The German ingredient giant also raised the price of its natural-source plant sterols with the price hikes effective from June for all North American customers. "The rapid escalation in raw material costs plus the steady increase in energy, transportation and packaging costs have reached a point that we can no longer maintain current prices," said Dave Eckert, vice president of Cognis Nutrition and Health's North American division. The new pricing arrangement applies to Covitol natural-source vitamin E, Covi-ox natural mixed tocopherols and Cognis' non-GM, IP-certified forms of these two product groups. Its Vegapure plant sterols and sterol esters are also affected. The company would not reveal the extent of the increases but Eckert told NutraIngredients.com Cognis had held off joining the band of major multinational suppliers that have increased prices in the past couple of years as long as possible. CP Kelco, FMC Biopolymer, BASF, Novozymes, ADM, Cargill and Danisco are just a few of the companies that have raised prices for ingredients ranging from letter vitamins to sugar molasses and citric acid. "All products are being impacted by the rise in oil and gas products and that has fed through to all areas of business," he said. "This is something that has affected the whole industry, many industries really, and so we know that customers have been dealing with these kinds of increases for some time as they have become a regular occurrence across the industry." Cognis was "keeping an eye on cost drivers" for all its ingredient offerings but no other price rises were planned. Pricing in its divisions outside North America, including its European headquarters, remained unaffected. Markets He said the vitamin E supplements market, which had been suffered dwindling sales since 2005 following the publication of a meta-analysis that suggested antioxidants were ineffective, had recovered to the point where it was robust enough to accommodate the price increase. "The natural source vitamin E market is growing now - in multivitamins and single doses as well as functional foods like powdered drinks," he said. "In line with the natural trend, consumers and businesses are looking for natural source vitamin E and they know it has better bioavailability than synthetic vitamin E." Most research indicates natural source vitamin E is at least two times more bioavailable than synthetic vitamin E. Dutch-based DSM raised the price of its vitamin E offerings in November citing a similar set of reasons, but emphasizing the rising costs of petroleum which is used in the manufacture of synthetic vitamin E.