Customized report service – Omega market in Canada, United States and Mexico

May 2019

Executive summary

Essential Omega fatty acids such as Omega-3 containing nutrients primarily found in certain fish and plant sources including docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), are said to be important in preventing and managing heart disease, along with many other health benefits. Four promotional prime positioning claims manufacturers use on their Omega-3 fortified/functional (FF), organic or naturally healthy (NH) food product labels are beneficial claims based on heart, eye, digestive and brain health. Omega-6, a pro-inflammatory and the more controversial arachidonic acid (AA) vital to the operation of the prostaglandin system are also important fatty acids to help, respectively, in controlling inflammation and aiding in muscle growth along with improving metabolism, amongst other health benefits.

The United States had the largest retail sales value (US$2,767.3 million) within the omega food and beverage market, followed by Canada (US$255.5 million) and then Mexico (US$570.3 million) in 2018. Each country differs in their 5-year growth rates from 2013 to 2018, whereby Canada had small growth with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.2%, while the growth in the United States (US) declined at −1.3% and Mexico had the most growth at 4.8%. There is evidence that suggests that consumers still need to better understand or see the immediate tangible health benefits that FF foods provide over taking omega supplements. Leading manufacturers in the market such as Nestlé, Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB), Abbott Laboratories Inc., and Unilever have worked on re-introducing clean labelling by using prime positioning claims on the packaging, providing understandable benefits for FF omega ingredients; backed up by strong scientific evidence of omega being promoted as a life long friend, where opportunities don't only exist for children in the milk formula category but also for the aging population to maintain self-fluidityFootnote 1.

Omega-3 fatty acids including DHA, EPA and ALA, had the largest retail sales in all three selected countries mainly due to the driving demand within the milk formula sector – claiming in the US alone, a combined total of Omega-3, 6 and Omega-3 DHA milk formula sales of US$2,575.1 million in 2018. Total Omega-3 sales during that same year represented a value of US$1,106.7 million in the US (40.0%) of the overall omega market. Meanwhile, Canada represented a value of US$150.5 million (58.9%) and Mexico at a value of US$490.0 million (85.9%). As you break down Omega-3 into sub-type categories other than Omega-3 by itself, each country  once again, differs within the key functional ingredients in which they specialize in retailing. Canada retails their FF milk formula containing added Omega-3 DHA, while the US retails Omega-3 DHA like Canada along with Omega-3 ALA, found in their FF butter and spread products. Mexico is the only country that retails their FF milk formula containing added AA, along with FF milk formula containing added Omega-3 DHA and Omega-3 EPA.

According to Mintel, a total of 4,502 products that contain omega were launched throughout Canada, US and Mexico between 2014 and 2018. A considerable number of omega products contain oils such as low erucic acid rapeseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower seed oil, vegetable oils and palm oil. Amongst these products, Omega-3 DHA is the most commonly used key functional ingredient. However, due to the small amount of products found throughout North America and Mexico that differentiate between plant-based or of animal based products, it is difficult to determine whether there is a growing consumption trend toward a higher preference between vegetarian or of animal origin infused DHA products. When determining the popularity of plant-based Omega-6 products containing key ingredient, Evening primrose oil (EPO) (145) or Borage oil (88), a global search was conducted since it's still a small market with a combined total of 233 food and beverage products. No products were reported throughout North America and Mexico containing EPO, and Mexico is the only country who had one product containing borage oil within their Herbacil Honey & Eucalyptus medicated candies, manufactured by Broncolin.

Introduction to the Omega market

A study completed on countries including the US, United Kingdom (UK) and China, found that most individuals were not getting enough of the daily recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acidsFootnote 1. Omega-3 can be naturally found in certain fish, where the fish's oil can either contain crucial fatty acids such as DHA or EPA. APA is another omega-3 fatty acid, that is found in plant sources such as nuts, seeds, grains and legumesFootnote 2. These omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that are important in preventing and managing heart disease like helping to lower blood pressureFootnote 3. Among the multiple health benefits that Omega-3s are said to have include improving eye health, promoting brain health during pregnancy and early life in children, improving risk factors for heart disease and fighting depression and anxietyFootnote 4.

Omega-6 fatty acids, like Omega-3s, are essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that the body cannot produce on its own and that can only be obtained through food and/or supplements. It is important to the brain and plays an integral role in growth and development like stimulating skin and hair growth, maintaining good bone health, regulating metabolism, keeping the reproductive system healthy, reducing nerve pain, among many other health benefits. The main issue with Omega-6s and Omega-3s are that they don't have the same effects, as scientists believe that they form different eicosanoids with different activities, meaning they compete for enzymes necessary for eicosanoid synthesis and Omega-6 are considered to be pro-inflammatory (can be anti-inflammatory, as well), while Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory. What's important since they are both necessary nutrients to protect against infection and injury, along with preventing severe damage to tissues and/or aiding against the development of chronic disease, is in maintaining a proper balance of the two fatty acids in one's dietFootnote 5. When Omega-6 is in excess, bad results can occur and this excess has been linked to contributing to detrimental health outcomes in terms of chronic cardiovascular, inflammatory and psychiatric diseases. A healthy ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 ranges from 1:1 to 1:3Footnote 6.

