Cargill and BASF Plant Science announced an agreement to co-develop a new dietary source of EPA/DHA that will make it easier for consumers globally to achieve optimal intakes of EPA- and DHA-rich omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. This next generation canola oil containing EPA/DHA will enable food, pharmaceutical and nutritional supplement manufacturers to deliver the potential health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in a wide variety of new, cost-effective consumer products available by the end of the decade.

Although research is ongoing, a growing body of scientific evidence links dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids with benefits for heart and brain health. However, humans on average are currently not consuming enough of these healthy fatty acids. In fact, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) EPA/DHA consumption in the United States is less than 185 mg per day. Health experts in various countries recommend intake of 250-500 mg per day for positive health benefits from EPA/DHA.

Growing consumer awareness of the health benefits of omega-3 is fueling double-digit growth for omega-3 products. According to a recent report by Prepared Foods, the global market for foods, beverages and supplements incorporating omega-3s was worth nearly $7.5 billion in 2010, and is predicted to grow 15-20 percent annually through 2015.

Cargill and BASF Plant Science’s multi-year development and commercialization agreement reflects the complementary competencies that both companies bring to the partnership in the EPA/DHA canola field. Specifically, Cargill’s food applications capabilities and existing commercial relationships with major food manufacturers and food service operators globally, and BASF Plant Science’s expertise in genetically enhancing EPA/DHA levels in canola seed oil and deregulating it for use in food products. BASF Plant Science foresees a total investment of more than 150 million euros ($208 million U.S.).

The products generated through the Cargill/BASF Plant Science collaboration will address two key issues facing companies seeking to broadly deliver omega-3s to global consumers: shelf stability and cost.

"This partnership supports Cargill’s objective of providing the healthiest oils to our customers and consumers globally,” said Jenny Verner, president, Cargill Specialty Canola Oils. “By addressing stability and cost, we are confident that EPA/DHA canola oil will be embraced by food, pharmaceutical and nutritional supplement manufacturers globally.” Verner added that this project builds on Cargill’s existing product portfolio and will further extend its ability to help customers deliver the benefits of omega-3s in food products.

"Both BASF Plant Science and Cargill believe that the market for omega-3s is very attractive long-term and that this co-development and commercialization partnership will create value for our customers and both companies,” said Marc Ehrhardt, senior vice president, BASF Plant Science. “The combination of BASF’s innovative technology and Cargill’s leading position in the global supply chain for canola oil will make EPA/DHA canola oil-based products broadly accessible to consumers globally.”