According to the company's estimates, around 170m tons of Coenzyme Q10 were sold in the US in 2007. ZMC, which only entered the CoQ10 market in 2005, now claims to control 30 percent of the US market for the ingredient, which it supplies to dietary supplement manufacturers in the country. The firm said its sales volumes increased by 60 percent in the second half of 2007 over the first half. Such growth has prompted ZMC to pinpoint CoQ10 as its business segment with most potential, despite the fact that the ingredient currently only accounts for around 20 percent of its overall sales. CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant, which plays a vital role in the production of chemical energy in mitochondria - the 'power plants' of the cell - by participating in the production of adenosince triphosphate (ATP), the body's co-called 'energy currency'. It has been studied for its role in cognitive health, heart health, and anti-ageing (in oral and topical formulations). Historically the CoQ10 market has been dominated by four Japanese players with the capacity to supply multi-ton quantities of the ingredient, three of which produce CoQ10 through a fermentation process, with one through organic synthesis. Some two thirds of the US-sold CoQ10 is still thought to come from Japan. According to data from the market research firm IRI, CoQ10 saw a 19 percent increase in dollar sales volume at retail level in the US, and a 9 percent increase in unit sales. "This data underscores ZMC's belief in the continued long term stable growth of CoQ10," said the firm last week. "Based upon current supply capacity in relation to anticipated demand, it is expected CoQ10 raw material pricing will remain relatively stable for the near term," it added. However, ZMC USA's national sales manager Sander Krupski told NutraIngredients-USA.com that it believes IRI figures on CoQ10 constitute only 30 percent of the overall market. Sales not tracked by the analysts include Wal-Mart, Costco, internet, catalogue and independent store sales. "We can estimate what the market is to a certain degree from our sales, and from import statistics from Japan," he said. "We believe around 170m tons of CoQ10 were sold in the US in 2007. We also believe there will be a minimum of double-digit growth in the market in 2008." As awareness of the ingredient increases, so too are the number of consumers actively seeking out CoQ10 supplements. Estimates suggest that currently around six million consumers in the US are supplementing an average of 82mg CoQ10 daily. The antioxidant is also emerging as a functional ingredient in food and beverage products. According to data from Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD) six new energy drinks containing the antioxidant were launched in the US last year, and although the figure is still relatively low, it reveals a gradual but strong increase from previous years. In 2006, CoQ10 was used in four new food and beverage products, in 2005 it appeared in two and in 2004 it was used in only one new product. Globally, there were 35 overall launches of foods and beverages containing CoQ10 in 2007. This was a slight dip from 43 products in 2006, but still up on 18 launches in 2004 and 23 in 2005.