Ocean Nutrition builds omega-3 awareness on Oprah

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Docosahexaenoic acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid

Ingredient supplier Ocean Nutrition Canada has taken the unusual step of advertising its omega-3 directly to consumers, in an attempt to build awareness of its ingredient and boost sales of co-branded fortified foods and beverages.

The company – which has already made significant efforts to build a recognizable image for its Meg-3 EPA/DHA ingredient – this week announced a major advertising campaign on Oprah.com.

The site of the popular talk show host is said to attract five million unique visitors and 75 million page views per month.

According to Ocean Nutrition, this type of consumer exposure will help Americans identify the Meg-3 brand, which is being increasingly highlighted in co-branded products.

“We’re always looking for ways to increase consumer awareness of Omega-3 EPA/DHA, and looking for ways to support our customers. We’re continually working with them to provide marketing support,”​ said Lori Covert, the company’s VP of marketing and communications.

Market share

Ocean Nutrition claims to hold 70 percent of the North American omega-3 food ingredient market.

Although its food ingredient business remains relatively small compared to the more established supplements business, this is rapidly picking up as consumer awareness increases, the company told NutraIngredients-USA.com earlier this year.

Ocean Nutrition's patented Powder-loc micro-encapsulation technology has allowed the company to add its omega-3 powders to an increasingly diverse range of mainstream food products through manufacturing agreements.

"Our technology has allowed us to put omega-3 into so many different applications. You get a whole variety of foods. It's becoming mainstream, we're getting national distribution with major brands,"​ he said.

These include products sold by Danone, Minute Maid, Tropicana and Unilever.

The Powder-loc micro-encapsulation technology protects the fish-derived omega-3 oil within a multi-shell inner matrix, with a protective outer shell surrounding it.

It is said, therefore, to create 'double protection' for the oil from both oxidation and the stress of food processing. The technology also allows the ingredient to withstand high temperatures and pasteurization processes.

Consumer awareness

According to market researcher Packaged Facts omega-3 enriched foods make up the strongest sector of the functional foods market in the US - and there is still room there for significant growth.

The market for these goods has grown from approximately $100m to more than $2bn in four years. The firm predicts this category will reach $7bn in sales by 2011.

According to Mintel, more than 1,000 products were launched worldwide in 2006 containing omega-3, with the biggest sectors coming from dairy, bakery and processed meats and fish. In 2007, the figure increased to 1,595.

In the past five years more than 3,000 omega-3 products have been launched worldwide, although the majority of these have been in Europe.

Ocean Nutrition in May told NutraIngredients-USA.com that it was working on creating brand awareness for its Meg-3, which is marked by a consumer-friendly eye-catching fish logo that can be used on the labeling of packaged products containing the ingredient.

The company this week said the Oprah campaign – which will see its product advertised on the site’s Dr Oz health section – was a “logical media forum given the power of Oprah”.

Branded Meg-3 contains both DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (or eicosapentaenoic acid). Studies have linked an adequate consumption of DHA to the promotion of brain, eye and heart health, while EPA has been linked to anti-inflammatory benefits.

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