Global association for omega-3s ventures into Asia
Global organisation for EPA and DHA omega-3 (GOED) has now turned its focus to the fast-evolving Asian market and is looking to tackle China as it is one Asia’s largest omega-3 market along with Japan, Indonesia and Australia.
Adam Ismail, executive director of GOED, told FoodNavigator-Asia that the current Asian omega-3 market is an exciting one.
GOED has partnered up with the Chinese Nutrition Society for a symposium next month in Beijing, he said. The topic for the first annual conference will be on omega-3 fatty acids and human brain health.
Ismail said that the main focus of the symposium is to educate health professionals about omega-3 and its benefits.
“In China, we want to reach out and work with the government and scientific groups… it is a matter of educating the industry, consumers and professionals and ultimately improving the market,” Ismail explained.
Responsible growth amid quality concerns
Entering the Asian market now is relevant because the awareness of omega-3s is in place and very recently consumers have had the disposable income to strengthen the market, he added.
Ismail said that there are quality issues that GOED wants to address within China.
“For example, there are supplements being sold as fish oils that contain vegetable oils,” he pointed out.
He added that one of the most popular products in the country, deep sea Alaskan salmon oil, is also in fact misbranded because it is anchovy oil.
GOED wants to increase its membership in China with responsible companies that manufacture high quality products and market them ethically.
“We are very transparent about our quality standards; they are very clear on our website. We discourage companies who fail to meet these standards trying to join GOED,” Ismail said.
It currently has about 10 members in China, making up 10% of its overall membership.
Conversation and interest
But the conversation is already there within China and the rest of the Asia Pacific region, he adds.
Ismail explained that there are many omega-3 initiatives being set up and these centres are indicators of the level of interest and discussion out there.
Last month saw the launch of the Omega-3 Academy Asia, an organisation comprising of a panel of medical professionals from across Asia with a common goal to increase understanding and education on the role and use of omega-3.
Ismail said that the main challenge of working with China will be identifying the right influencers and key opinion people.
GOED will be launching a consumer research initiative this year to unwrap what Asia really does know about Omega-3s.