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Danisco and Kappa to take synthetic vitamin K mass market

By Jess Halliday , 07-Mar-2011

Danisco and Kappa Bioscience have signed a new deal to distribute synthetic vitamin K2, in a bid to build the mass market for the vitamin in bone and cardiovascular heath products.

Vitamin K2, and specifically the long-chain menaquinones (MK-7), has been researched for its role in bone health and cardiovascular health. EFSA has approved a health claim for vitamin K2 and bone health.

Danisco already offers a natural vitamin K2 MK-7, best-known for its presence in Japanese fermented soy bean dish Natto, under its ActivK brand. However while the natural version is ideal for manufacturers wanting to focus on a natural label, those targeting a mass-market approach – who may already use other synthetic vitamins – may opt for the synthetic K2 MK-7 S2000 products.

Kappa’s K2 MK-7 is produced using a synthetic process starting from geraniol. Danisco spokesperson Sarah-Jane Jumppanen said there is a “significant cost difference” between the natural and the synthetic versions driven by higher volume opportunities.

“Premium for natural will always exist over synthetic, although eventually we predict the market size of synthetic to be substantially larger compared to natural MK-7,” she said.

The new synthetic version of K2 MK-7 is said to have the same full bioavailability and bioequivalence as natural vitamin K2 MK-7.

Agreement details

The terms of the non-exclusive agreement have not been disclosed, but the two companies have said they will be working in close cooperation to develop the science and regulatory approvals. A GRAS notification is in process in the US, and in Europe it will go through novel foods approval.

“The agreement reflects the complimentary skillset of Danisco with our global presence, application expertise and ability to understand local customer needs and Kappa's great new synthetic Vitamin K2 MK-7 and their investment in science & regulatory,” Jumppanen said.

Market potential

Jumppanen said that while the dietary supplements market for K2 MK-7 is relatively well-established in the US and Europe, its use in functional foods is still small – with space to grow.

“Dairy is one of the biggest beneficiaries from this – specifically the bone health target segment where the market is looking at differentiating products and Vitamin K2 MK-7 closes the loop,” she said.

It is likely that vitamin K2 will be used in combination with other bone health nutrients calcium and vitamin D.

However pending approval of a cardiovascular health claim, a raft of other products formats may well open up – such as beverages, cereals and bars and spreads.

“Danisco has developed unique application expertise in a number of application without impacting flavour, texture or taste,” she said.

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