AA is another essential Omega-6 fatty acid mentioned in this report. Back in the early 2000's, there was a great deal of controversy about the benefits of AA. Some information said that an imbalance of AA, other than what is consumed in small amounts in our regular diets (largely in red meat), can cause health problems while other sources said it is needed to aid in muscle growth (especially among vegetarians or body builders). However, since then research has shown that the effects of AA is not that simple and is vital to the operation of the prostaglandin system which contains substances called eicosanoids that influence metabolic activities including blood clotting, inflammation, hemorrhaging, lowering blood pressure, and immune function etc. As does Omega-6 and Omega-3 compete with each other, so does AA compete with itself, which can produce bad (pro-inflammatory) and good eicosanoids (anti-inflammatory), to create imbalance in the body. Nevertheless, if you work out your muscles during intense weight training, you are creating tissue injury or micro trauma and AA's inflammation effects is the active chemical messenger first released by your muscles and therefore helps to heal muscle trauma, as exercise lowers the amount of AA inflammation and thereby regulates the intensity of all growth signals released during and after intense physical exercise. Mexico is the only selected country in this report to use AA within their FF milk formula products. With AA supplements or FF food products on the market, the key message to athletes concerned in muscle gain is to be aware that they need enough Omega-3 fatty acids to balance their dietary intake of the Omega-6 AA fatty acid. Those suffering from inflammatory conditions should stay away from the pro-inflammatory ingredientFootnote 6.

EPO comes from the seeds of a Native American wildflower that is an Omega-6 fatty acid that contains 7-10% gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and professionals suggest that this oil may reduce pain, swelling and morning stiffness. EPO is often used in treating these symptoms in rheumatoid arthritis cases, which may not stop the progression of the disease but after longer term usage of at least six months, it is said to lessen the pain caused by this inflammatory disorderFootnote 7. EPO is still a small market in food, where there are no reported products found within North America and Mexico. Globally, EPO was found in small amounts within herbal teas and later, salad oils, baby formulas, pumpkin seeds and nuts, and herbal candies.

Borage is a plant where oil can be extracted from its seeds. The oil has been used to treat various degenerative diseases or used as a medicine within several cosmetics and personal care products, to treat various skin conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammation, to name a few health benefits. In addition, Borage oil has been added to infant formula in small amounts, to provide fatty acids needed to promote development of preterm infants. In foods, borage is eaten in salads and soups and can help regulate hormone problems like increasing breast milk production, preventing inflammation of the lungs, regulating sweating and treating bronchitis and coldsFootnote 8. Borage was found only in an herbal candy within Mexico.

Retail sales by functional ingredient – Canada

Retail sales for products that contain omega fatty acids are reported within Euromonitor under the Health and Wellness (H&W) sector under focus categories that contain various omega types as the key functional ingredient. There is no forecast data available for these functional ingredients. Globally, the most popular food-based omega fatty acids have been found in milk formula and spreadable oils and fats.

In Canada, those products that contain omega either within the naturally healthy (NH), fortified functional (FF) or organic categories include FF milk formula, FF butter and spreads, NH cereal bars and organic cereal bars. FF milk formula is driving the demand for products that particularly contain Omega-3, 6 and Omega-3 DHA with retail sales value of US$236.1 million in 2018, accounting for 92.4% sales share within the total omega market throughout Canada. Organic cereal bars containing Omega-3, with much smaller sales value, have historically increased strongly at a CAGR of 18.9% between 2014 and 2018. However, the total Omega-3 market has declined during that same time period by a CAGR of negative −0.7%. This decline in the sales may suggest that consumers have lost interest or misunderstand the tangible benefit of how to obtain a balanced diet of essential fish oils/omega fatty acids within a food format other than milk formula.

Canadian products containing omega – historical retail sales value in US$ millions – fixed 2018 exchange rates
Category 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 CAGR* % 2014-2018
Omega by product and by type[1] 253.5 260.6 249.2 252.2 255.5 0.2
Fortified/functional (FF) milk formula: 222.2 227.7 231.1 233.6 236.1 1.5
Omega-3, 6 99.9 102.5 103.9 105.2 106.3 1.6
Omega-3 DHA[2] 122.3 125.2 127.2 128.4 129.8 1.5
FF butter and spreads (Omega-3) 16.8 18.0 19.0 19.6 20.5 5.1
Naturally healthy (NH) cereal bars (Omega-3) 15.3 15.8 3.3
Organic cereal bars (Omega-3) 0.1 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.2 18.9
Total Omega-3: 154.6 159.1 146.4 148.2 150.5 −0.7

Source: Euromonitor International, 2019

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate

1: Some brands feature multiple key functional omega ingredients. To avoid double counting the aggregate totals may not equal the sum of omega sub-types.

2: Docosahexaenoic Acid

The FF milk formula category leads sales in the omega market. Top companies within the overall market were Nestlé SA, Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB), and Abbott Laboratories Inc. for their FF milk formula brands such as Good Start, Enfamil, Enfrapro, Enfragrow, Similac and PediaSure, respectively. Private label brands have held a 5.1% share for their FF butter and spread products, while also holding 100% share in the organic cereal bars category containing Omega-3 over the last 5-years (2013-2017). PepsiCo Inc. held 100% share for their NH cereal bars containing Omega-3 (Quaker brand) up until 2015. This may suggest that manufacturers are no longer placing claims on their product labels as being positioned as 'naturally healthy' products.

