NutraIngredients Omega-3 Summit

NutraIngredients Omega-3 Summit: China surpasses Europe for the first time for share of market value

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Ellen Schutt, GOED's Executive Director, and Gary Scattergood, Editor-in-Chief of NutraIngredients-Asia discuss the latest omega-3 industry data during today's Omega-3 Summit.
Ellen Schutt, GOED's Executive Director, and Gary Scattergood, Editor-in-Chief of NutraIngredients-Asia discuss the latest omega-3 industry data during today's Omega-3 Summit.

Related tags omega-3 GOED Fish oil

China has surpassed Europe as the second largest country for omega-3 value share for the first time, only behind the US in 2017, according to the Global Organisation of EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED).

GOED’s Executive Director, Ellen Schutt, revealed the information during the second day (February 21) of the NutraIngredients Omega-3 Summit in Singapore.

The summit kicked off with a discussion that looks at the latest omega-3 industry data, spanning crude oil, ingredients, and finished products.

For the first time, China has surpassed Europe to become the second biggest market in terms of omega-3 value, Schutt said, citing its latest ingredient market report, which studied data gathered between year 2016 and 2017.

China enjoyed a value share of 19.9%, which was slightly more than Europe at 19.2%. The biggest value share came from the US at 30.5%.

In terms of growth rate, the value of the omega-3 market grew 6.4% in China. In contrast, that of Europe dropped 3.1%, due to a decline in the dietary supplement segment. 

As a whole, the total volume and value of the global omega-3 market grew by about 2% between year 2016 and 2017.

Out of the different types of products, the omega-3 was most widely used in dietary supplements – where global value share was 52.9%. This is followed by infant formula at 20.2% and pharmaceuticals at 15.4%.

Besides a booming China market, Schutt said that APAC also reflected “strong growth potential”,​ as market value of the omega-3 industry grew 9.9% during the time of the study. 

At present, GOED has about 200 member companies, ranging from fishing to dietary supplement companies.


Three key challenges surrounding the omega-3 industry were highlighted during the discussion, including negative media coverage, communications issues across different industry players, and a crowded market place.  

When reporting on scientific data, news headlines have more often than not, failed to offer the full scientific study findings, Schutt pointed out.

Such “sensational and negative news headlines”,​ she said, was “one of the largest issues” ​that the omega-3 industry faced. 

“Negative headlines that are often in the media, even if the study itself is neutral. It is very challenging to fight the science battle in the media, you cannot capture the complexities of a scientific study in a headline ran in a hundred characters,

“The reality of the situation is, there is so much science on omega-3, we are so lucky to be in an industry where (there are) 37,000 papers published on omega-3 research, and 4,000 clinical trials about EPA and DHA,”​ she said.

On the other hand, she acknowledged that GOED was always asked to comment on the sustainability of the omega-3 industry.

However, she observed that sustainability was “more of a communication issue”.

“The supplement fishery is one of the most well monitored industry… There are two fishing seasons where fishing is not allowed,”​ she explained.

The crux of the issue thus lies in the difficulty of collaborating different parts of the industry, she said.

Another challenge is a crowded marketplace and manufacturers have to come up with innovative ways to gain a competitive edge.

As for where the industry is heading in terms of product development, she noted that there was growing interest in the commercial development of algae products and also different types of dosage formats, such as liquid bursts – a gel capsule which contains liquid content.

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