Fermented resveratrol from Swiss biotech firm Evolva has won Japanese pre-approval in foods and food supplements – but the company says it won’t be jumping straight into the market.
Evolva acquired its fermented yeast resveratrol business for about €550,000 from Fluxome late last year, with the failed Danish firm having applied for the Japanese approval before Evolva came onboard.
Fluxome has also applied for approval in other countries and the heart health-boosting antioxidant that can also be sourced from red wine skins and Chinese knotweed, has GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status in the US and novel foods approval in the EU.
Whilst Evolva is thrilled with the decision of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to classify its resveratrol as a food and not a drug, Evolva investor relations director Paul Verbraeken told us real activity on the market was unlikely to begin until 2014.
“This is a significant approval step but we are working on the production process efficiency and believe we can improve the potential of this ingredient by getting the economics right first,” he said.
Indeed it was the production cost and premium pricing of the ingredient that was one of the major factors in Fluxome’s demise last year.
Verbraeken would not specify likely cost reductions but said they are “significant” and would make the nutrient, “much more attractive”.
Resveratrol is typically used in food supplements as well as beverages, cosmetic products and other foodstuffs with claims around heart, inflammation and skin health the most common.
“We are also keen to significantly expand the product application potential of this product,” said Evolva CEO Neil Goldsmith in a statement.
Of the production cost reduction potential for resveratrol, Verbraeken previously told us: “We have already shown we can do this with vanillin via our yeast fermentation methods and we will do the same here.”
The Fluxome deal includes another €650,000 to be paid in the next 12 months if undisclosed conditions are met, plus a, “single digit percentage” royalty payable until the point Evolva resveratrol sales total about €55m.
The global resveratrol supply market is valued at $50.2m (€40m) according to a Frost and Sullivan report, with 90% of volumes accounted for by the US food supplements market.
But Evolva has indicated there may be more potential in Asian markets.
Evolva this year inked a deal with Cargill to develop fermented steviol glycosides.