DSM Integrated Annual Report 2022

Case Study

Harnessing algae for healthier people and planet with life’s®OMEGA

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The omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids DHA and EPA are an important part of the human diet. These nutritional lipids play a key role in supporting growth and development, as well as overall health and well-being throughout life. Extensive studies attest their benefits for, among other things, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, visual health and immune function.

DHA and EPA can only be accessed via the diet: neither humans nor any other animals can synthesize them in the body. They are therefore primarily sourced from cold-water fatty fish – such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines – which in turn derive them from the algae that they naturally consume. Simply put, cold-water fatty fish harvest DHA and EPA created by algae in their bodies. The world’s population reached 8 billion in 2022; two years previously, a study had estimated that less than 20% of the then 7.8 billion people on the planet were consuming the recommended 250 mg/day of these nutritional lipids. High volumes of omega-3s are therefore required to support the health of this rapidly growing global population. Meeting this need from wild-caught fish, however, would place unsustainable pressure on the oceans, whose fish stocks cannot replenish themselves fast enough to keep pace with demand.

Ocean ecosystems in danger

Our oceans are the largest ecosystem on Earth and perform essential ecological functions. They are responsible for generating approximately 50% of the oxygen in the atmosphere and are also the world’s largest store of carbon. They are vital to the existence of all species on the planet, and for human beings provide nutrition, medicines, minerals and renewable energy resources.

Among the highly beneficial nutrients provided by the oceans are omega-3 fatty acids. Traditionally, these are extracted from wild-caught fish to make fish oil. However, with the increase of the world’s population and challenges such as overfishing and bycatch, plastic pollution, climate change, and coastline overpopulation, ocean food chains are being disrupted, resulting in irreparable damage to vital marine ecosystems.

Obtaining naturally occurring nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids from marine resources will only increase the already unsustainable pressure on wild-caught fish stocks. Aquaculture as an alternative to open sea fishing does not solve this pressure as farmed fish also need to consume omega-3s, and this has traditionally been provided in the form fish oil derived from wild-caught cold-water fatty fish. There is an urgent need to find a sustainable solution to protect the world’s oceans while at the same time helping to keep the world’s population healthy through adequate provision of omega-3s.

Although the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have been extensively demonstrated, current consumption of these vital nutrients by humans lags behind recommended requirements. This shortfall can be attributed to a number of factors, including:

  • Lack of consumer awareness as to the health benefits of omega-3s
  • Growing awareness of the impact of omega-3 consumption on marine ecosystems
  • Lack of vegetarian or plant-based options to omega-3s sourced from fish
  • The off-putting fishy smell and taste traditionally associated with omega-3s sourced from fish

Our response at DSM has been to create life’s®OMEGA, an innovative form of omega-3 that addresses the needs of a new generation of health-conscious and environmentally-conscious consumers.

Sustainably cultivated omega-3 for a growing world

life’s®OMEGA are omega-3 fatty acids fermented from natural algae that are not produced by genetic modification. This is done by means of a controlled proprietary indoor process, with multiple production locations ensuring reliability of supply. life’s®OMEGA is a pure and potent form of EPA and DHA in a single source. Our proprietary process permits full quality control and traceability, with no organic pollutants and no allergens.

Our enhanced life’s®OMEGA portfolio provides an exciting innovation opportunity for brands that are looking to meet trending consumer health needs and create accessible products with purpose.

Do you know?

Omega-3s perform many roles in the human metabolism. Have they been shown to combat anxiety and depression too?

Stronger together with Chong Kun Dang HealthCare

Chong Kun Dang HealthCare (CKDHC) is Korea’s leading healthcare company and the country’s number 1 dietary supplement provider. CKDHC’s dietary supplement portfolio includes the leading omega-3 brand PROMEGA. In 2022, this portfolio was expanded by the launch of a new product, Algae rTG Omega-3 (‘rTG’ stands for re-esterified triglyceride, the most potent, absorbable and fast-acting form of omega-3) containing DSM’s life’s®OMEGA Ultra TG.

“Our partnership with DSM made possible the launch of our new algal-based omega-3 supplement, Algae rTG Omega-3. This world-first offering addresses the needs of sustainability-conscious consumers by protecting precious natural resources and supporting the development of sustainable ocean ecosystems.”
Hogon Kim

President Chong Kun Dang HealthCare

Our impact

With life’s®OMEGA, we demonstrate our strong commitment to protect the oceans and our responsibility to offer innovative solutions with the potential to benefit the health of billions without influencing marine life and our planet’s ecosystems. life’s®OMEGA fulfils the new generation of consumers’ requirements for essential nutrition and serves the global population’s growing need for plant-based alternatives to animal-source foods and nutrients.

How we support the SDGs

Our life’s®OMEGA portfolio supports the attainment of UN Sustainable Development Goals 3, 12 and 14.


3 – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

Offering all the clinically proven benefits of omega-3s, life’s®OMEGA addresses the needs of a new generation of consumers who are seeking ways to achieve holistic health and well-being without damaging the planet.


12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

life’s®OMEGA is fermented from natural, non-GMO algae by a proprietary indoor process, ensuring reliability of supply and full scalability of production to meet our customers’ needs. life’s®OMEGA has a lower carbon footprint that omega-3s sourced from fish oil, thus helping protect the environment.


14 – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

life’s®OMEGA is extracted from algae cultivated in indoor fermenters and therefore does not adversely impact marine resources. It relieves oceans of the pressure of overfishing and bycatch and is a sustainable solution that respects biodiversity and helps protect the oceans.

Docosahexaenoic Acid
Eicosapentaenoic Acid
United Nations
Re-esterified triglyceride