Rentura receives a capital boost

Related tags Retailing

The venture capital firm Bluestem announced last week that it has
made a "sizeable" investment in Renutra, the manufacturer of
the supplement Hydra Joint.

South Dakota based Rentura said successful sales of its natural health supplements including Hydra-Joint - a leading liquid glucosamine/chondroitin supplement - had encouraged Bluestem to make its investment.

"We now have products in approximately 30,000 retail stores across the country,"​ said Jim Engels, president of Renutra​. "The investment from Bluestem is a welcome endorsement of our company and brings the capital we need in order to continue to expand."

The founding partner of Bluestem​ Steve Kirby added that the company's potential for future growth was the deciding factor, noting that Rentura fitted the profile of being a: "local company with a strong management team that make quality products in an expanding industry."

In addition to Hydra Joint, the company also produces Clockworks, a natural fiber product that is said to improve digestive health. Renutra distributes its products through its website and retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, Walgreens and Long's Drugs.

Joint health offers huge potential for the supplement industry for two reasons. First, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis and other rheumatic conditions are among the most common chronic diseases, affecting 70 million adults in the US in 2001, and are the leading cause of disability among US adults.

Research by the CDC has shown that if arthritis prevalence rates remain stable, the number of affected persons aged 65 and under will nearly double by 2030, meaning that as many as 41 million people in this age group could be afflicted by arthritis or chronic joint symptoms (CJS).

Second, the withdrawal of Vioxx, Merck's arthritis and pain-reliever drug, at the end of September, after a study found that patients were twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke when taking the medication - worth $2.5 billion in sales in the US alone during 2003 - than when on placebo.

The removal of such a high-profile drug has raised questions about similar products available to arthritis sufferers and offered an opportunity for manufacturers of natural joint care products to draw attention to their wares.

Chondroitin already rakes in up to $1 billion in retail sales in the US, with Europe estimated to generate around $400-600 million. And with price pressure on raw materials - bovine and other animal cartilage - the ingredient is becoming more expensive. It currently ranges from around $65 per kg to $150 for the higher quality material. But the ingredient continues to grow at around 5-7 percent, with new food applications likely to sustain this momentum.

Glucosamine, meanwhile, is already seeing growth of around 10 percent annually.

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