NAD+ precursors: Hong Kong, ANZ and China help drive Chromadex results as firm fires warning over NMN explosion

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Chromadex’s net sales last year hit US$59.3m, up 28 per cent yoy. ©Getty Images
Chromadex’s net sales last year hit US$59.3m, up 28 per cent yoy. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Hong kong, China, Nad, NMN, Nr

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) supplement specialist Chromadex’s has posted strong regional and global FY2020 financials, but the firm has issued a warning of ‘concerning behaviour’ from some nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) brands, especially in China.

Chromadex’s FY2020 net sales hit US$59.3m, up 28 per cent yoy, with personal healthcare retail chain AS Watson’s activities in Hong Kong its biggest sales driver in APAC.

The company also recorded a gross profit of US$35.2m last year, up from US$25.7m in 2019.

The nicotinamide riboside (NR) firm sells its ingredient through the trademark Niagen, while its finished product is sold under the brand Tru Niagen. It first ventured into APAC, starting with Hong Kong four years ago.

The ingredient is said to boost the body’s level of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)​ – which the company said has benefits for healthy ageing, 

Australia/New Zealand and China markets are the company’s second and third largest markets in APAC, it told NutraIngredients-Asia. ​The company only ventured into the Australia market last year.

Most of the company’s global net sales last year came from the selling of Tru Niagen via e-commerce. This channel contributed net sales of US$34.5m, up 25 per cent yoy.

Next is Watson’s and other B2B sale of Tru Niagen, which brought in net sales of US$12.6m, a yoy growth of 47 per cent. 

Aside from the original Tru Niagen product, the company also launched a beauty-from-within​ and an active lifestyle​ version in APAC.

Most of the sales via Watson’s came from the Hong Kong and Singapore markets, said the company.

On the other hand, its Niagen ingredient registered net sales of US$7.1m, up 45 per cent yoy.

NPD

There are plans to develop new products by combining Niagen with other functional ingredients, Dr Andrew Shao, SVP of Global Regulatory and Scientific Affairs told us. 

He declined to reveal further information but said the company has been exploring different functional categories in which Niagen could be incorporated.

On the other hand, the company has identified vitality, including cardiovascular, metabolic health, as its most prominent human clinical research areas.

Nearly two-thirds of its human clinical research are focusing on this area, specifically type II diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver, weight loss, heart failure, immunity, chronic kidney disease, and cystic fibrosis.

Another 23 per cent of the research is on Parkinson’s Disease, muscle function, sarcopenia, and exercise capacity.  

On China’s NMN craze

With China one of its top three APAC markets, the frenzy in China over nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) – another NAD+ precursor – last year has been brought to the attention of the company.

The explosion of NMN in the marketplace has been a concern, due to a lack of scientific evidence, the company said.

“Many of these companies, the behaviour of these companies is very concerning.

“They are marketing NMN containing products as miracle cures, making claims that really aren't supported by rigorous science,”​ said Dr Shao.

“They are making claims about longevity, about reversing the ageing, about treating diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease based on preclinical studies and maybe in some cases, no studies,” ​he added.

He explained that unlike NR, NMN is not able to cross the cell membrane once orally consumed and needed to be converted into NR.

Both NMN and NR technically serves as NAD precursors. But when you ingest NMN orally, NMN has to be converted into NR first in order for it to function.

So, when it comes to seeking a NAD precursor as a supplement, as long as you have access to NR, there is really no purpose for using NMN,” ​he said, adding that the behaviour of making unsubstantiated health claims could drag down the entire NAD precursor supplement category.

In addition, NR, as in the case of Niagen, has been approved by regulatory bodies in the US, Canada, and Australia, he said.

“[There is} nothing really against NMN as a molecule because as I said, it is a NAD precursor, it is just a less efficient one compared to NR. But it is really the behaviour of these companies that is potentially going to sour the market for all NAD precursors.”

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