Ester-C has been available in Scandinavian markets for several years, distributed by Naturkost in Moss, Norway and from this year by Cederroth, also selling it in Norway and Finland.
Under an extension to the agreement, Cederroth will gain the rights to market in Sweden. Another Swedish firm Bringwell has also signed a new deal with Zila.
"These new agreements will now expand the sale of Ester-C products into all of the Scandinavian countries as well as the major market channels that include supermarkets and mass merchandisers," said Douglas D. Burkett, chief executive of Zila, in a statement.
Ester-C is produced by mixing ascorbic acid and calcium carbonate to create a pH neutral form of vitamin C which helps prevent the stomach disruption that can occur when consumers take large doses of the vitamin in its natural form to help ward off colds.
The resultant product also includes threonate, a natural metabolite of vitamin C which studies have indicated may boost the bioavailability of Ester-C.
However because the product is a modified form of the vitamin, a safety dossier has been submitted to European authorities for its addition to the 2002 supplements directive list of permitted ingredients.
The UK has granted derogation under a special procedure that permits its use in the market until a review by scientific experts. Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden have responded positively to the dossier, giving the firm room for further growth in other markets.
International sales manager Steve Hanson said recently that the company is stepping up both its consumer and trade marketing in the UK.
Zila has also recently reached a deal with Asahi Godo to distribute Ester-C in Japan. The two companies are currently working together to gain regulatory approval under the food additives law, which involves the submission of a dossier setting out what the ingredient is, why it is done and scientific studies indicating its efficacy.
Net revenues for Zila Nutraceuticals for the year to end of July 2005 increased 19 per cent over the prior year to $38.5 million. The revenue gain was driven largely by increased national TV and radio advertising support for Ester-C and the vitamin E product, Ester-E.