Enzymotec makes pact to take ingredients to Japan

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Japan

Enzymotec is set to take its proprietary heart and brain-health
ingredients into the Japanese market, thanks to a new marketing
collaboration with Itochu Chemical Frontier (ICF).

The Israeli firm has been stretching out into new markets with its Cardiabeat sterol esters and Sharp PS gold, a phospholipid (phosphatidylserine). In the last couple of years it has announced plans to extend its marketing into India, Australia, Sweden, South Korea and the US. It also achieved novel foods approval for Cardiabeat in Europe. But Japan represents the largest single country in terms of functional food and dietary supplements. According to Euromonitor, the Japanese functional foods market is worth some $8.4bn (905bn yen), and the functional drinks market $8.1bn (959bn yen). The functional foods market for the whole of Europe, by contrast, is valued at $7.41bn, with growth of 11 per cent anticipated by 2011. This means that global sales of Enzymotec's products could be given a significant boost. The partnership with ICF (a subsidiary of trading giant Itochu) will be formally launched at the Health Ingredients show in Japan next month, where new product prototypes will be aired. CEO Ariel Katz called it an "important milestone in [the company's] marketing strategy in Japan"."We expect that the sales of these products will commence during the first half of 2008,"​ he added. Part of the reason Japan is so advanced as a market in health products is it was the first place in the world to have government approved health claims. Thanks to regulation that fell into place in the early 1990s, FOSHU foods (foods of specified health uses) have been able to carve out a secure niche in the market. In Europe, on the other hand, the nutrition and health claims regulation only came into force this year, and has yet to be fully interpreted and enacted. Sharp PS gold and Cardiabeat have recently been approved for use in food by the Japanese Health Authority, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. It is not known whether they will have full FOSHU status, however. Moreover, the market presents opportunities for overseas countries since the Japanese consumer is especially keen to try out new products. However earlier this year Euromonitor's Christiana Benkouider told NutraIngredients.com that this also has its down side. "Japanese consumers always want new products and get bored quickly,"​ she said. "Products have a short lifecycle, and there is always a new craze."

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