Garcinia cambogia, commonly known as the Malabar tamarind and also under the alternative scientific name of Garcinia gummi-gutta, has been used as a weight loss ingredient for decades. The rinds yield extracts standardized to the active ingredient hydroxycitric acid (HCA). HCA’s method of action is thought to be two fold; in the brain, it is believed to alter chemical signaling to depress appetite, and it also is believed to inhibit fat synthesis.
First to the demand issue: Recent reports from industry sources indicated a rising demand for garcinia cambogia ingredients, with one source reporting price increases of as much as 50% in the last three quarters or so. Not all suppliers report observing the same spike, but all agreed the ingredient is growing in popularity, partly because of a Nov. 2012 segment of the Dr Oz Show that featured the ingredient.
“There has been a definite increase in demand of Super CitriMax from manufacturers. InterHealth works closely with our partners in India to source and supply the ingredient and to try to work with pricing as not to pass on much of the increase to our customers,” said Juliana Erickson marketing manager for InterHealth Nurtracueticals told NutraIngredients-USA. InterHealth, based in Benicia, CA, manufactures Super CitriMax, a formulation that binds HCA with calcium and potassium to improve absorption.
“Garcina cambogia extracts have bounced back and carved a share from other weight loss products such as Coleus forskohlii, Hoodia and white kidney bean extract,” said V Hariharan, managing director of Phytotech Extract Pvt of India. The company manufactures a range of garcinia cambogia extracts branded as Garslim Aquasol with HCA concentrations as high as 72%.
Sabinsa, which has a headquarters in New Jersey and major facilities in Utah and India, manufactures a range of garcinia cambogia ingredients including GarCitrin, which combines garcinol, another chemical extracted from the botanical, with HCA to boost its biological activity.
Shaheen Majeed, director of marketing for Sabinsa, said, “Our supply chain is intact and our quality controls are in place. But without a doubt, we’re seeing the same signals in the marketplace of rising demand, which is outweighing the current agricultural supply from farmers. Inevitably this will lead to higher prices per kilo.”
“Without doubt, Dr Oz became an effective marketing tool for garcinia . . . the truth of the matter is, he sells,” he said.
Supplies getting tight
Then there is the supply portion of the picture. Like many other botanicals, garcinia does not lend itself to a rapid ramp up in production, as it is the fruit of a tropical tree that takes some years to bear fruit, so it’s not a matter of simply planting more acreage to meet demand. And has been the case for other botanicals that rapidly increase in popularity, a number of companies appear that purport to offer versions of the ingredient. A recent search on alibaba.com turned up dozens of companies claiming to be able to supply garcinia cambogia ingredients.
“This imbalance of supply and demand is often upset further by suppliers that sell material at higher lead levels along with various contaminants. They will be cheaper to buy from but will ultimately and sadly erode the marketplace for garcinia. When the price goes up, many suppliers will jump in, offering spot buy opportunities to companies for lower prices,” Majeed said.
“Because of the sudden increase in demand the market faced raw material shortage. More players started producing 50% material. Farmers took advantage of the situation. Thus the raw materials became very expensive in lieu of shortage. Many importers especially from USA have started keeping very high inventory of the materials foreseeing acute shortage. All these compounded to price increase and we expect further increase till June,” Hariharan said.
And, as has happened in other botanicals, along with poor quality material some less reputable supplies make outright substitutions. Hariharan said this is less so in the higher-quality ingredients with higher concentrations or unique formulations, but in the low end of the market, the 50% extracts, adulteration has been observed.
“The 50% materials are imitated, compromised in quality, diluted with dextrin and other diluents etc.,” he said.
Future bright for high quality ingredients
But even with the quality concerns at the low end of the market, suppliers agreed that the future is bright for top-shelf, science-backed garcinia ingredients. Obesity is a rising tide world wide, and garcinia’s dual mode of action makes it an attractive choice for weight management formulations.
“We will see a continued demand for Super CitriMax this year,” Interhealth’s Erickson said.
“The weight category will always be a major sector of growth for our industry. Sabinsa pioneered the research on garcinia and came out with an unique extract,” said Majeed.
“Garcinia has been in the market for over two decades and has been clinically studied several times by various researchers and clinicians with encouraging results, thus there is ample evidence to show its benefits in fat metabolism. In fact the market of Garcinia has been showing an upward trend in last few years due to increased media attention and customer acceptance,” he said.