Growing recognition of the health benefits of Omega 3, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, to brain and nerve function is spurring initiatives investigating ways to increase its presence in red meat.

In Wales, nine sheep farmers are involved in a Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales) project evaluating a series of rations to see which is best at boosting Omega 3 levels.

The farmers hope to develop a niche market for lamb with boosted Omega 3.

Pig genetics company JSR has already succeeded in developing a feed high in Omega 3 for pigs.

When fed to fattening pigs, it led to a near quadrupling of Omega 3 levels in pork cuts.

The level of Omega 3 rose from an average 13mg/100g to 50mg/100g.

But JSR is struggling to persuade retailers to pay the added cost of feeding the ration, said Grant Walling, JSR’s research director.

“We’re making better progress in Canada, but the high level of competition in the UK grocery market meant retailers were immediately turned off when we explained it added to the cost of production.”

Depending on the efficiency of the enterprise, JSR estimates the added of cost of production to be between 3.5p/kg and 5.5p/kg.