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Consumer Sentiments - Food Makeup (Part 1)

Consumers have become increasingly concerned with the origins and production of their food. 92% of US consumers report that it is somewhat or very important to know where their food is coming from. In addition, when it comes to meat consumers are demanding 'clean' meat, and there is a trend to choose grass-fed beef which is particularly high in omega-3.


— Consumer Sentiments on Meat Production

It is becoming increasingly important to consumers to know more about the origins of their food. In fact, 92% of US consumers reported that it is somewhat or very important to know where their food is coming from. A recent survey also found that "nearly all respondents (94 percent) said that it is important to them that the brands and manufacturers they purchase products from are transparent about what is in their food and how it is made."

US consumers are becoming less trusting of the food industry when it comes to meat, with only 33% saying that they are confident in the safety of the food they eat, which have massively reduced from 47% in 2017. This distrust and increased awareness is propelling consumer demand for more information.

There are current trends for consumers to seek out 'clean' meat, with meat being labeled as natural, antibiotic-free and hormone-free showing rapid growth over that of conventional meat. Growth of each product is as follows:

Conventional meat - 4.6%
Natural - 14.6%
Antibiotic-free - 28.7%
Hormone-free - 28.6%
Organic - 44%

This shows that in general, consumers are caring more and more about how their meat is produced, and they are increasingly making choices to buy products that are 'healthier'. In addition, it shows that consumers are concerned with what their meat is fed, they particularly do not want to eat meat that has been fed antibiotics or hormones.

— Consumer Sentiments Specific to Meat fed With Omega-3 Feeds

We know that there is a strong demand from consumers for omega-3 in general, given that the global omega-3 market is expected to reach $3.01 billion by 2022. Recently there have been reports linking omega-3 enriched meat to consumer health benefits, linked with lower risks of heart and brain disease. In general, consumers view omega-3 has healthy, and seek to include it in their diet. In fact, studies show that 70% of shoppers view omega-3 fatty acids as healthy.

When it comes to meat, much of the omega-3 conversation has been related to what the cattle are fed on. In particular, research has proven that grass-fed cattle contain a higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids.

Health experts have long recommended consuming oily fish in order to reap the benefits of consuming omega 3, such as "reduced incidence of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer and improved brain health, vision, muscle and joint health". Now, people have another option instead of oily fish, they are turning to grass-fed beef. Given that there is a trend for consumers to seek out meats that they view as healthier, we can infer that due to the fact that they see omega-3 as healthy that this may motivate them to buy meat fed with omega-3.

In addition, we are seeing statistical evidence to prove that the demand for grass-fed beef (omega-3 fed) is increasing. Research by Mintel has found that 79% of people who eat burgers think of grass-fed beef is higher quality than regular beef. This has lead to 43% of burger eaters claiming that they want more grass-fed burgers on restaurant menus.

In addition, further research has shown that demand for grass-fed beef is growing at an annual rate of 25-30%, as demand for traditional beef declines. In 2016 sales of labeled fresh grass-fed beef generated $272 million in annual revenue. This was a huge increase on the $17 million in revenue generated in 2012.

Finally, I found that while the grass-fed trend is growing, there is still much room for expansion. Currently, only 19% of consumers report only having a general idea of what grass-fed means.


To sum up, I have found that knowing how food is made and where it comes from has become increasingly important to consumers, so that now almost all would agree that they want this information. Consumers are staying away from products that they see as unhealthy, and when it comes to meat they are increasingly choosing products that are natural, antibiotic-free, hormone-free and organic. Finally, I have found that grass-fed beef is now a trend, as research recently found it to be high in omega-3. Demand for grass-fed beef has been growing rapidly at an annual rate of 25-30%.
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Algae Omega 3 - Drivers and Demand

The global algae omega-3 ingredient market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.8% from 2017 to 2022. Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing market when it comes to the production of algae omega-3 ingredients. Increased consumption of omega 3 supplements globally, and particularly in the US, is driving the growth. Ten years ago, the biotechnological application of using the bacterial polyketide synthase mode of producing EPA and DHA was developed. Today, the capacity to produce omega-3 LCPUFA has been expanded to higher plants, in which omega-3 LCPUFA, such a stearidonic acid, and DHA, can be produced. Top drivers of algae omega 3 are increased trend and demand towards infant food fortification and formulas, fortified food and beverages in Asia-Pacific, Europe and US, and awareness of its purity and health benefits through numerous studies triggering the application in pharmaceutical products and recognition among pet owners.