Top 3 Canadian company shares for omega products – historical categorized by product and by type, % breakdown
Company name Top brand(s) 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Omega by product 57.4 56.9 56.7 60.2 90.6
Nestlé SA Good Start 29.8 29.6 29.5 31.3 31.4
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB) Enfamil, Enfapro, Enfagrow 30.2
Abbott Laboratories Inc. Similac 27.6 27.3 27.2 28.9 29.0
Omega by type: Functional/fortified milk formula 65.2 64.9 65.0 64.9 98.0
Nestlé SA Good Start 33.9 33.8 33.8 33.8 33.9
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB) Enfamil, Enfapro, Enfagrow 32.7
Abbott Laboratories Inc. Similac, PediaSure 31.3 31.1 31.2 31.1 31.4
Omega by type: Functional/fortified butter and spreads 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Unilever Group Becel 64.2 64.4 64.5 64.5 64.7
Lactalis, Groupe Lactantia 30.7 30.5 30.4 30.4 30.2
Private label Private label 5.1 5.1 5.1 5.1 5.1
Omega by type: Naturally healthy cereal bars 100.0 100.0 100.0
PepsiCo Inc. Quaker 100.0 100.0 100.0
Omega by type: Organic cereal bars 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Private Label Private label 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Source: Euromonitor International, 2018

Within the omega category, the retail value sales have been combined into sub-categories by type either containing AA, Omega 6, products containing both Omega-3 and 6 or those products that contain only Omega-3 sub-types such as Omega-3 ALA, Omega-3 DHA, and Omega-3 EPA. Canada only participates in retailng products which either contain both Omega-3, 6 or Omega-3 sub-types, alone. The largest market is for products containing only Omega-3 sub-types at 58.9% share between the two types, where Omega-3 by organic cereal bars had the fastest growth at a CAGR of 18.9% between 2013 and 2017.

Canadian products containing omega, by type – 2018 based on retail sales value, US$ millions
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  • Omega 3, 6: US$106.3 million (41.6%)
  • Omega 3: US$150.5 million (58.9%)

Source: Euromonitor International, 2019

Total omega sales: US$255.5 millionFootnote 9

More specifically, the percentage breakdown of the total sales of products fortified with Omega-3 sub-types in 2018 (US$150.5 million) shows that 86.2% of the products contained Omega-3 DHA by FF milk formula, at a CAGR of 1.5% from 2013 to 2017.

Canadian products containing Omega 3, by sub-type – % breakdown in 2018 based on retail sales value, US$ millions
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  • Omega 3: US$20.7 million (13.2%)
  • Omega 3 DHA: US$129.8 million (86.2%)

Source: Euromonitor International, 2019

Total Omega-3 sales: US$150.5 million

Retail sales by functional ingredient – United States

In the US, those products that contain omega are found in either fortified functional (FF) or organic categories which include FF milk formula, FF butter and spreads, and organic cereal bars. FF milk formula that contain either Omega-3, 6 or Omega-3 DHA had retail sales value of US$2,575.1 in 2018, accounting for 93.1% sales share within the total omega market throughout the US. Organic cereal bars containing Omega-3, with a much smaller sales value, have historically not been as popular than in Canada with a negative growth rate (CAGR) of −14.2% between 2014 and 2018. In fact, all products containing the available types of omega had negative growth rates over the same period, at the exception of FF butter and spreads that contain solely Omega-3 ingredients with a CAGR of 1.5%.

American products containing omega- historical retail sales value in US$ millions – fixed 2018 exchange rates
Category 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 CAGR* % 2014-2018
Omega by product and by type 2,914.9 2,849.0 2,818.1 2,774.2 2,767.3 −1.3
Fortified/functional (FF) milk formula 2,655.7 2,618.4 2,610.3 2,576.9 2,575.1 −0.8
Omega 3, 6 1,690.8 1,666.5 1,677.3 1,668.7 1,660.6 −0.4
Omega-3 DHA[1] 964.9 951.9 933.0 908.2 914.5 −1.3
FF butter and spreads 237.2 213.4 196.5 185.6 180.3 −6.6
Omega-3 ALA[2] 168.1 137.4 123.3 114.4 106.9 −10.7
Omega-3 69.1 76.0 73.2 71.3 73.4 1.5
Organic cereal bars (Omega-3) 22.0 17.2 11.2 11.6 11.9 −14.2
Total Omega-3: 1,224.1 1,182.5 1,140.7 1,105.5 1,106.7 −2.5

Source: Euromonitor International, 2019

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate

1: Docosahexaenoic Acid

2: Alpha-Linolenic Acid

Within the US, Abbott Laboratories Inc. had the highest share value in 2017 at 45.4%, leading over its competitors such as Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB) and Nestlé SA, for their FF milk formula brands including Similac and PediaSure. Top brands such as Smart Balance and Earth Balance within the FF butter and spread omega products have held 100% shares, consecutively passed down to three companies including Pinnacle Foods Inc., Boulder Brands Inc., and formerly named Smart Balance Inc. Boulder Brands held 100% share within the category from 2013 to 2016, then 100% share was transferred to Pinnacle Foods from 2016 to 2017.

Similar to Canada after 2015, the US have had no products over the last five years with claims on their product labels as being positioned as 'naturally healthy'. Nature's Path Foods Inc. company has held 100% share for their Nature's Path brand containing Omega-3, within the organic cereal bar category.

