The new plant will be integrated into the Citral Verbund in Ludwigshafen, Germany, where BASF already operates a vitamin A production plant.
The company said it had chosen Germany as the location for the new plant, as full integration into the BASF production ‘Verbund’ would enable it to “use its resources in the most efficient way”.
Last January BASF expanded the capacity of its existing vitamin A plant by 25% to keep pace with “rising demand”.
This second plant is scheduled to come on stream in 2020, giving BASF an additional capacity of 1,500 metric tons, or 2.8 million International Units of vitamin A acetate.
Securing future supply
BASF told NutraIngredients a significant capacity increase through a new plant would allow it to support its customers’ growth in the long-term.
“This approach will ensure high delivery reliability well into the future,” said Alexandre Terrenoire, who heads global product management for vitamins in BASF’s human nutrition business.
He confirmed that all regions and markets were driving growth of vitamin A, but said that in emerging markets, such as Africa and Asia, vitamin A is becoming increasingly important for food fortification owing to its role in growth and development, as well as in eye, lung and skin function.
“Vitamin A is crucial with regards to food fortification; developing and emerging countries suffering from vitamin A deficiencies face a major public health problem, therefore additional vitamin A is essential to fortify staple foods such as sugar, flour, oils and milk,” he said.
BASF’s other major European competitor, DSM, confirmed that its vitamin A, predominantly produced for captive use in premixes, was experiencing “healthy demand”.
“Demand for vitamin A - in our case mainly via premix - is healthy, and growth for application in human premixes is expected to continue to develop well,” said Nelleke Barning, global director of communications and external affairs.
Vitamin A: a 7500 ton market
The vitamin A market is growing at a steady - rather than startling - rate.
BASF estimates the size of the global vitamin A market at approximately 7500 metric tons, and puts the annual growth rate of vitamin A destined for human nutrition applications at around 2% per annum.
It confirmed that the majority of production takes place in Europe and China. In Europe, three players - DSM, BASF and Adisseo – dominate the field and collectively account for over 60% of the market.
In China, three companies have achieved large-scale production. These are Zhejiang NHU, Zhejiang Medicine and Kingdomway, who between them have a total capacity that accounts for 40% of market share.
There are seven EU-approved vitamin A health claims including for immunity, iron metabolism, skin health and vision.