Fraudulent products also raise safety risks and could jeopardise the strong future for this supplement, an antioxidant made naturally by the body, which has been shown to have significant benefits for skin, anti-ageing and mental health.
Kaneka, headquartered in Japan, says it has contacted regulatory authorities in its home market and the US after existing customers reported that agents were offering the firm's material at higher prices.
Kaneka supplies its product directly to end-users for use in branded products and does not use any distributors or traders. Therefore, traders should not have had any inventory of Kaneka Q10 for sale, claims the firm.
It supplies between 60-70 per cent of the CoQ10 sold in the US, which has been estimated to account for up to two thirds of global demand. It doubled its capacity to 150 tons last year and will add a further 30 tons this year, followed by an additional 100 tons at a new plant next year.
According to the firm, market traders have provided a forged Certificate of Authenticity purporting to have been signed by Kaneka's quality assurance manager. Yet in some cases, the contents of CoQ10 are adulterated and contain very low amounts or no CoQ10 in them at all. The product packaging imitates Kaneka's labelling and container.
CoQ10 currently sells for around $4,000 per kg on the spot market and looks set to climb higher as manufacturers fail to meet surging demand, triggered by a study showing its benefit to Parkinson's patients and regulatory changes opening up its use in food supplements in Japan.
This shortage of raw material and very high prices are increasing the incentive for the manufacture of false CoQ10.
Kaneka meanwhile claims it makes no gain from the current situation, and that its prices have been stable for the last year.
Manufacturing coQ10 is a difficult and costly process, which has limited the number of manufacturers supplying the market. Kaneka has produced natural CoQ10 since 1977 through a yeast fermentation process. Like any fermentation process, purification is key to safety of the ingredient but in fake products, this safety cannot be guaranteed.
Kaneka is clearly mainly concerned about the damage to its brand, which has been one of the few CoQ10 brands promoted to the supplement industry, and is now found in capsules, tablets, toothpaste, skin cream, chewing gum and mouthwash.
The Japanese company says it is currently investigating technology that could detect fraudulent material. Other material is made through bacteria fermentation or a synthetic process that uses a byproduct of tobacco leaves. This contains a certain cis isomer that could help identify fake Kaneka products.
It says it is preparing to take criminal and civil action against anyone identified as selling fake products.