Omega-3 and chocolate: Start-up believes Asia and Middle East's fish oil future is in functional foods

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The company attended Gulfood in Dubai, its first trade show.
The company attended Gulfood in Dubai, its first trade show.

Related tags Functional foods Omega-3 fatty acid Eicosapentaenoic acid Snack

The market for functional foods containing omega-3 is ripe for innovation in Asia and the Middle East, with one start-up claiming it can provide 250mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in 30g of chocolate.

InOmega3 is spearheaded by Lone Honore, who has 20 years’ experience with some of Scandinavia’s biggest omega-3 firms.

However, in 2012 she established the company believing that functional foods, and not nutritional oils and supplements, offered the best way of improving consumers’ omega-3 intakes. 

Lone Honore

Speaking to us at Gulfood in Dubai, the firm’s first trade exhibition, she predicted the first products to contain the company’s O3PO ingredient – derived from cod liver oil - would be on the shelves later this year.

She was remaining tight lipped on what category the products would be in and in which region, although she claimed Asia and the Middle East were offering “huge potential”.

She added the micro-encapsulted ingredient, which was shortlisted for a Gulfood Innovation Award, had a shelf-life of 12 months and was suitable for dairy, bakery and chocolate categories.

“All of our supplies are sourced in Scandenavia and the product is manufactured in Denmark,” ​she told us.

“It can be used for cheese spreads, yoghurt, flavoured milk drinks, ice cream and some versions of butter.”

Fish versus plant

She added it was easy to add to instant dough or pre-dough productions for bakery goods, while combining it with dark chocolate could make a compelling heart health product.

“A 30g bar will provide 250mg of EPA and DHA,”​ she said.

While many omega-3 fortified products come from plant-based sources, Honore insisted that the weight of evidence behind long-chain fatty acids was helping to convince potential customers the benefits of the fish oil-based ingredient.

“The ingredient is all-natural, fully sustainable and requires no sensory masking,” ​she added. “We have full proof of concepts and are now starting to receiving some significant interest.

At present, the firm employs five people but expects this to increase to 20-30 by 2020.

Honore said she believed functional foods and not supplements were best placed to meet consumers’ growing demands for natural, healthy products, while also overcoming issues such as the potential oxidation of supplements.

“All competition is good, but the research shows the absorption of omega-3 is best when taken with food. We think we can educate customers and consumers that there is huge potential for omega-3 functional foods.”

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