The subsidiary of US health care innovator Zila Inc already had an agreement in place with Gee Lawson covering the UK, but Douglas Burkett, chairman, CEO and president of Zila, said the new deal "represents another step in the progress we are making in the execution of Zila Nutraceutical's aggressive international growth plan".
Last December the company increased its coverage of Scandinavian markets, where Ester-C previously some distribution in place in Moss, Norway, through Naturkost, and in Norway and Finland through Cederroth. The existing deal with Cederroth was expanded to include Sweden, and a new agreement was signed with another Swedish firm, Bringwell.
In November it announced an agreement with Asahi Godo to distribute Ester-C in Japan - a market described by chief financial officer Andrew Stevens as the region's "the 800lb gorilla", and which could potentially prove the key to other countries in the Pacific Rim.
Ester-C is produced by mixing ascorbic acid and calcium carbonate to create a pH neutral form of vitamin C, which helps prevent the stomach disruption that can occur when consumers take large doses of the vitamin in its natural form to help ward off colds.
Since the vitamin C is modified from its natural state the company has had to submit a dossier to the European Union in accordance with the 2002 Food Supplements Directive, which came into effect in August 2002.
Manager of international operations Steve Hanson told NutraIngredients.com recently that Zila has been granted derogation to continue selling the ingredient in certain European markets until December 31, 2009. The EU is expected to review the dossier prior to that date and make a formal decision.
In the meantime a number of countries have responded positively to the dossier, including Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK.
Hanson also said that the company has come up with a plan to commit more marketing dollars to certain markets, which had not previously been part of a promotional push. In particular, it is stepping up both its consumer and trade marketing in the UK.
Zila Nutraceuticals has developed and patented a new form of Ester-C said to offer improved antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic potential, which should allow it to maintain its advantage in the vitamin C market until the end of next decade.
Zila has also been preparing for the long-term future of Ester-C in the market, by developing and patenting a new form of Ester-C said to offer improved antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic potential.
Zila is nearing the point where the new version will be ready for commercial distribution - although a firm release date has yet to be given. Once introduced, it should allow it to maintain its advantage in the vitamin C market until the end of next decade.
Some of the core intellectual property behind Ester-C was set to expire soon, opening up the market to competitors.