Cargill claims to be the first manufacturer of a vegetarian glucosamine, producing the product through fermentation of corn at its plant in the US. It launched the product last year and said that strong demand for the product in Japan and the UK pushed it to focus heavily on these markets.
Although glucosamine is an increasingly popular supplement for joint health in most markets, Japan, one of the largest markets for the ingredient at about 400 tons or Y1.5bn per year, has some important differences with the US and rest of Europe, making it an attractive opportunity for Cargill's product.
Unlike the US, where the market is strongly governed by price, Japanese supplement makers place a stronger emphasis on quality and traceability.
This makes them willing to pay a higher price for glucosamine promising both these features.
Fermentation products offer advantages in terms of traceability over other sources.
They also come from a stable supply, in sharp contrast with the material derived from the shells of shrimp or crab. External factors affecting shrimp harvests have led to fluctuating prices for glucosamine over recent years.
Kyowa says the new glucosamine powder will be available for commercial use on 2 September.
A spokesman told NutraIngredients.com that it will "purify the raw materials made by Cargill".
Cargill has also recently gained novel foods approval for the ingredient in the UK.