KitoZyme became the world’s only vegetable-sourced chitosan supplier when it launched the ingredient at the Vitafoods trade show in Geneva in May last year. Most chitosan is sourced from shellfish and is typically marketed in the weight management area valued at about €7bn worldwide.
Since then the ingredient has achieved European Union Novel Foods approval as it has been deemed substantially equivalent to animal versions already approved across the 27-member state EU bloc.
However the ingredient KitoZyme says has been proven to bind fat more efficiently than animal-derived versions, is yet to reach market. Fat binding is thought to be a key process in weight loss.
“The problem we have is that very few people know about us – that is why we are increasing our exposure this year by exhibiting at major shows like Vitafoods, Food Ingredients Europe and SupplySide West in the US,” marketing and sales manager, Laurence Cordonnier, told NutraIngredients.com.
She said the fungi-sourced ingredient produced under a patented process had been researched since about 2000 and the R&D-focused company collaborates with two Belgian universities – the Catholic University of Louvain the Diabetology, Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases Department at the Hospital Center of the University of Liège.
One study had demonstrated vegetable chitosan could bind 800 times its own weight in fat – substantially more than animal-based versions.
“The research is very positive in addition to other advantages such as the fact we have a constant supply and aren’t affected by the seasonality that can affect the shellfish market,” Cordonnier said.
Cholesterol management was also being looked at.
A study published in 2007 in the Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, found chitosan food supplements cut weight gain and cholesterol levels in rats.
KitoZyme’s chitosan offerings are “marginally more expensive than shellfish chitosan”, she said of the traceable, non-GMO, preservative free and hypoallergenic ingredients that fall within the company’s KiOnutrime range.
Because medical applications are also envisioned, the ingredients are manufactured to pharma-level Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) standards.
“A major German manufacturer is onboard and we are in discussions with supplements manufacturers in other parts of Europe and the US,” Cordonnier said.
KitoZyme had not yet compiled a health claim dossier for submission to the European Union claims process, but “is considering it”.