like cellular health, which is where there’s much potential for benefit from these formulas.”

Bad Press: Image control for a mature industry

Omega-3s—or fish oil—are a household name when it comes to nutrients and dietary supplements, but declines are seen among the younger generations, especially because of bad press that have cast the image of fish oil as more of a snake oil, according to Opheim.

Contrary to what Ismail thinks, Opheim is more hesitant to say the growth of more combination launches may help the omega-3 market in general getting back on its feet. “Unfortunately, the growth in combinations won’t do much for the stagnant omega-3 market because the problem has a deeper origin than simply a maturing market,” he said.

“It’s a publicity issue. Over the past few years there have been many unjustified negative articles about omega-3s. These articles have been motivated by interests outside the natural products industry, which have essentially coopted the research,” he added. “When you dig into the science behind the negative press, you see major methodological flaws that undermine their validity. We do our best to call out these problems, but the public is often unaware at this level of detail.”

Opheim argues that the key to bring more media attention to omega-3’s benefits. “By focusing on education around omega-3s, and proactively marketing the benefits of omega-3 fats—from child development, to joint health, eye health, cardiovascular function, mental health, even healthy skin—we’ll be supporting public health in a big way,” said Opheim.

Omega-3 - Challenges and opportunities in 2017 and beyond

Sam Wiley and Adam Ismail are two of the panelists on the upcoming NutraIngredients-USA Omega-3 webinar. For more information about this FREE discussion and to register, please click HERE . 

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