CoQ10 made in America

13 November 2006 00:00  [Source: ICB Americas]

AFTER YEARS of being a major consumer, the US is finally producing coenzyme Q10.

Kaneka recently opened its 100 tonne/year CoQ10 manufacturing facility in Pasadena, Tex., marking the first CoQ10 plant built outside Asia-Pacific.

Kaneka says the investment will place the company closer to its US customers and will support development of new applications in markets such as functional foods and beverages.

"The US is the CoQ10 capital of the world so a majority of the global demand is generated here," says Tom Schrier, national sales manager, Kaneka Nutrients. "Current North American demand for CoQ10 is around 180 tonnes compared to last year's 140 tonnes. We expect to see similar growth patterns over the next few years."

The majority of the CoQ10 consumed in the US is in dietary supplements, notes Schrier. Small amounts are also being used in cosmetics.

"We hope to expand into functional foods, beverages, confectioneries and oral care as well as pet food. In Japan, CoQ10 is already in thousands of consumer products - from gum and wellness colas to drinkable jelly and chocolates," Schrier adds.

CoQ10 is said to have antioxidant properties similar to vitamin E. Naturally found in the body's cell membranes, CoQ10 is also considered a vital nutrient in the production of energy.

Kaneka is reportedly the only producer of fermented yeast-based CoQ10. Other CoQ10s are fermented from bacteria or are synthesized from tobacco.

Supply going up

Unlike last year, global supply of CoQ10 is now outpacing current demand, driven by various expansions and new capacities, mostly from Asia.

Aside from the Texas plant, Kaneka also boosted its Japanese capacity late last year from 150 to 180 tonnes/year. Mitsubishi Gas Chemical is building a 40-70 tonne/year CoQ10 plant in Niigata, Japan, which is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

Other recent Japanese investments include Nisshin Pharma's newly opened CoQ10 production line in Ueda, while Kyowa Hakko resumed in September its in-house CoQ10 production in Hofu. Kyowa says it also relaunched its CoQ10 sales to the US nutraceutical market.

Outside Japan, Zhejiang Medicine Co. (ZMC), said to be China's largest CoQ10 producer, intends to double its capacity to 120 tonnes by 2007. ZMC distributes its CoQ10 to the US through its joint venture company ZMC-Kougen USA.

PharmaEssentia of Taiwan started its new, multitonne CoQ10 capacity early last year and hooked Utah-based Frontier Scientific to distribute its products in the US and Europe.

Another Chinese producer, Hangzhou Zhongmeihuadong Pharmaceutical, recently picked California-based Compound Solutions to distribute its CoQ10 to North America and Europe.

CoQ10 prices have become more economical due to the supply surge, says Schrier. "This allows for additional CoQ10 applications to be explored."

The US accounts for 75-80% of the current global consumption. The CoQ10 market worldwide is reportedly valued at $300m and is projected to reach $1bn by 2009.

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