When consumers think of vitamin E, they are probably thinking of the tocopherol form. The vitamin comes in eight forms: Four tocopherols and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta-forms of each).
John Kurstjens from Lipid Nutrition, which offers a tocotrienol ingredient from palm oil, told NutraIngredients: “Vitamin E is a mature market and companies are looking to differentiate their products in this market,” and that is where tocotrienols have potential. Tocotrienols are seen as “the next generation vitamin E”, he added.
Dr Barrie Tan, president of American River Nutrition, a Massachusetts-based supplier of tocotrienols extracted from annatto, explained that the global tocotrienol market is worth between $35 million and $45 million.
This related to only about 10 percent of the global vitamin E market, which is currently estimated at $350-450 million, said Dr Tan.
The biggest supplier of tocotrienols – Malaysia’s Carotech – agreed, with WH Leong, vice president of Carotech Inc., stating that the market is valued at $4-5 million per month, with 75 percent of the market in the US.
Lipid Nutrition’s Kurstjens agreed, and added: “It is a very small market, a market in its infancy.” Kurstjens estimated the market size at around 50 metric tonnes worldwide.
Dr Tan notes that the US and Japan are the two biggest markets and the EU “a distant third”. The vast majority of the market is for dietary supplements, with Carotech’s Leong claiming that 90-95 percent is for dietary supplements, with 5-10 percent for cosmetics.
Carotech’s Leong notes that the main challenge to further growth in the tocotrienol market is the pricing.
The price of the ingredient reflects the size on the market, said Kurstjens, with tocotrienols significantly more expensive that their tocopherol cousins. “The price is generally about five times more expensive,” he said.
But this does not diminish Dr Tan’s view that functional foods are the main opportunity for tocotrienols, before adding that the “main challenges are to expand body of research in food sciences and clinical studies”.
The science is already impressive, however, as detailed in the first part of our series: The science of the ‘next generation’ vitamin E