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Ilwha partners with RFI Ingredients to further develop signature ginseng extract

By Hank Schultz , 20-Feb-2013

Ilwha NA Inc., the American arm of the Korean ginseng supplier, has partnered with RFI Ingredients to commercialize its GS15-4 ingredient, the companies announced yesterday.

The partnership with RFI Ingredients, headquartered in Blaufeldt, NY and with production facilities in Colorado and California, will cover manufacturing, formulation and sales.   The ingredient already has a string of science and market successes behind it, said David C. Konn, president of Ilwha NA, which was formed last year.  The new parternership will take the ingredient to the next step for full North American market integration, he said.

“Ilwha as a company is a leader in ginseng science and has been a  leader for 40 years,” Konn told NutraIngredients-USA.  “There are a number of configurations of the ingredient we’d like to develop and that was the reason for the partnership.

“There are various powder forms of our ginseng extract we can create. We can create liquid forms for drops, either sublingually or drops in a liquid.  We could create a spray version,” he said.

Further development needed

GS15-4 has been under development for a number of years in South Korea, Konn said. The ingredient is produced via a proprietary enzyme fermentation process that the company says yields a balanced ginseng extract in its end-stage metabolite form.  Ilwha says it has human clinical studies that prove GS15-4 that it provides 15 times higher absorption, four times faster absorption and four times more consistent absorption that standard ginseng extracts.

The ingredient has garnered attention, winning an award at its last appearance at the Expo West trade show in Anaheim last March.  And in 2011 the ingredient was given a KFDA approval for a certified health claim that reads:  “helps to manage blood glucose.”  According to Ilhwam this is the first ginseng ingredient that has been given such approval.

But that hasn’t yet translated into much in the way of sales in the North American market, Konn said, which is one of the things the new partnership aims to address.

“We had done a small amount of sales.  No major brands have incorporated our ingredient yet. We actually felt (the partnership) was one of the key components.  A lot of companies wanted the powdered form,” Konn said.

“We will be sharing the brand development and working together.  RFI was good fit; they are a vertically integrated company. They do their own manufacturing and do their own distribution,” he said.

“GS15-4 is a great fit with our current product line, especially our energy, stress and fermented product platforms,” said Jeff Wuagneux, president and CEO of RFI.  “In addition, Ilhwa’s single passion for ginseng, its strong clinical science and its high quality manufacturing exemplify RFI’s From Field to Formul motto.”

Expansion underway

RFI has been expanding its capabilities in recent years. Late last year the company announced it would add encapsulation, powder filling and bottling capabilities to its Loveland, CO facility, which already had already has liquid extraction, fermentation, drying and blending capabilities in place. 

In addition to the 20,000-square-foot Loveland facility, the company has a 55,000-square-foot plant under construction in Broomfield in the northern Denver suburbs and it also recently purchased a manufacturing facility in California.

One of RFI’s differentiators is it’s new proprietary extraction equipment, dubbed Dynamic Dual Motion (DDM) Extraction.  According to the company, DDM is a counter-current extraction system that produces highly concentrated flavors, concentrates and botanical extracts.  The extraction process is designed to use minimal solvent, eliminating the need for further thermal concentration, which can degrade ingredients.

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