Japanese investments to further Thorne's testing, functional beverage developments

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

Japanese investments to further Thorne's testing, functional beverage developments
The recent investment from Kirin and Mitsui group will enable Thorne Research to complete its transformation from a practitioner channel supplements specialist into a more multifaceted wellness company, said an executive.

Paul Jacobsen, CEO of Thorne, has overseen the company for more than eight years. In that time he has expanded the company’s scope with a series of deals that have extended its capabilities beyond dietary supplement product formulation and marketing.

One was in the area of personalized nutrition. In 2013 Thorne, through its subsidiary Health Elements, acquired Wellness FX, a San-Francisco based company that helps customers manage their personal health data via a series of ‘dashboards.’ Details of the deal were not disclosed. 

Strategy to extend company’s capabilities

Then in late 2017, Thorne concluded a deal with two bioinformatics experts to found Pillar Health, with a plan to create an artificial intelligence wellness platform that will provide an integrated molecular portrait and optimized recommendations for individuals’ health. 

The announcement of the investments by Kirin and Mitsui was presaged in early December last year by the unveiling of an investment partnership with Mitsui, one of Japan’s largest trading companies and part of the Mitsui Group. The companies said then that Mitsui plans to launch collaborations with other Japanese companies for wellness product development and distribution.

Jacobsen said the latest investment news is in line with the company’s evolving strategy.

“We are very committed to science and technology as a company,”​ Jacobsen told NutraIngredients-USA. “We have spent four or five years building up our capabilities. We will be launching new products that are science based and tie in with our new technologies platforms."

“Now I would say that we are ready to go. The investments from Kirin and Mitsui will enable us to tell that story in a major marketing way. Second, we think it will give us a big foothold in Asia where they will lead the way,​” he said.

Entering the functional beverage space

He said the precise details of what’s to come are still being held close to the vest but the company is preparing for a major announcement soon, with the latest investment news helping to lay the foundation for that. But he was willing to share some broad outlines:

“We are partly going to enter the beverage market. We are going to start looking at a new functional beverage opportunity,”​ he said.

Even before this week’s announcement, Thorne was on the move. The company is well along on building a 272,000 square foot manufacturing facility near Charleston, SC, that will also serve as the company’s new headquarters. For years, Thorne was based in Sandpoint, a small town in northern Idaho.

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