Kyowa Hakko Celebrates 50th Anniversary

October 1, 1999

Source: Supplement Industry Executive

Even as the new millennium approaches, another milestone must first be noted: the recent 50th anniversary of nutritional ingredient supplier Kyowa Hakko. Founded by Dr. Benzabro Kato in July of 1949, Kyowa Hakko is one of the world's leading manufacturer of amino acids, nucleic acids, bio-products and fine chemicals for dietary supplement, food and pharmaceutical industries.

The company, which has its international headquarters in Tokyo, operates in the U.S. from a main office in New York City, with an additional West Coast office located in Aliso Viejo, CA. Mr. Toshi Asada is the President and CEO of Kyowa Hakka USA, while Donald Blaine serves as General Manager and Jiro Suezawa is Director of Marketing. The firm employees 5,500 people worldwide. Impressively, 25% of the workforce is involved in research and development.

Kyowa has international sales of $3.5 billion, including $200 million in the U.S. market. A pioneer in the development and application of fermentation technology, Kyowa's leading products in the dietary supplement industry are a full range of amino acids and related compounds. In fact, Kyowa was one of the first patent holders foe the new technology relating to amino acids based on fermentation. The company offers a number of other specialty nutritional ingredients, such as CoQ10, NADH, and mineral orotates.

In a recent interview with SIE, key members of Kyowa Hakko's executive team reviewed some of the firm's achievements during its 50 years of operation, while outlining Kyowa Hakko's goals and objectives for the future.

Kyowa Hakko's vast interests include the production of pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, animal health products, foods, alcoholic beverages and chemicals - products which are derived from the company's expertise in fermentation, biotechnology and chemical synthesis technology. In the pharmaceutical arena, Kyowa is involved in the development of drugs for the prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, immunological diseases and allergies, among other illnesses.

It is this same pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing standard which is applied to the company's nutritional products. Added to this high level of manufacturing expertise is a focus on research and development.

"We are an R&D company - that's our strong point" stressed Asada. He noted that the company's research applies to product development as well as scientific research which helps to discover and validate the health-oriented applications of nutritional ingredients.

"We have our own research-based company in the United States, called Nutriquest, which is involved in organizing, sponsoring and promoting research in humans and animals, primarily for nutritional products," noted Blaine. "And in Japan we sponsor university research on a wide range of topics including nutritional activities."

A related challenge, Blaine and Asada both noted, is making this research-based information more accessible to both product marketers and dietary supplement consumers. "We are trying to be more marketing oriented in order to benefit our customers as well as to increase our business," Asada said. Added Blaine, "We're taking steps to promote the products that we make, and to supply our marketers with more scientific information. We're being much more proactive to help bring to the surface information that will enhance sales."

As the scientific information (existing and/or new) becomes more widely known, Kyowa Hakko sees significant growth potential ahead, especially from amino acids. "A lot of the information simply needs to be translated into a more easily utilized form," Blaine said. "There's existing data or potential uses for amino acids that runs the gamut from sports nutrition to weight loss to weight gain. As a building block of protein, amino acids can find their way into any number of different types of products."

In reviewing he state of today's market for nutritional products, Asada said Kyowa Hakko has enjoyed steady growth for such products as Coenzyme Q10 and amino acids, but he feels it is time to help stimulate the market to achieve continued sales gains. His message: "We're investing our resources to invigorate the amino acid market and support the market through science and marketing."

"The nutritional industry is very marketing driven" pointed out Suezawa. "That's one of the reasons the emphasis has been so strong on herbal products in recent years, perhaps to the detriment of vitamins and amino acids. We want to make sure that amino acids are not forgotten, and based on the scientific data to turn attention back to these products."

At the same time, Kyowa Hakko is looking forward to the introduction of several new products, Asada said, which should help ensure new accomplishments for the company as it enters the next millennium.

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