PRODUCTION and demand of algae Omega 3

The global algae omega-3 ingredient market is currently projected to grow at a CAGR of 11.8% during the forecast period from 2017 to 2022. The biggest market when it comes to the production of omega-3 ingredients is the Asia-Pacific. Overall, the omega-3 market consists mainly of fish oil omega-3, but algae omega-3 has been the second largest source and is taking over a larger share of the market in the recent years. Currently, dietary supplements are the main products which demand production of algae omega-3, followed by infant formula application. In Europe, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and Spain are the biggest markets for the algal-based EPA ingredients.

Currently, in order to replace fish oil, which is produced in 1 million tons a year, by algal products would require a production of 2.5-3.5 million tons of algae per year. The increasing demand for algae omega-3 has led to researchers publishing more than 14,000 studies in the last decade.

The key developments in the algae omega-3 market when it comes to production and demand are listed below.
-In 2012, DSM’s DHA and EPA-rich algal oil was authorized for use under the European Novel Food Regulation. This oil is currently sold as Life’s OmegaTM.
-In 2014, Qualitas launched the first commercial algae-based omega-3 product.
-In 2015, algae omega-3 has been implemented in the production of infant formula.
-In 2017, DSM acquired Martek Bioscience, "an algae omega-3 ingredient leader" in order for DSM to become "the global leader". In the same year, Nordic Naturals launched five children products derived from algae omega-3. At the same time, Evonik announced that for the first time they started production of omega-3 fatty acids for animal nutrition without using any fish oil, and are now using only algae omega-3.
-When it comes to academic research, University of Queensland announced in 2017 that their researchers started growing "their highest density algae at a pilot farm in Brisbane to see the large-scale operations within a sustainable farm".
-Also in 2017, Qualitas Health, which is a US-based algae-based health and nutrition company, stated they are partnering with their commercial crop producer Green Stream Farms in order to triple their algae production for algae omega-3 ingredients.
-Earlier this year, Startup Triton Algae announced they are starting a business using only vegan algae powder for their products.
In the technology industry, a firm called 42 Technology started developing "pilot-scale bio manufacturing equipment that could significantly reduce the costs of commercial-scale production of high-grade omega-3 oils from micro algae".

The major players in the algae omega-3 market are DSM, Bioprocess Algae, Algaecides, Algisys, and Terravia. All of these companies are faced with one big restraining factor, and that is the high-cost of the product which can be traced back to higher downstream processing costs. Today, in most of the European countries, health organizations state that the intake of EPA/DHA is "not up to the level of the recommended daily intake". The main reason why the omega-3 market is still dominated by fish oil is because the costs of production and downstream processing remain high. However, when compared with the beginnings of algae omega-3 production, technological advancement led to price of the production to decrease and more companies involved in the production. Today, the algae omega-3 market is considered highly competitive.

The use of algae omega-3 ingredient is still low when it comes to pharmaceutical application, but its value in this area has been increasing because of the increase in awareness when it comes to health benefits of EPA.

The increase in demand for fortified food and beverage products in Asia-Pacific led to algae omega-3 being used in different supplement and dietary products, driving market growth.

The use of algae omega-3 ingredient is the largest when it comes to dietary supplements where it accounts for 53.5% of the total market. However, another big market that is opening up is animal nutrition is where there is large demand for algae omega-3 ingredients, mainly because of increased health concern among pet owners.


The global algae omega-3 ingredient market growth is driven by the increase in consumption of omega-3 supplements. This increase can be traced mainly to the US and developing countries, such as China. The main increase can also be linked to infant formula products in developing countries: "The algae omega-3 demand is growing at a faster rate in the infant food fortification as it provides the same benefit as that of the fish oil but with no bad odor or taste". When it comes to the merits, the reason why algae omega-3 is superior to fish oil is because it contains no toxic pollutants. It is also of higher purity regarding the "form of fatty acid, and off-sensory properties".

Two types of essential omega-3 fatty acids can be extracted from algae: Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). DHA currently has the largest share in the market, mainly because of the high demand in infant formula products and its legal recommendations. On the other hand, EPA is the fastest-growing market because of the proven various health benefits, "which has increased its importance in drug formulation".

Scientific studies show that algae omega-3 help protect the cardiovascular system as well as help the body fight against cancer, birth defects, diabetes, arthritis, cognitive decline, and depression. DHA has been proven to increase the overall level of health in people. It also helps support a healthy pregnancy, length of gestation, visual development and function. It also reduces risk of dementia, risk of Alzheimer's disease, and improves memory.