Top 3 company shares in US for omega products – historical categorized by product and by type, % breakdown
Company name Top brand(s) 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Omega by product 58.8 58.4 59.0 60.0 89.7
Abbott Laboratories Inc. Similac, PediaSure 36.7 40.2 42.4 44.3 45.4
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB) Enfamil, Enfagrow 29.0
Nestlé SA Gerber, Good Start 22.1 18.2 16.6 15.7 15.3
Omega by type: Functional/fortified milk formula 65.2 64.2 64.2 64.8 96.6
Abbott Laboratories Inc. Similac, PediaSure 40.7 44.2 46.2 47.8 48.9
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB) Enfamil, Enfagrow 31.2
Nestlé SA Gerber, Good Start 24.5 20.0 18.0 17.0 16.5
Omega by type: Functional/fortified butter and spreads 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Pinnacle Foods Inc. Smart Balance, Earth Balance 100.0 100.0
Boulder Brands Inc. Earth Balance, Smart Balance 100.0 100.0 100.0
Smart Balance Inc. Earth Balance, Smart Balance
Omega by type: Organic cereal bars 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Nature's Path Foods Inc. Nature's Path 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Source: Euromonitor International, 2018

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth

The United States also participates in retailing products which contain combined Omega-3, 6 or Omega-3 sub-types, alone. The largest market is for products containing combined Omega-3, 6 with sales of US$1,660.6 million, representing 60% of sales value in 2018.

American products containing omega, by type – 2018 based on retail sales value, US$ millions
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  • Omega-3, 6: US$1,660.6 million (60.0%)
  • Omega-3 DHA: US$1,106.7 million (40.0%)

Source: Euromonitor International, 2019

Total omega sales: US$2,767.3 million

More specifically, the percentage breakdown of the total sales of products fortified with Omega-3 sub-types in 2018 (US$1,106.7 million) shows that 82.6% of the products contained Omega-3 DHA by FF milk formula, yet has declined at a CAGR of −1.3% from 2013 to 2017. This decline in growth is almost opposite as the growth rate for those Omega-3 DHA FF milk formula products sold in Canada during the same period, produced by the same manufacturers in either country, whereby in contrast Abbott Laboratories Inc. led the market followed by Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB) and Nestlé SA.

American products containing Omega-3, by sub-type – % breakdown in 2018 based on retail sales value, US$ millions
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  • Omega-3 DHA: US$914.5 million (82.6%)
  • Omega-3 ALA: US$106.9 million (9.7%)
  • Omega-3: US$85.3 million (7.7%)

Source: Euromonitor International, 2019

Total omega sales: US$1,106.7 million

Retail sales by functional ingredient – Mexico

In Mexico, those products that contain omega are found only in FF products which include FF milk formula and FF butter and spreads. FF milk formula that contain several different omega by type variations, had retail sales value of US$512.1 in 2018, accounting for 89.8% sales share within the total omega market throughout Mexico.

In 2018, Mexico had total omega retail sales value of US$570.3 million. Although the omega market is smaller than its neighboring countries, unlike Canada and the US, all omega products by type have been growing between 2014 and 2018. In addition, Mexico is the only country who fortifies their milk formula with the often controversial, AA ingredient at sales of US$46.7 million in 2018.

Mexican products containing omega- historical retail sales value in US$ millions - fixed 2018 exchange rates
Category 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 CAGR* % 2014-2018
Omega by product and by type[1] 472.8 493.6 508.0 543.2 570.3 4.8
Fortified/functional (FF) milk formula 421.1 439.5 454.1 486.7 512.1 5.0
Omega-3 DHA[2]

348.7

367.0 381.9 410.0 431.8 5.5
Arachidonic acid (AA) 42.1 41.7 41.3 44.3 46.7 2.6
Omega-3, 6 30.3 30.9 30.9 32.4 33.6 2.6
Omega-3 EPA[3] 16.6 17.3 17.8 18.9 19.8 4.5
Fortified/functional butter and spreads (Omega-3) 51.7 54.1 53.9 56.5 58.3 3.0
Total Omega-3: 400.4 421.1 435.8 466.5 490.0 5.2

Source: Euromonitor International, 2019

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate

1: Some brands feature multiple key functional omega ingredients. To avoid double counting the aggregate totals may not equal the sum of omega sub-types.

2: Docosahexaenoic Acid

3: Eicosapentaenoic Acid

Within Mexico, leading FF milk formula companies (that follows suit with Canada) are Nestlé SA but for different top brands such as Nan and SMA and Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB) company who entered the Mexican market with a 22.2% share in 2017 with their Enfagrow and Enfamil brands, including Lactum. In 2017, Unilever Group held the third largest share of omega by product at 10.4% for their top FF butter and spread brands, Primavera and Becel. Unilever Group, is the only company within Mexico retailing these brands within the FF Omega-3 butter and spreads category (100.0% share value).

Up until 2013, Grupo Lala SAB de CV retailed their FF yoghurt brand "Lala" within Mexico.

