Chinese to boost vitamin B2 output by 4000+ tonnes

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Metric system Vitamins

Two Chinese operations are set to significantly increase the global supply of vitamin B2 in a move that will likely place downward pressure on price on the popular nutrient.

One of the companies is Xinfa Pharmaceutical, which has been working on a food quality facility that will have a capacity of 2000 metric tonnes per year, according to press reports.

It is not known when the facility will open, but the company will be banking on a smooth process after it was recently involved in a widely publicised sabotage and industrial espionage case.

The other project is a partnership between Hubei Guangji Pharmaceutical and Henan Golden Corn that could see another 2500 metric tonnes per annum reach market, but again no timeframes have set down.

B2, or riboflavin, is commonly used in multivitamin and B complexes and has become a stalwart of energy drink products due to its energy-giving potential. Other benefits include its role as an antioxidant.

High-dose vitamin B2 supplementation was recently shown in a study to benefit migraine sufferers.

Market researcher, Euromonitor, puts the global market for all B vitamins at €2.6bn.

Such healthy demand has helped the fermentation-derived ingredient maintain a price of about €40-€90 per kilogram of material depending on volumes and whether it is food or feed grade.

Hubei Guangji, along with BASF, are the two major global manufacturers of low-cost riboflavin forms. BASF’s main facility is in South Korea.

Downward pressure

A spokesperson for UK-based supplier, Gee Lawson, told such a significant increase in output could only force prices down, although it was not certain whether the bulk of the new material would be used for the food or the feed market.

“But exchange rates are benefiting European and US production, so the competitive advantage enjoyed by the Chinese in recent years is dwindling somewhat,”​ he said. “But vitamin B prices have been high for more than 12 months and so that is always going to attract new players.”

The Chinese firms, nor BASF, were available for comment by the time of publication.

Hubei Guangji told a Chinese news service said it would halt production of feed grade riboflavin at its existing facility once the new plant in the Henan region in central China kicked into life. The old facility would then be devoted to food and pharma-grade riboflavin production.

However, the economic slowdown that was affecting China along with the rest of the global economy, meant neither facility, old or new, would be operating at full capacity for some time, as levels stayed similar to those in 2008.

Riboflavin’s yellow-orange colour means it is often used as a food colouring.

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