ENI licenses patent for vegetarian glucosamine process: We will be offering pricing advantages, says CEO

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Image © iStockPhoto
Image © iStockPhoto

Related tags Chondroitin sulfate Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug

ENI (Ethical Naturals Inc.) has signed a license agreement with ALS (Arkion Life Sciences) for the patents that employ a microbial fermentation process to produce N-acetyl glucosamine and glucosamine.

This license agreement, which relates to US Patent numbers 8,124,381​ and 7,332,304​, gives ENI the legal right to make, sell, import, and export the patent-protected glucosamine throughout the world where ALS has issued patents and patent applications.

The resulting glucosamine will be marketed under ENI’s GMO-free, vegetable source  GreenGrown Glucosamine brand, said the company.  

“These two patents put us in a strong position where our customers get verified vegetable source material, and will be protected from any potential patent infringement,”​ said Cal Bewicke, CEO of ENI. “In a field crowded with hundreds of joint care products, GreenGrown USP glucosamine, used as a stand-alone, or combined with other vegetable source ingredients such as Opti-MSM, provides a real value-added opportunity.”

Bewicke told us that the company has been working on this project for some months, and they have material in-stock for product formulators, as well as commercial stock ready for delivery.

The new process is more efficient than others, said Bewicke, and ENI will be offering its regular and new customers pricing advantages.

Demand is still very large for glucosamine

The joint health segment is dominated by combination products containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, driven by positive data from big studies like GAIT and demand from aging consumers to naturally support their joints. (Pharmaceutical solutions include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but these have been linked with gastrointestinal toxicity, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.)

Glucosamine and chondroitin have faced pressures in the market, however, with the emergence of multiple scientifically-supported joint health ingredients and increased consumer interest in sourcing driving a downturn for the ingredients. Indeed, sales of glucosamine and glucosamine + chondroitin supplements fell 12% to $275 million in 2014 in natural plus conventional channels, according to data provided by SPINS to NutraIngredients-USA. (Interestingly, glucosamine-only supplement sales increased 1.1% from 2013 to be worth $67.9 million in 2014.)

Despite this downturn, figures for January to August of 2015 indicate that about 6,000 tons of glucosamine were imported into the US. “For glucosamine demand in general, the figures are still very large,”​ said Bewicke.

And the demand is particularly strong for vegetarian sourced glucosamine, where Regenasure by Cargill (manufactured through conversion of fungal biomass) and GlucosaGreen by TSI USA play alongside ENI’s GreenGrown Glucosamine.

“This vegetable source preference is also showing up in the large number of products now packaged into veg hard-shell capsules (vs. gelatin),”​ he said. “For example Capsugel informed us that they have recently invested $25million in the development of veg capsule production.”


patent_image (1)
Image © iStockPhoto

This is the second intellectual property win for ENI in respect to glucosamine: in 2011 the company received  a patent​ for its method of identifying the unique markers that differentiate between shellfish and vegetable-based glucosamine.

This is a critical step in validating the supply chain, said ENI, and to ensure accurate allergy labeling of finished products (according to labeling guidelines shellfish-derived glucosamine must carry an allergy warning). 

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