The cGMP facility, located in the state of Bahia, has been manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients for SmithKline Beecham since 1984, but in the last year has also produced lecithin derivatives and phospholipids.
Now, a new line will also make Chemi's SerinAid brand 50 per cent phosphatidylserine (PS) powder for North and South American markets, with further lines expected to be added in 2005 for other PS powder grades.
Phosphatidylserine is naturally present in the brain of animals, and regulates many metabolic processes including neuronal signalling. However it cannot be synthesized by the body and changes in the western diet over recent years have led to a decline in dietary uptake of the nutrient.
The supplement, derived from soy processing by-products, is now well established with significant evidence documenting its benefits to memory and cognitive performance in the elderly. Growth is also being driven by new applications including its potential to reduce stress in younger age groups and in sports nutrition.
However the marketplace for PS is increasingly competitive with new entrants to the market and price pressure on soy derivatives. Chemi says the new plant will allow it to be more aggressive on price and give it more room for new products.
"There is lots of new interest in nutritional lipids including phospholipids and our 50 per cent powder has been growing nicely. The price of PS is also going down, making it more accessible to manufacturers," Stefano Talami, product manager for Chemi Nutraceuticals, told NutraIngredients.com.
But the company was previously processing part of the raw material in Brazil and making the finished product in Italy. Complete production in Brazil means it is much closer to its key raw materials, including IP-certified soya.
It also allows the firm to make use of a high quality, FDA-certified plant.
"Now hopefully we will be able to offer our customers a better service and a more competitive price in Europe," said Talami.
This edge could be key in the future, with the pending sale of leading PS supplier, Degussa Food Ingredients.
"We need to be ready if there is a competitive opportunity," commented Talami, adding that there is a need to make 'more space' for new products in the pipeline. He did not reveal whether the new products would be based around the current PS portfolio.
Work on the Brazilian plant, scheduled for completion in the third quarter of next year, includes a complete upgrade of PS drying and milling rooms, new R&D and QC facilities, a new plant for active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) production, and a new warehouse.