Published on 03/01/2018
Omega-3 SustainabilitySustainability matters to Nature’s Way for a lot of reasons. Fundamentally, our goal as a business is to harness the power of nature to help people get and stay healthy without undermining the welfare of the seas or marine life that inhabit them. The primary resource for our products is fish and to be able to provide the high-quality products Nature’s Way customers have come to know and trust, we need to ensure that the resources we use are going to be available for future generations. We also need to be positive that the various environments our fish come from stay hospitable to the animal-life living there to keep that ecosystem thriving.
What are NutraSea and NutraVege products made of?
Nature’s Way makes its omega-3 fish oil supplements from a variety of different fatty, cold water fish and squid. We use anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring and wild squid that we source from responsible fisheries. Our plant-based NutraVege products are made with algal oil, one of, if not the most sustainable sources of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA!
Abundant and Sustainable Resources
We’ve chosen to use anchovies, sardines, mackerel and herring for most of our fish oil because they’re small, abundant and very resilient species. These fish are caught off the coasts of Peru and Northern Chile in South America, the Eastern Central Atlantic, and Mediterranean Ocean and off the south-east Coast of Africa. Our suppliers ensure that the catch is under or at the maximum sustainable quota so we don’t add any more strain to the ecosystem. They also have several measures in place to ensure that our yield is well managed and responsibly caught.
In fact, along with prime fishing conditions these fisheries are also some of the world’s most regulated fisheries. They rank among the best in the world for sustainability of fisheries and marine ecosystems. We are pleased that these fisheries are Friend of the Sea certified which contributes to the health of the ocean by assessing and promoting sustainable fishing practices.
Key criterion that need to be met for Friend of the Sea certification include:
- Non-overexploitation of target stocks
- Selective fishing methods to ensure a) no by-catch of species including the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered species and b) no relevant impact on the seabed.
Additional criteria include – Compliance with legal requirements (such as mesh size and minimum size), energy balance and yearly fuel efficiency improvement, waste management and social accountability
The squid from which the oil used in our NutraSea DHA product are selected based on their fast growth and short life-cycles. They too are a very sustainable and environmentally sound source of omega-3, and we use the parts that are not used in calamari. This allows our suppliers to use what would likely otherwise discard, helping to reduce overall catch numbers.
Our plant-based NutraVege products use algal oil derived from algae growth tanks. Just like a plant, you can take some algae “seed” from one of the tanks and put them in another and when given the right growth conditions more will grow! What does this mean? It means that algae doesn’t need to be harvested from the ocean on a continuous basis, making this a very sustainable and potent resource of EPA and DHA.
Rigorous Sourcing Process
When we identify new sources of the high-quality ingredients we use in our products, we do so very carefully. Many popular sources of omega-3 like are in danger from over-fishing if sustainable fishing practices are not conducted. When we choose our ingredients, it is important to us that we do not contribute to or exacerbate any of these issues.
When we source suppliers, we conduct a stringent review of new partners to determine that their products are sourced in a way that does not harm the overall ecosystem.
Further, the most environmentally sound processes are used to catch the fish and squid that goes into our products, causing minimal impact on other species, reefs, or habitat.
Diversification of Resources
We’re always looking for sustainable ingredient sources, which is why we use a range of anchovy, sardines, mackerel, herring and wild squid as well as well as algae instead of using one single source from one single location.
By not relying on one single species exclusively and choosing fisheries that have been certified for their sustainable fishing practices, we can lessen our overall impact, helping to maintain and protect the important balance of our seas and oceans.
Beyond our commitment to sustainability from an ingredient point of view we annually help other organizations with similar sustainability missions to ours. We do so by being part of 1% for the Planet. Each year we donate 1% of all NutraSea and NutraVege sales (not profits!) to environmental organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation.