Acatris signed a deal with US-based Bioenergy in December to supply its branded D-Ribose ingredient to all markets outside of the US, Japan, China and Taiwan.
The product is already used in a number of supplements currently on the market, including a performance product made by EAS and a sports beverage marketed by the PepsiCo subsidiary SoBe.
However Acatris believes it can take the product further, not only to other sports nutrition products, but also to a much wider range of applications.
Ribose is a naturally occurring monosaccharide essential to every living cell and a building block of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the most important energy pool for the human body, fuelling processes like muscle contraction.
When the ATP pool is used up, the human body restores energy levels by converting glucose to ribose and then finally ATP. However this process can be speeded up by taking ribose supplements.
Bioenergy originally developed ribose - manufactured through fermentation of corn-derived glucose and then ethanol extraction - for a pharmaceutical application to speed up heart patient recovery after surgery.
However it introduced the ingredient for sports nutrition products in 1998, following studies showing its benefits on athletic performance, including energy recovery, and its reduction of muscle soreness and stiffness associated with overwork.
"The difference between ribose and other sports nutrition ingredients like creatine or carnitine is that it doesn't only improve the efficacy of energy production but also makes the total energy pool better," explained Liesbeth Neven, product manager of health ingredients at Acatris.
The Dutch company has also identified several other target applications, including products to help people concentrate for longer during work and energy drinks.
It could also be suitable in supplements for the elderly.
"The elderly have more problems in restoring ATP levels. We think it could be good in combination with joint health ingredients for example to help older people stay active," Neven told NutraIngredients.com.
"It is not really new to the market but is interesting for our customers because of the science," she added. "There are more than 100 clinical studies on ribose."
The ingredient will be sold under a new product category, called A-list.
Acatris will present ribose at the Vitafoods show in May.