Regulatory approval to boost EU vitamin K2 market

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Vitamin k2 European union

The formal European Union approval of vitamin K2 as a safe food ingredient in foods and food supplements will benefit Norwegian supplier, Natto Pharma, both in Europe and abroad, the company says.

Clinical trials indicate the ingredient can benefit bone and heart health, and the approval will allow global market leader, NattoPharma, to “get serious” ​about the ingredient in the EU, as previously its availability has only occurred by right of derogation in select countries such as the UK and Belgium.

Now that Europe’s risk assessors and managers have given the thumbs up to a form of vitamin K2 derived from soy, discussions with food and supplements makers could begin in earnest.

NattoPharma communications manager, Morten Sundstø, said the first vitamin K2 fortified food was expected on market in 2010 although he wouldn’t specify the exact location nor the particular food matrix. But yoghurt and bakery products are thought to be front-of-attention for NattoPharma and its growing list of food partners.

“It depends on our partners but dairy is an obvious no-brainer because of the number of studies that have shown K2 benefits calcium absorption,” ​Sundstø told NutraIngredients.com this morning. “This is still a virgin market but we are beginning discussions with big market leaders that have been waiting for this approval to occur.”

“Things can grow rapidly now because we have been doing all the educating and as a supplier, that can be difficult. But now our food and supplement partners can assist this process and we have signed a deal with Danisco that should benefit both of us,”​ he added.

New horizons

Under that agreement, Danisco is the sole partner in marketing NattoPharma’s Natto-sourced vitamin K2​ version in foods in all countries except Norway, where Nattopharma remains the direct supplier.

“Danisco has been waiting for this to attack the European food market and now they can go ahead and do it,”​ Sundstø said.

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.

Sundstø said the fact only a particular form of vitamin K2 had been approved favoured his company, which had worked on the approval for 3.5 years, as it was virtually identical to its own proprietary version of the ingredient.

NattoPharma possesses something like 85 per cent of the global vitamin K2 trade, most of which ends up in the US supplements market.

The approval states that vitamin K2, in the form of menaquinone-7 and traces of menaquinone-6, can be safely used in food supplements and foods, and follows earlier novel foods approval in November last year.

Formulation patents, some as old as five years, including one that combined K2 with omega-3 were also pending.

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