Under a licensing agreement, Danisco becomes the sole partner in marketing NattoPharma’s Natto-sourced vitamin K2 version in foods in all countries except Norway, where Nattopharma will remain the direct supplier.
Natto is a fermented soy food popular in Japan. K2, or menaquonine has been shown to benefit cardiovascular and bone health but is still building public awareness.
NattoPharma president and chief executive officer, Thomas Christensen, said the agreement meant the vitamin now had one of the biggest global ingredients suppliers backing it with marketing and educational initiatives.
“A small company like ours need a strong alliance like this,” Christensen told NutraIngredients.com this morning. “Danisco has reliable and proven products and they will be able to take the ingredient to the next level. It’s a win-win situation.”
He said the deal meant five-year-old NattoPharma could concentrate on building the science backing the ingredient and continuing with other research initiatives.
Neither party would disclose the details of the licensing agreement.
Until the present arrangement, NattoPharma had focused on the food supplements market and had captured 90 per cent of the market in Europe, Christensen said, and 70 per cent in the US.
Danisco will focus on the functional foods market but no categories were outlined.
NattoPharma had built its brand, MenaQ7, around the idea of “keeping calcium out of arteries” as well as highlighting its importance to bone health.
“MenaQ7 complements our portfolio of health ingredients and fits well with our strategic focus on Health and Nutrition,” said Danisco BioActives president Fabienne Saadane-Oaks.
“The agreement will contribute to strengthening our range of products for cardiovascular health in addition to opening a new platform for bone health.”
Vitamin K2 has been clinically shown to reduce the build-up of calcium on artery walls. Those consuming Natto have demonstrated less osteoporosis and a reduced risk of bone fractures.
NattoPharma recently had its application for the safe addition of vitamin K2 to various foods and food supplements accepted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and won a Frost & Sullivan award for product innovation.
EFSA concluded vitamin K2, in the oil formulation it tested, is bioavailable as a source of vitamin K and that the menaquinone-rich edible oil was safe for use in foods and supplements except baby foods and infant formula.