MINNEAPOLIS and LIMBURGERHOFF, GERMANY — Cargill and BASF Plant Science plan to co-develop new canola oil that will feature two types of omega-3 fatty acids that have a Food and Drug Administration qualified health claim but currently are found in fish oil and not plants. The canola oil will contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and will enable food, pharmaceutical and nutritional supplement manufacturers to deliver the potential health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in a variety of consumer products by the end of the decade, according to the two companies.
The multi-year development and commercialization agreement will involve Cargill’s capabilities and commercial relationships with food manufacturers and food service operators globally as well as 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 ($208 million).
Cargill already offers omega-3 fatty acids in its Clear Valley brand omega-3 oil and shortening, but it is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) from flaxseed and not EPA and DHA. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004 awarded a qualified health claim for reduced risk of coronary heart disease on conventional foods that contain EPA and DHA.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the average EPA/DHA consumption in the United States is less than 185 mg per day. Health experts from various countries recommend 250 mg to 500 mg per day for positive health benefits.
“By addressing stability and cost, we are confident that EPA/DHA canola oil will be embraced by food, pharmaceutical and nutritional supplement manufacturers globally,” said Jenny Verner, president of Cargill Specialty Canola Oils.
Marc Ehrhardt, senior vice-president of BASF Plant Science, said, “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. 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.”