Using algae in production of omega-3 leads to a significant reduction of risk of accidental human exposure to heavy metals, which is a big issue for fish oil-derived supplements. On top of that, algae omega-3 allows manufacturers to "vary the EPA:DHA omega-3 oil ratios for utilization in different formulations".


The main merits of algae omega-3 are health benefits such as the reduction in risk when it comes to cancer, diabetes, arthritis, cognitive decline, and depression. Algae omega-3 is also proven to be better than fish oil omega-3 because it reduces the risk of accidental human exposure to heavy metals.
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Consumer Sentiments - Food Makeup (Part 2)

Consumer perception trends, overall, towards an idea that natural foods are healthier. This can be seen in the negative perceptions on genetically modified and genetically engineered livestock, as well as the favorable opinions on natural and organic foods. However, in most cases, health does not end up being the biggest factor in choosing which food to buy, with consumers instead being motivated by price, naturalness, and convenience.

Genetically Modified Livestock

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) as organisms "in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination". This applies to livestock as well as crops; however, a survey by Health Canada found that although 61% of respondents had "negative impressions of genetic modification", these impressions were generally associated with crops above things like animals and fish. Nonetheless, the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance believes that both Canadian and international countries are "not really interested" in genetically modified livestock.

In the United States, consumer reactions can be traced through the political movements surrounding the issue. In November 2015, genetically modified salmon became the first genetically modified animal to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA). By July of the next year, more than 70 bills had been introduced in over thirty different states “in favor of mandatory GM labeling or in support of prohibiting genetically modified foods completely”. The FDA watches genetically engineered (GE) animal production carefully and promises that “none enter the food supply without FDA approval”, which in turn angered the companies involved in the production of these animals. Animals should be judged by inherent risk, argue these companies, rather than where they come from. Until recent moves to push back against current laws by the Trump administration, however, federal regulation had held firm, while 71% of survey respondents indicated that they avoided genetically modified livestock for health reasons.

Natural and Known Ingredients

In September 2017, a review of 72 studies from 32 different countries found that, "independent of the country and the year of the study, naturalness was considerably important for consumers." When the results of the various studies were standardized to a scale of 1 to 10, with a 10 indicating the highest importance places on natural ingredients, the majority of the values ranged from 7 to 8. For one particular set of surveys using similar reporting scales, 27 out of the 38 reported average responses of 7 or above. This suggests a high value placed on natural ingredients across many countries.

Knowing the ingredients of their food is also important to consumers. A survey commissioned by Trace One found that "68 percent of consumers in the US said they are not provided with enough information about what is in their food and where it comes from." A full 92% of survey respondents felt that "it is somewhat or very important to know where their food is coming from."

USDA Approved Products

In order to be labeled as a USDA certified organic food, the food must have been "grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives." Meat, in particular, must come from animals "raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones." A group of over 1300 college students was surveyed in 2017 for their opinions on organic food versus conventional. When asked to rate several topics on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 indicating 'strongly agree', organic food scored higher on average than conventional in almost all criteria, including "safer to eat" and "more nutritious". The only categories in which organic food scored lower than conventional were those of "have a longer shelf life" and "more affordable".

In the United States, organic food sales more than doubled between 1994 and 2014, with 40% of Americans reporting that they eat either some or mostly organic food. A survey conducted in 2016 by the Pew Research Center indicated that 55% of adults in the United States believed organic produce to be healthier than their conventionally grown counterparts, though 59% of U.S. adults thought that the two tasted "about the same". Indeed, the majority of those consumers seem to be focused on health. Of those who had bought organic foods within the past month, 76% gave "looking for healthier foods" as their motivation.

Weight Implications

Although results of a 2017 study support the hypothesis that young consumers with worse perceptions regarding eating healthy do tend to show more weight problems, weight implications does not appear to be a major factor for consumers when choosing their foods. Findings from a food and health survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) foundation suggest that, although the four greatest factors that go into choosing food are "taste, price, healthfulness, and convenience", the same as they have been in the past, healthfulness is the lowest in priority.


Consumer sentiments on natural versus modified foods leans heavily in favor of the natural. While genetically modified organisms are perceived by many consumers as a potential danger, natural and organic foods tend to be looked at more favorably than their conventionally grown counterparts. In the end, however, the healthiness of the product doesn't tend to be the consumer's main motivator.

From Part 02