CoQ10, a natural antioxidant, is currently in short supply due to growing demand in supplements and cosmetics. Japan's Kaneka Corporation, which supplies between 60-70 per cent of CoQ10 sold in the US, said last year it would expand its facilities to double yearly production of the natural supplement after faster than anticipated growth last year.
Rennaissance and the private Chinese firm are aiming to sell 23,000kg of CoQ10 in the US and Europe between March and December of this year.
Over the past year, sales of CoQ10 products increased 22 per cent in the US mainstream channel and 30 per cent in the health food store channel, according to research from AC Nielsen and Spins. The supplement has been boosted by a study last year showing that it could reduce risk for Parkinson's disease.
It is also regarded as an anti-aging product as biosynthesis of the chemical, naturally produced by the body, begins to drop after the age of about 20. Along with sales to the cosmetic market, (it is thought to prevent damage to collagen and elastin production, stopping wrinkles) sales of CoQ10 are now thought to exceed $200 million across the US.
Synthetic CoQ10 is still made through a labor-intensive fermentation process, and until recently only in Japan. But Bruce H. Lipshutz, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California Santa Barbara, recently reported that he had developed a new manufacturing method using transition metal catalysts that significantly cuts the time and costs of the current process.