According to company CEO and president, Charlie Kotani, about half of the business these days is dedicated to dietary supplements and functional foods. "When I took over in 2005 about 40% of the business was focused around dietary supplements and functional foods, and 60% was focused on pharmaceuticals. Today the business is more evenly distributed between these markets."
Mr. Kotani believes heavily in the benefits of branding, making this a core mission for the company several years ago when he took the helm of the U.S. business. This was important, he says, because at the time Kyowa was mostly known as a bulk amino acid supplier. Due to the company's branding efforts, Mr. Kotani claims the business is doing very well today.
Some of the company's branded ingredient offerings include: Cognizin citicoline for brain and memory health; Setria glutathione, an antioxidant for detoxification and immune health; Pantesin pantethine, a high-bioavailability metabolite of vitamin B5, which helps maintain a favorable lipid balance to promote healthy cardiovascular function; Lumistor hydroxyproline for skin anti-aging and anti-wrinkle applications; Hydrafend, a low molecular weight hyaluronic acid for skin and joint elasticity; Kyowa CoQ10 for heart health; Sustamine L-alanyl-L-glutamine, a "high-tech" dipeptide that promotes muscle rehydration and recovery, and can be used as a source for energy refueling; and SoyScience, a patented soy protein/phospholipid complex for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
Another important aspect of Kyowa's business is research, which is the driving force behind the development of its branded ingredients. "Our amino acids have a lot of science because many of them are used in pharmaceuticals and functional foods in Asia. We decided that we needed to leverage that science and use that to our advantage, so we started building a solid research foundation for our ingredients here in the U.S.," Mr. Kotani said. "Regulations around the world are tightening so it makes sense to have the research backing that we do. We believe we can really make a difference with our data."
One year ago, Kyowa formed a strategic alliance with Kirin Holdings Group, establishing Kyowa Hakko Bio Co. Ltd. as a subsidiary company responsible for the Bio-Chemical business. Chemicals and Food Operations, Kyowa Hakko's other traditional fields of business, continue to be carried out by two other subsidiary companies, Kyowa Hakko Chemical Co., Ltd. and Kyowa Hakko Food Specialties Co., Ltd.
As Mr. Kotani pointed out, Kirin is more than just a beer business; it also has strong capabilities in the food and beverage sector. In addition, he said, the company is very interested in pursuing health and wellness, which is a key focus for Kyowa. As a member of Kirin Holdings, Kyowa will be able to expand its technology and materials to not only the U.S., but also the rest of the world.
On the ingredient front, in June 2007, Kyowa Hakko acquired Daiichi Fine Chemicals. In January 2009, the company became the exclusive distributor in North America of Daiichi Fine Chemical Co., Ltd. vitamins and other fine chemical products. The products include calcium panthothenate, Pantesin pantethine and panthenol, as well as other fine chemical products.
In terms of his outlook on the market, Mr. Kotani said the industry is very stable and growing. "This is quite surprising," he remarked, "especially since the country is in a recession." For the future, he says growth will continue. "Next year, during the second half of 2010, expect more growth as the market bounces back and product development continues," he added-R.W.
Kyowa Hakko USA Inc.
767 Third Avenue, 19th Fl.
New York, NY 10017