At least 98% of consumers have now heard of omega-3 oils and more are likely to purchase products containing α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 oils, finds Cargill’s Fatitudes research.
The study looks at how consumers view omega-3 oils, in particular, could help food and beverage manufacturers develop products with messaging that is meaningful to grocery shoppers.
Specifically, DHA omega-3 has the most impact of purchase intent (23%) followed by EPA (16%) and ALA (11%).
Food News International asks Kristine Sanschagrin, Cargill’s marketing manager on the consumer awareness of omega-3 oils, market potential and the opportunities for food and beverage manufacturers.
FNI: What are the findings of this survey?
Sanschagrin: A nationally representative sample between the ages of 18 and 78 participated in the survey.
Respondents were screened for household grocery-shopping responsibility.
A total of 551 nationally representative surveys were completed in 2014.
Where applicable, 2014 results were compared to the 2013 survey.
In our 2013 survey, 96% of respondents had heard of omega-3 and this number increased to 98% in 2014.
Consumers are interested in eating a healthier diet–but they want to do it through convenience without sacrificing taste.
Media awareness of omega-3 oils is growing, educational programs through the medical and educational websites provide a source of information and consumers can search for answers through the Internet.
From our research, 2/3 of respondents know that omega-3 is good for you with about 50% know that it supports a healthy heart and brain.
All of these support a greater awareness of omega-3 oils, but we still need to do more.
We are interested in partnering with customers as well as key influencers and advisors who are interested in working with us to better educate consumers.
In this way, consumers can be aware of the importance of omega-3s in the diet and the long term impact of these ingredients health through a diet.
FNI: What do the survey findings mean to food and beverage manufacturers?
Sanschagrin: One of the challenges with omega-3 is that in the past a number of manufacturers have been interested in formulating with EPA/DHA omega-3 oil.
However, formulating a product that still tastes good at a reasonable cost has been a challenge.
There are now new products entering the market such as IngreVita that are easy to use (can be stored ambient), are a low cost per serving, and still provide sensory neutrality in both short and long shelf life products.
It is time for omega-3s and consumers now have a higher awareness and the baby boom generation (post World War II) is looking for products that will support a healthy lifestyle.
They have the purchasing power to support products.
At the same time, Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) want to consume nutrition through their food.
They have high awareness of DHA from the formula they are purchasing for their babies and they want to continue to provide that nutrition in foods for their families.
There are not many choices in the market that meets their budget.
The food manufacturers now have an opportunity to meet this growing need for both generations.
FNI: What is the future of omega-3 oils?
Sanschagrin: It is bright!
Innovation is providing new solutions for food manufacturers to formulate with greater ease at a lower cost.
Consumer awareness is growing and as the population continues to age, there is a great opportunity for new products to be introduced to support the benefits of EPA/DHA omega-3 – a healthy heart and healthy brain development.
More importantly, we have to do more on the ingredient side to support education of consumers, which could be providing information on websites or through advisors in the medical community.
By providing accurate and timely information about healthy choice, consumers will look for products containing EPA/DHA omega-3.