Top 3 company shares in Mexico for omega products- historical categorized by product and by type, % breakdown
Company name Top brand 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Omega by product 53.8 54.0 53.5 52.7 74.7
Nestlé SA Nan, SMA 42.9 43.1 42.5 42.1 42.1
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB) Enfagrow, Enfamil, Lactum 22.2
Unilever Group Primavera, Becel 10.9 10.9 11.0 10.6 10.4
Omega by type: Functional/fortified milk formula 59.7 60.0 59.4 58.7 83.1
Nestlé SA Nan, SMA 48.2 48.3 47.7 47.1 46.9
Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc (RB) Enfagrow, Enfamil, Lactum 24.7
Abbott Laboratories Inc. Similac 11.5 11.7 11.7 11.6 11.5
Omega by type: Functional/fortified butter and spreads 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Unilever Group Primavera, Becel 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Omega by type: Functional/fortified yoghurt 100.0
Grupo Lala SAB de CV Lala 100.0

Source: Euromonitor International, 2018

*CAGR: Compound Annual Growth Rate

Mexico participates in retailing Omega-3,6, Omega-3 sub-type products, along with added AA ingredient within their FF milk formula products. The largest market is for products containing Omega-3 sub-types with sales of US$490.0 million, representing 85.9% of total omega sales value in 2018.

Mexican products containing omega, by type – 2018 based on retail sales value, US$ millions
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  • Total Omega-3: US$490.0 million (85.9%)
  • Arachidonic acid - AA: US$46.7 million (8.2%)
  • Omega-3, 6: US$33.6 million (5.9%)

Source: Euromonitor International, 2019

Total omega sales: US$570.3 millionFootnote 9

More specifically in Mexico, the percentage breakdown of the total sales of products fortified with Omega-3 sub-types in 2018 (US$490.0 million) shows that 88.1% of the products contained Omega-3 DHA by FF milk formula, and has grown at a CAGR of 5.5% from 2014 to 2018. Unlike Canada and the US, Mexico has added Omega-3 EPA within the FF milk formula category, which has grown during the 5-years at 4.5%.

Mexican products containing Omega-3, by sub-type – % breakdown in 2018 based on retail sales value, US$ millions
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  • Omega-3 DHA: US$431.8 million (88.1%)
  • Omega-3: US$58.3 million (11.9%)
  • Omega-3 EPA: US$19.8 million (4.0%)

Source: Euromonitor International, 2019

Total Omega-3 sales: US$490.0 millionFootnote 9

Product launch analysis – Canada, United States and Mexico

According to Mintel's Global New Products Database (2019), a total of 4,502 products that contain omega were launched throughout Canada, US and Mexico between 2014 and 2018. In which, 4,220 products were from within the food category and 282 drink products were launched over the 5-year period (an additional 222 pet food products were launched, most popularly from within the US). Out of these, the number of new products, new packaging or new variety/range extension launch types were on average around 1,359 products launched within each of the three categories, while 384 products were relaunched and 41 consisted of a new formulation.

Number of products launched containing omega in North America and Mexico, by launch type, historical (2014-2018)
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  • New product: 1,124
  • New packaging: 1,510
  • New variety/range extension: 1,443
  • Relaunch: 384
  • New formulation: 41

Source: Mintel, 2018

Number of products launched containing omega in North America and Mexico, product item count, historical (2014-2018)
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Country 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Total
Mexico 123 128 173 189 186 799
United States 289 372 400 269 313 1,643
Canada 484 396 441 294 445 2,060

Source: Mintel, 2018

A considerable number of omega products contain oils such as low erucic acid rapeseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower seed oil, vegetable oils and palm oil. The product item count also demonstrate that plant based DHA are marginally found in more products (8), than in animal origin DHA (1). These results when comparing among a few countries, make it difficult to determine whether there is a growing trend over the consumption preference for vegetarian or animal based Omega-3 DHA products. When comparing to global results there are 17,442 omega products and only DHA found in food products were reported (not specified as either non-animal or of animal origin within the top 100 ingredients); where DHA (food) was found in 548 products or 3.1% of the time. Top countries indicating DHA (food) as an ingredient were Thailand (96), Indonesia (84) and then the product count drops down to United Kingdom (30), including the US (29) as the fourth biggest market.

Overall, ranked out of the top 100 ingredients, a small number of products were functionally fortified or naturally contained Omega-3 fatty acids (53) such as DHA (51), EPA (47) and ALA (4) sub-types. Arachidonic acid was reported in 13 out of the 4,502 omega food and drink products, equivalent to 0.3% of the time. Lastly, Omega-6 fatty acids were only reported in 11 products.

Key functional ingredients found in North American and Mexican omega products by ingredient type and product item count, historical (2014-2018)
Key functional ingredients Number of products Share* (%)
Low erucic acid Rapeseed oil 1,056 24.4
Soybean oil 682 15.8
Sunflower seed oil 518 12.0
Vegetable oils 342 7.9
Palm oil 252 5.8
Coconut oil 162 3.7
Cocoa fat 162 3.7
Olive oil 127 2.9
Palm kernel oil 110 2.5
Sunflower seed oil - high oleic acid 102 2.4
Extra virgin Olive oil 99 2.3
Butter 96 2.2
Safflower seed oil 88 2.0
Linseed oil 77 1.8
Corn oil 75 1.7
Edible fats and oils 62 1.4
Vegetable fats 62 1.4
Fish fats 60 1.4
Palm Olein 54 1.2
Omega-3 fatty acids (20) 53 1.2
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA food) (24) 42 0.97
Arachidonic acid (AA food) (45) 13 0.30
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA food) (47) 12 0.28
Omega-6 fatty acids (49) 11 0.25
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA non-animal origin) (58) 8 0.18
Omega-9 fatty acids (68) 6 0.14
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (75) 4 0.09
Linoleic acid (food) (78) 3 0.07
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA animal origin) (91) 1 0.02

Source: Mintel, 2018

*: Share percentage out of total sample size of 4,502 products

When narrowing the search to promotional prime positioning claims manufacturers often place on their omega FF, organic or NH food products, there were 510 products with claims found to be beneficial to the heart, brain, digestive and eye health. Among these products, the top prime positioning claim found in 299 products or 58.6% of the time on the packaging of these products that contain omega were for functional cardiovascular/heart health. Among the other prime positional claims, there were 182 products claiming to be beneficial to the brain/nervous system, 160 products with the digestive health claim, and 100 products said to be beneficial for functional eye health.

