Chromium picolinate, a mineral form shown to increase insulin sensitivity and help in blood sugar control, was not included in the positive list of ingredients allowed under the 2002 European supplements directive.
However authorities will allow ingredients not on the list to remain on the market up until 2009 if a dossier of scientific safety data is submitted to the European Food Safety Authority for review prior to implementation of the directive this August.
Nutrition 21 currently sells a limited amount of chromium picolinate into the UK market through Holland and Barrett, a subsidiary of US customer NBTY.
However it said yesterday that derogation from the directive will allow it to expand in Europe's food and supplement markets. It plans to develop a European alliance to sell Chromax in ingredient systems for use in functional foods and beverages and will also look for European partners to market and distribute its chromium picolinate and biotin formulation Diachrome.
"The company is in discussion with several interested parties who share our enthusiasm for the market potential for Chromax and Diachrome," said CEO and president Gail Montgomery.
Nutrition 21 will also request approval for the ingredient in other countries, including Austria, Germany and Ireland, during the EFSA review process.
The firm will be aiming to target rising risk for diabetes in Europe. An estimated 33 million people in the region already have the condition, and this is expected to increase to 48 million by 2030.
In its domestic market, sales of chromium picolinate, worth around $106 million in 2003 in retail terms, have grown by around 25 per cent since 2002, according to Montgomery.