Glucosamine prices on the rise again

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Glucosamine prices continue to rise and could go up a further 25
per cent in the first quarter of next year, according to Europe's
leading supplier.

Sundeep Aurora, president of the Indian company Pharmed Medicare, which claims to supply more than 80 per cent of Europe's glucosamine, says prices for the joint health ingredient have increased a further 10 per cent in the last week, bringing them close to $20 per kg.

While he is unable to pinpoint the cause of this latest jump, he says there is likely to be little let-up in rising prices next year owing to US anti-dumping duties on the main raw material for glucosamine, shrimp.

Once an expensive ingredient, glucosamine has been as low as $5 in recent years but restrictions in raw material supply, in the face of strong growth in demand, has sent prices soaring this year.

Aurora believes the price increase is "by and large from the US anti-dumping actions".

Shrimp producers in the US competing with major producer countries like China and India launched investigations by competition authorities at the beginning of the year. The US department of commerce has now issued its 'final determinations' on the first two of six countries concerned - anti-dumping duty margins range up to 112.81 per cent for China and 25.76 per cent for Vietnam.

It is due to issue its final determinations on India, Brazil, Ecuador and Thailand on 20 December.

While the imposition of duties requires confirmation from the US International Trade Commission that the imports injured or threatened US industry (ITC is due to make its final injury determination in all six cases in January), the opening of investigations has already had a major impact on shrimp farming.

"Meat prices are down about 50 per cent so there is very little incentive for farmers or shrimp fishing,"​ Aurora told

However the market continues to grow by around 8-10 per cent in the US and more than 15 per cent in Europe and Asia, according to the glucosamine company, putting significant pressure on supply.

Aurora said that a new vegetarian glucosamine source, manufactured by Cargill, has helped ease pressure and will provide around 700 tons of material annually.

However regular glucosamine producers are currently in a bidding war over chitin supplies, the key raw material, up by almost 15 per cent, due to the shortage of shrimp.

Chinese producers have also cited fuel costs as having a major role in the glucosamine price rises, however Aurora notes that the fuel costs are a small part of the production process - the ingredient is produced through chemical synthesis - and only impact the supply chain very early on.

"If we get a big catch during 2005 we could see prices going down but even then there will be little incentive to go fishing,"​noted Aurora.

"We will most likely see prices [for glucosamine] rise a further 25-30 per cent in the first quarter of next year. And current prices will be close to the lowest we see for 2005,"​ he predicts.

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