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New vegetarian glucosamine hits EU, US

By Lorraine Heller , 22-Jan-2008

China-based Hygieia Health has launched a new vegetarian glucosamine, marketing it as a "pure", "stable", "safe" form of the popular joint health ingredient.

The company said its GlucosaGreen marks the first time it is entering the ingredient market, as it has so far been focusing on supplying finished dose material. According to Hygieia's marketing manager David Corcoran, joint health has been a major area of focus for the company since it was formed in 2005. The firm developed its own glucosamine ingredient in response to interest from customers, who were looking to differentiate their brands. Glucosamine has been found to rebuild cartilage, and is therefore considered one of the major joint health ingredients. It is often used in conjunction with chondroitin, which gives cartilage elasticity. However, as most glucosamine is derived from shell-fish, it is not suitable for use by vegetarians, people who are allergic to shell fish, and those who adhere to a Kosher diet. In an effort to meet this gap in the market, a number of vegetarian sources of glucosamine have started appearing on the market, including Cargill's Regenasure, derived from the fungus Aspergillus niger, and Cyanotech's JointAstin. Hygieia told NutraIngredients-USA.com that a major benefit of its GlucosaGreen product is its guaranteed purity, which means it does not contain the residual impurities that can be found in alternative sources. This allows dietary supplement manufacturers to use the ingredient in tablets without the need for coating - which is often used to obtain an aesthetically pleasing white-looking tablet. However, GlucosaGreen is a naturally white crystalline product, and can therefore save manufacturers the cost and the extra production step necessary for coating, said Corcoran. The GlucosaGreen line includes three different glucosamine salts: d-glucosamine HCl; d-glucosamine sulfate 2KCl; and d-glucosamine sulfate 2NaCl. These provide manufacturers with a wider variety of choice to find an ingredient specifically suited to their application, Corcoran explained. The ingredients are Halal and Kosher certified, and are produced using a patent-pending technology, said Hygieia. The company, which is based in China but conducts all of its sales outside of the country, said its whole manufacturing process and quality assurance program have been modeled on ICH guidelines - a standard of reference used by the pharmaceutical industry. Its manufacturing facility, which was completed at the end of 2007, is self-certified CGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practice). "It's all about traceability, purity, safety and the toxicological profile of a product, ensuring the ability to produce the same product to the same quality batch after batch," said Corcoran. The company said the recent safety fears linked to ingredients derived from China do not affect its business. "Most of the world's glucosamine is manufactured in China anyway. What we're doing is supplying a safer and purer glucosamine coming from the same geographical location." Additionally, because the ingredient is derived from a vegetal source, the company said it is not subject to the type of unstable supply situations seen with material is derived from the shells of shrimp or crab - which have resulted in price fluctuations in the past. In late 2004 the world market for the joint health ingredient was impacted as supplies of the raw material chitin, 90 per cent of which comes from China, were previously the subject of a bidding war due to shrimp shortages. This was compounded by the introduction of US anti-dumping duties, and prices rose from around $5 per kilo in February 2004 to $20 in December of the same year. Hygieia would not reveal the source of its ingredient, nor its price range. However, it claimed GlucoaGreen is "cheaper than all the alternate vegetarian glucosamines on the market at present," including competitive Chinese production. Corcoran said GlucosaGreen is available immediately for customers in Europe and the US. The company is currently looking for marketing partners to promote the ingredient in these market, but said in the meantime customers can purchase it directly from them. In Europe the firm will promote its ingredient exclusively for use in dietary supplements. In the US, where glucosamine has GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status for use in foods and beverages, Hygieia will also be targeting beverage manufacturers.

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