In September, the FDA gave food companies the okay to plug foods that contain both DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids. Scientists say they reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and may even improve memory and mood. Soon, supermarket shelves will be rife with salad dressings, spreads, sauces, even baked goods with the new omega-3 labels.
Boon for health? Perhaps. Boon for business? Absolutely, if you happen to be Omega Protein, a company that turns low-on-the-food-chain fish into food additives rich in omega-3. In late fall, stock analysts gave the thumbs-up to the NYSE company, saying they expected the stock, trading at around $9, to reach $11 within 18 months. The only catch is that menhaden, the fish Omega Protein refines into its omega-3 products, recently attracted the watchful eye of Chesapeake Bay environmental groups. But for now, the fisheries commission says menhaden stocks are healthy. Even without the FDA ruling, the company’s third-quarter 2004 profits doubled to $1.8 million from $740,000 in 2003, and thanks to America’s obsession with health-conscious foods, it’s probably safe to say that the company will continue to reel in the profits. — Tracy Staton