Negative study stirs up cranberry extract market

Negative study stirs up cranberry extract market

Something’s brewing in the global cranberry market. Twin acquisitions and a negative study have brought the bitter berries to the fore this past month, and may point to developments in the market down the road.

This fall, the cranberry extract market got a little bit smaller, thanks to two French companies. Naturex, a leading flavors and extracts house, acquired U.S.-based Decas Botanical Synergies on Sept. 19. Decas's flagship PACran cranberry ingredient is supported by two clinical studies and six U.S. and three international patents. Naturex has been on a buying spree of late, and acquired Burgundy Botanical Extracts a year ago. Burgundy also supplies cranberry ingredients.

Later, on October 11, French pharmaceutical company Nexira Group acquired botanical extracts company Tournay Biotechnologies. Tournay’s most popular extract is it Exocyan cranberry ingredient.

Where supply goes, so goes the finished product market. This consolidation suggests burgeoning strength in the cranberry supplement niche—U.S. sales of cranberry supplements grew 14 percent in 2011 to reach nearly $100 million, according to Nutrition Business Journal's 2012 Supplement Business Report—and perhaps foreshadows new product launches for 2013.

That is unless negative science bucks the market.

No benefit on UTIs?

A new systemic review from the Cochrane Collaboration refutes the perception that cranberries combat urinary tract infections (UTIs). According to the research organization, which reviewed 24 studies on cranberry products (mostly juice), though there was a small trend toward fewer UTIs among cranberry juice drinkers, it was not a very significant finding.

Researchers have been quick to lambast the review, and call the quality of the studies reviewed into question. Experts suggest that Cochrane reached its conclusion because the majority of existing studies inadequately quantified the proanthocyanidin (PAC) content of the cranberry juice used in the trial. Extracts with standardized PAC content—like those from Tournay and Decas—make up for that issue and have better science to their credit when it comes to urinary tract health.

Bottom line: There’s movement in cranberry extracts. Whether the Cochrane study causes a major hiccup in the market remains to be seen, but the supplier consolidation suggests a market force more powerful than one negative review. My money’s on a new slate of cranberry supplements at Expo West 2013.

What's your money on? Share in the comments below.

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