Top prime positioning claims containing omega: "heart, brain, digestive and eye" health, product item count, historical (2014-2018)
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Claim Products
Total sample 510
Functional – cardiovascular 299
Kosher 270
Low/no/reduced allergen 260
Gluten free 221
Functional – brain and nervous system 182
GMO free 180
Functional – digestive 160
Functional – other 153
Ethical – environmentally friendly package 145
Functional – eye health (19) 100

Source: Mintel, 2018

The top claims used in the US were for cardiovascular/heart and digestive heath, while Canada retailed more brain and nervous system and eye health claims, as Mexico focused more on cardiovascular/heart and digestive health claims.

Prime positioning claims containing omega in North America and Mexico product item count, historical (2014-2018)
Country Cardiovascular / heart health Brain and nervous system health Digestive health Eye health
United States 126 69 101 27
Canada 86 73 17 67
Mexico 87 40 42 6
Total 299 182 160 100
Source: Mintel, 2019

Evening Primrose oil products

In Mintel, there are no reported food and beverage products that contain Evening Primrose oil (EPO) throughout North America and Mexico. On a global scale, the market remains small as there were 145 (105 food and 40 beverage) products launched worldwide that contained "primrose" as an ingredient on the package labelling between 2014 and 2018 (either in seed oil or extract form). Globally, EPO was found in small amounts within herbal teas and water, salad oils, baby formulas, pumpkin seeds and nuts, herbal candies and a non-alcoholic Floral Virgin Gin & Tonic beverage, manufactured by 'The Duchess' company from South Africa (not imported).

The top company was Namyang Dairy Products, that manufactured 30 products in the leading country of South Korea including several baby powdered milk formulas, an egg brand, organic fruit chews, organic cheese slices for babies and domestic first soy milk brands from stage 1 up to stage 3 (1-4 years of age); with the most popular brand being 'Namyang I am Mother'. Other top countries involved within the EPO market include Germany, Japan, Vietnam and UK.

Top 10 companies (top brand) for product launches containing "primrose" as an ingredient, product item count, historical (2014-2018)
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Company Products
Namyang Dairy Products (Namyang I am Mother) 30
Coca-Cola (Sokenbicha) 17
Ricola (Ricola) 13
Lidl (Alpenfest) 7
The Lovely Candy Company (Lovely Candy Co.) 5
Spar (Spar Vital) 3
Emart (Emart & Pasteur Smart) 3
Swire Coca-Cola Beverages (Coca-Cola Healthy & Beauty Tea) 2
Salus-Haus (Salus) 2
Bodeta Süsswaren (BIOdeta Genuss Pur Biobonbons) 2

Source: Mintel, 2018

Top 10 countries worldwide for product launches containing "primrose" as an ingredient, product item count, historical (2014-2018)
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Country Products
South Korea 32
Germany 17
Japan 17
Vietnam 17
United Kingdom 10
Poland 7
India 7
Netherlands 5
Finland 5
France 4

Source: Mintel, 2018

Within a sample size of 145 products, globally EPO was among the main ingredient within 57 products. DHA was found in these food or drink products 25.5% of the time, and AA (18.6%).

Key functional ingredients worldwide for product launches containing "primrose", product item count, historical (2014-2018)
Key functional ingredients Number of products Share* (%)
Food acids 77 53.1
Vitamin C 70 48.3
Evening primrose oil (EPO) 57 39.3
Citric acid (food) 45 31.0
Vitamins (food) 44 30.3
Beta-carotene 41 28.3
Soybean oil 40 27.6
Dextrin (food) 39 26.9
Taurine (food) 37 25.5
Docosahexaenoic acid (food) (10) 37 25.5
Arachidonic acid (food) (28) 27 18.6

Source: Mintel, 2018

*: Share percentage out of total sample size of 145 products

Borage oil products

Borage is a plant where oil can be extracted from its seeds. In Mintel, there are no reported food and beverage products that contain Borage oil throughout North America. However, in Mexico there is one product that contains borage fluid extract (Borago officinalis) which was relaunched in 2017 with a new packaging and a new brand name, called 'Herbacil - Honey and Eucalyptus Candies.' On a global scale there were 88 (57 food and 31 drink) products launched worldwide that contained "Borage" as an ingredient on the package labelling between 2014 and 2018.

The top company was Dr. Chung's Food, which manufactured 10 products within the leading country of South Korea including an immune forte balanced nutritional supplement drink, an infant soy formula 1 baby food brand and several baby soy milk brands from step 1 up to step 3 (0-4 years of age); with the most popular brand being 'Vegemil Toddler Woorikong'. Other top countries with borage as an ingredient in products include Germany, Iran and Peru.

