The mineral market has been a slow-and-steady player in the supplement and functional foods industries for the last decade, and the subset of bioactive chelate suppliers has remained a tiny segment of the overall market. But an acquisition from last month puts one company in the position to drive that market towards future growth.
In November, Innophos Holdings—a publicly-traded supplier of phosphates to food and pharma—bought chelated mineral producer Kelatron for $21 million. Formerly backed by private equity groups Hadley Capital and First Analysis, the Ogden, Utah–based Kelatron has long been a key supplier of chelates and micronutrients to the dietary supplement industry, and specializes in lesser-known minerals like manganese, strontium and chromium.
“The combination of Kelatron’s micronutrient range of products with the macronutrients of calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus currently manufactured by Innophos is expected to significantly strengthen Innophos’ offering to its food, beverage and dietary supplement customers,” reads a November 2 press release from Innophos.
According to Mark Thurston, vice president of business development for Innophos, the deal shows promise to help meet growing international demand for micronutrients. “Suppliers of micronutrients and chelates tend to be smaller companies,” he says. “With Innophos’s global presence, global supply chain, and excellent customer relationships, it allows us to rapidly become a leader in the chelated mineral market.”
Global markets of interest include Europe, Latin America and Asia—where Innophos already has an office in Shanghai. Though Europe as a whole appears to be a very mature and closed market for dietary supplements, Thurston actually sees great opportunity for chelates. “In terms of EFSA approval, one of the few areas with positive claims is for minerals. Customers can claim the beneficial effects of key minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. But some micronutrients are also mentioned, like selenium, molybdenum, manganese, copper and chromium.”
According to Nutrition Business Journal’s 2011 Raw Material & Ingredient Supply report, the mineral ingredient market has grown annual sales at an average of 4% since 2000, with continued low to mid single-digit growth forecast for the near future.