Cognis Nutrition and Health, the leading health ingredients manufacturer, and Kemin Foods, which also makes speciality health ingredients, announced this week that they have reached an agreement in court involving the marketing and promotional issues for lutein and lutein esters products.
Specific terms of the agreement are to remain confidential between the two parties.
Cognis said in a statement that it was "delighted" with the final agreement. The company will retain the trademark for its Xangold natural lutein esters.
"This settlement agreement provides the framework for us to move forward in a positive manner," said Paul Allen, group vice president of Cognis Nutrition and Health. "What's important now more than ever is making sure our customers understand the compelling health benefits of Xangold and how it can complement their product lines."
Kemin Foods also seemed glad to have resolved the issue. "Kemin Foods filed suit against Cognis and has reached a settlement of that lawsuit. We're pleased the agreement clarifies how each company will market its products. Kemin Foods will continue to market its purified lutein as FloraGLO brand Lutein and Cognis will market its product as lutein esters," said the company in a statement.
Kemin Foods and Cognis first came head-to-head in 1999 when the first agreement was produced, prohibiting Cognis from representing its lutein ester product as, or containing, lutein - good news for Kemin, which markets its product as a purified form of natural lutein, and therefore claims it offers further benefits.
However Kemin filed a new lawsuit against Cognis at the end of last year contending that it was not holding its side of the agreement and was making false claims that blurred the differences between lutein esters and the purified form of lutein that Kemin claims only it manufactures.
Kemin also alleged that Cognis was not providing clear labelling guidelines to its vitamin customers as required by the 1999 court settlement between the two companies.
In January 2002, Cognis countersued Kemin for having made false and misleading claims about its lutein product and Cognis' Xangold natural lutein esters. The issues seem to have been resolved - for the moment.
Kemin manufactures FloraGLO lutein, claimed to be chemically identical to lutein found naturally in dark green, leafy vegetables. The Cognis product, Xangold natural lutein esters, is extracted from marigold flowers that are grown for Cognis. Cognis explains that the body digests lutein esters, converting them naturally to release free lutein, which is absorbed by the body.
Cognis Nutrition and Health is a business unit of Cognis Group, a specialty chemicals and nutritional ingredients company, owned by private equity funds. It recorded sales of €3.1 billion in 2001 and an operating profit of €174 million. The health unit provides antioxidant, botanical and nature-based ingredients for dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals and animal nutrition.
US-based Kemin Foods' FloraGLO lutein is used in more than 100 multivitamins and dietary supplements, and is increasingly seen as an important ingredient in eye health. FloraGLO is the only lutein that is GRAS for specific food and beverage applications, and the company has recently seen the launch of two functional beverages in the US which contain its lutein.