Top 10 companies (top brand) for product launches containing "borage" as an ingredient, product item count, historical (2014-2018)
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Company Products
Dr. Chung's Food (Vegemil Toddler Woorikong) 10
Eko Business (Sunka Diet) 4
Enervit (Enervit EnerZona Snack 40-30-30) 3
Lotte Foods (Pasteur with Mom) 3
Aurandina (Wawasana) 3
Emart (Emart & Pasteur Smart) 3
Binalood Gol Kooh (Gol Kooh) 2
Induloja (Forestea) 2
Carl Kühne (Kühne Enjoy) 2
BioSurya (Ahimsa) 2

Source: Mintel, 2019

Top 10 countries worldwide for product launches containing "borage" as an ingredient, product item count, historical (2014-2018)
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Description of above image
Country Products
South Korea 18
Germany 14
Iran 11
Peru 10
Spain 9
Italy 6
France 4
Ecuador 4
United Kingdom 3
Poland 2

Source: Mintel, 2019

Within a sample size of 88 products, globally Borage was the top ingredient within 45 food or beverage products, while borage seed oil was a key functional ingredient in 25 products. AA was found in these borage products 19.3% of the time and DHA (15.9%). Other main oils found in such products were soybean and palm oil.

Key functional ingredients worldwide for product launches containing "borage", product item count, historical (2014-2018)
Key functional ingredients Number of products Share* (%)
Borage 45 51.1
Food acids 36 40.9
Salt 31 35.2
Borage seed oil 25 28.4
Soy Lecithin 21 23.9
Vitamins (food) 19 21.6
Medium chain Triglycerides (food) 19 21.6
White sugar 19 21.6
Soybean oil 18 20.5
Waters 18 20.5
Arachidonic acid (food) (11) 17 19.3
Maltodextrin (food) 17 19.3
Citric acid (food) 16 18.2
Docosahexaenoic acid (food) (14) 14 15.9
Nucleotides 14 15.9
Palm oil 12 13.6

Source: Mintel, 2018

*: Share percentage out of total sample size of 88 products

New product examples

Cardio Oil Mixture for Salads
Company Propharma
Brand Dr Gaja (Mikstura Olei Cardio do Salatek)
Category Sauces and seasoning / oils
Country Poland
Related claims Functional – cardiovascular, ease of use
Launch type New product
Date published November 2018
Price in US dollars 7.18
Nutrition Per 30 millilitre (ml) serving (8 servings per pack): Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid 11.4 grams (g), Omega-6 linoleic acid 7.2g, Omega-9 oleic acid 5.1g

Ingredients (standard form):

  1. linseed oil
  2. evening primrose oil
  3. thistle oil
  4. pumpkin seed oil

Product description: This dietary supplement product comprises unrefined cold pressed oils from linseed, evening primrose, thistle and pumpkin seed, which are claimed to have beneficial effects for heart health. The product is described as a source of: polyunsaturated fatty acids which help to lower the cholesterol levels in blood; alpha-linolenic acid omega-3, linoleic acid omega-6 and oleic acid omega-9 which help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels; linseed oil which is rich in omega-3; evening primrose which is a valuable ingredient for both pharmaceutics and cosmetic purpose; thistle oil which is rich in omega-6; and pumpkin seed oil which is broadly applicable. The product can be eaten directly or added to meals or salads and retails in a 250 ml pack, featuring the recipe ideas.

Honey and Eucalyptus Candies
Company Broncolin
Brand Herbacil
Category Sugar and gum confectionery / medicated confectionery
Country Mexico
Import status Not imported
Related claims No claims
Launch type Relaunch
Date published November 2017
Price in US dollars 0.87

Ingredients (standard form):

  1. bee honey
  2. glucose
  3. sugar
  4. anacahuita fluid extract (Cordia boissieri)
  5. borage fluid extract, (standard form) (Borago officinalis)
  6. cinnamon fluid extract (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
  7. eucalyptus fluid extract (Eucalyptus globulus)
  8. propolis
  9. natural menthol

Product description: Herbacil Caramelos de Miel y Eucalipto (Honey and Eucalyptus Candies) have been launched in a new packaging and a new brand name, previously known as Herbacil Sin Tos. The product contains herbal extracts and retails in a 40g pack.

Chocolate Peanut Protein Bar
Company Oatmega
Brand Oatmega
Category Snack/cereal/energy bars
Country Canada
Related claims Kosher, gluten-free, low/no/reduced allergen, high/added protein
Launch type

New product

Date published February 2019
Price in local currency CAD$2.49
Price in US dollars 1.88
Related nutrition Per 50g: Calories 200kcal (of which Calories from fat 60kcal), Fat 7g (11% DV) (of which Saturated Fat 2.5g, Trans Fat 0g, Polyunsaturated fat 2.5g (of which Omega-6 2g, Omega-3 0.3g), Monounsaturated fat 2.5g)

Ingredients (on pack):

  1. whey protein concentrate
  2. chicory root fiber
  3. whey protein crisp (whey protein isolate
  4. whey protein concentrate
  5. rice flour
  6. tapioca starch
  7. calcium carbonate)
  8. peanuts
  9. vegetable glycerin
  10. gluten-free oats
  11. tapioca syrup
  12. sugar
  13. natural flavours
  14. sunflower oil
  15. chocolate liquor
  16. fish oil
  17. cocoa powder
  18. cocoa butter
  19. soy lecithin
  20. almonds
  21. sea salt

Product description: Oatmega Chocolate Peanut Protein Bar is a gluten free bar with 7g fibre, 14g whey protein from grass-fed and pasture-raised cows without antibiotics, 0.3g DHA and EPA Omega-3s derived from sustainable marine sources and 5g sugar. This kosher certified and gluten-free product retails in a 50g pack featuring the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram logos.

