Hiren Doshi, vice president of U.S. operations at OmniActive Health Technologies, gave Functional Ingredients the following assessment of the lutein market in the coming year:
"Lutein is going to be a strong ingredient in the coming year. Ever since we have been involved with lutein we have seen a steady expansion. Eye health is one of the top health concerns. Preventing AMD is one of lutein’s benefits. But I’d talk about overall eye-health because it is more encompassing.
"Lutein does have some supply challenges. Over the past year the raw material used to make lutein—marigold flowers—experienced a shortage. Marigold flowers have a couple of different applications, for lutein for human nutrition and as an animal feed additive. The supply base that services the chicken feed category experienced a shortage, and that led to significant increases in prices for lutein for the feed industry.
At OmniActive we have invested heavily in vertical integration. Year after year we have kept on expanding our agricultural operations. Our focus was mainly the quality of the ingredient. When all these shortages came about and everyone started poaching each other’s raw materials, we had our stable base of farmers and supply which kept us in a good position and none of our customers were impacted with supply-related issues.
The science on lutein has been around, but we’re working on how to accomplish more meaningful dosages. There is a formulation challenge putting so much lutein into a pill—you end up making horse pills. We have been working on high-potency lutein."