Fish oil prices squeeze omega-3 manufacturers

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
22 November 2006, at 12:00am

US - Omega-3 fish oil manufacturers have been feeling the crunch as their crude oil suppliers have upped prices by about 15 percent in the past year, which could in turn spike prices for formulators as well.

The market for omega-3 fatty acids has boomed in recent years, riding on a wave of studies pointing to the cognitive and heart health benefits of the lipid ingredient. Fish oil is lauded for its high concentration of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. However vegetarian alternatives, such DHA derived from marine algae, are playing an increasing role in the market.

The main reason manufacturers cite for the rise in crude fish oil prices is a decline in fish oil production, increased fish farming and a rise in fuel prices.

Despite the interest in the healthy ingredient, only 10 percent of fish oil produced is actually destined for the human consumption in the omega-3 market. The majority – 90 percent – goes into fishmeal, manufacturers told

Globally, aquaculture continues to grow, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Between 1990 and 2000, production grew at an annual average of 10.5 percent, but between 2000 and 2004 it grew at a slower rate of 6.8 percent.