Wild Caught Mahi-Mahi Loins
Company BJ's Wholesale Club / BJWC
Brand

Wellsley Farms (private label)

Category Processed fish, meat and egg products/fish products
Country United States imported from Taiwan
Related claims All natural product, gluten-free, low/no/reduced allergen, high/added protein
Launch type New product
Date Published February 2019
Price in US dollars 18.49

Product description: Wellsley Farms Wild Caught Mahi-Mahi Loins are said to be responsibly sourced. This all natural chemical- and gluten-free product has been skinned, deboned and trimmed, and can be enjoyed broiled, baked, blackened or sautéed. It retails in a 2 pound resealable pack containing individually vacuum packed five to seven pieces. This wild caught fish is rich in protein and each serving contains 136 milligram (mg) of omega-3. The manufacturer is said to use the knowledge and technology of their partners to offer a selection with the smallest impact on the long term health of the water's ecosystems.

Strawberry Flavored Fortified Food Supplement
Company Tiendas Chedraui
Brand Supra Med
Category Other beverages/meal replacements and other drinks
Country Mexico (not imported)
Related claims Functional – other, vitamin/mineral fortified, antioxidant, functional – cardiovascular/digestive/bone health/immune system/energy/eye health/skin, nails and hair, prebiotic, antioxidant, high/added protein
Launch type New product
Date published January 2019
Price in local currency MXN$34.00
Price in US dollars 1.78

Product description: This product is ready to drink. It is fortified with 24 vitamins and minerals, also contains fiber, and is indicated to help supplement normal nutrition. The gluten-free product contains proteins, prebiotics, antioxidants, folic acid, calcium and omega 3 and 6. FOS Prebiotics and inulin are said to improve gut health and digestion, whilst vitamin C and zinc strengthen the immune system. Folic acid is said to be important for growth, calcium strengthens bones, and proteins provide energy and help create and repair skin, organ and muscle tissue. Vitamin C protects cells from oxidative damage, and vitamin A promotes eye health. Fatty acids omega 3 and 6 are said to promote cardiovascular health.

Spicy Chia Flavored Air Popped Corn
Company Miraestels Foods
Brand 4 Buddies
Category Snacks/popcorn with chia seeds
Country Mexico (not imported), sold in Walmart stores    
Related claims No additives/preservatives or sugar, all natural product, low/no/reduced cholesterol, calorie, transfat and allergen. Wholegrain
Launch type New product
Date published May 2018
Price in local currency MXN$13.50
Price in US dollars 0.72
Nutrition Per 25g serving (1 serving per pack): Energy 464kJ/111kcal, Total fat 7g (of which Saturated Fat 1g, Polyunsaturated fat 3g (of which Omega 3 1g, Omega-6 2g), Monounsaturated fat 4g (of which Omega-9 4g), Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrate 10g (of which Sugars 0g), Dietary Fiber 5g, Protein 2g, Sodium 255mg.

Product description: 4 Buddies Palomitas de Maíz Cocinadas con Aire Caliente Sabor a Spicy Chia (Spicy Chia Flavored Air Popped Corn) is now available. This 100% natural and wholegrain popcorn is a good source of fiber, contains omega 3, 6 and 9, and is low in calories. It is free from added sugar, gluten, GMO, cholesterol, trans fat and preservatives.

Conclusion

Despite the association with a multitude of health benefits that the omega ingredient offers, the use of Omega-3s and Omega-6s has remained a slowly growing market in North America and Mexico, and these selected countries still need to expand its opportunity to fully infiltrate food and beverage products. Fish oils within Omega-3 sub-types, in particularly DHA, have been the main source manufacturers have added to their food products.

Certain consumers may still be deterred by the research that suggests that an imbalance of excess fatty acids can worsen or lead to certain chronic diseases. However, many consumers are aware of the health benefits and chose to use Omega-3 supplements, particularly Omega-3 DHA and Omega-3 EPA instead, to better maintain the proper intake of Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio. According to Euromonitor, although small in comparison to the food and drink market, sales of fish oils/Omega-3 supplements was the third fastest growing supplement category over the 2007-2012 period with a 12% CAGR; while consumers embraced its benefits for cardiovascular and mental health. These supplements did compete with herbal supplements such as ginsengFootnote 10.

The clean label trend in terms of transparency towards the naturalness or wholesomeness of ingredients, poses a new threat to Omega-3's inclusion as consumers look for products with easy to understand ingredients, and although long chain DHA or EPA Omega-3 fatty acids are proven to be more beneficial, consumers often need to see more immediate tangible health benefits that FF foods and beverages may offer. Approved health claims with more agreeable sounding ingredients is necessary as it can often be difficult to alter consumers' perception on achieving greater health benefits through the intake of omega fortified health and wellness products. According to industry sources, the majority of consumers have an awareness of Omega-3 being beneficial, but little detailed knowledge on specific variants or specific health claims. "Omega-3 manufacturers need to recognise that new developments like these are vital for further consumer acceptance and to have increased food and beverage fortification in developed markets"Footnote 11.

Resources

Customized report service – Omega market in Canada, United States and Mexico
Global Analysis Report

Prepared by: Erin-Ann Chauvin, Senior Market Analyst

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