The firm believes the food and beverage sector is an ideal space for innovation because there is low vitamin K2 awareness among consumers.
“The common consumers and the industry know vitamin A, C, D, E but when it comes to vitamin K2, most are not aware about it,” newly appointed head of business development South Asia, Hidayat Ali, told NutraIngredients-Asia.
Since vitamin K2 provides synergistic effects with paired vitamin D3 and calcium, he said that it was used to confer heart and bone health benefits throughout different stages of life.
Examples include supporting bone formation in children, teenagers, and the elderly.
It is also useful for pregnant women and lactating mothers as calcium from their bodies are transferred to form the placenta and breast milk.
On the other hand, vitamin K2 works to remove calcium deposit in the blood vessels and benefit heart health.
As such, he believes that opportunities are plenty and sees cooking oil, milk, and confectionary as segments with good potential for vitamin K2 fortification.
“There are many companies adding vitamins A, D into edible oil, and because vitamin K2 is well-gel with these vitamins, this is another area which we can explore.
“But the industry is still not very aware on how vitamin K2 could be a good ingredient; it is still not explored and so I think this is an opportunity for us,” he said.
The company also recently received vegan approved certifications for its vitamin K2 and premium calcified Atlantic seaweed marine calcium ingredients, further opening the door of opportunities in India which has a big vegetarian population.
Compared to many other vitamins, vitamin K2 has only made its entry into the market about 10 years ago and is thus more expensive.
However, prices have been declining over the years and it is now about euro one to two cents for a day’s dosage of vitamin K2, said communications lead Jim Beakey.
“It is now about one to two cents Euros on average for a daily dose of vitamin K2 and is low enough to be included in mass market products,” Beakey said, adding that the firm supplied vitamin K2 in both MCC powder and MCT oil forms.
While he has declined to provide yoy sales growth figures, he said that the entire vitamin K2 market has almost doubled yoy.
According to Hidayat, the firm is working with a team of 10 distributors and marketeers. It is also receiving interest from over 200 firms in India, including major food and beverage brands.
Aside from food and beverage, he also sees opportunities in the pharmaceutical sector, since it is the first to have received approval for a drug import licence to India for its proprietary vitamin K2 ingredient, K2VITAL DELTA.
This means that the firm’s vitamin K2 could be added into cardiovascular drugs and prescribed as part of osteoporosis treatment.
“Vitamin K2 can be used in cardiovascular drugs since it reduces arterial calcification thereby helping to reduce blood pressure. It is also widely prescribed during the treatment of osteoporosis,” Hidayat said.
“We will establish our name as a scientific company,” he added. At this point, most of the firm’s clinical trials are taking place in Europe.
Barriers to growth
While the growth potential in India is “exceptional”, the quality of vitamin K2 across companies is not necessarily up to standard and this might undermine the ingredient’s efficacy and market reputation.
“One challenge that Kappa faces is with the quality of the products that are out in the marketplace from other competitors and brands,” Beakey said.
“This is because vitamin K2 is not stable when combined with other minerals, this is something that the industry is slow to learn in formulating vitamin K2 and therefore, the unprotected vitamin K2 combined with minerals doesn’t provide the value that it should.”
As such, he said there was a need to ensure product transparency and quality.
To address the problem of low bioavailability, the firm previously launched a proprietary and micro-encapsulated product version, known as K2VITAL DELTA.