Need Data on Valerian Market Size, Prices, Etc.
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: Tom Levar
Posted on: September 29, 1999

Please direct me to companies which buy or market valerian derivative products (nationally and internationally). I have some basic questions regarding market size, economics, demand, pricing, trends and projections, etc.

Valerian markets have been essentially stable since World War I, as it is our primary source for the muscle relaxant valerine sulfate. When European sources were not available to North America (due to war), we began to synthesize this chemistry. But it was not as cheap or as good as that from natural sources.

Competition and price have limited domestic production until recently, with the break-up of Soviet Bloc Countries. Now, competitive pricing has a potential chance, except for the imports from India. It is subsidized from there, making some larger sales difficult. Also, the Bulgarian spot price C&F New York is currently at $2.00/kg, making it very hard to compete.

The variety from India also contains valepotriates in the herbaceous part of the plant, making it often the preferred purchase by larger pharmaceutical houses. A list of buyers can be found in the OPD Chemical Buyers Directory, the annual directory for the bi-weekly tabloid "Chemical Marketing Reporter." You might even find occasional articles in that tabloid discussing market trends for this crop.

Your main library should carry both this tabloid and directory in their reference section for your review. Other marketing resources and their addresses are listed in my book The Potential of Herbs As A Cash Crop (under Bulk Marketing). This should also become a primary reference, as address and resources have been updated and expanded.

It is recommend that you obtain a "Certificate of Analysis" (or C/A) on the chemistry. This is a sales tool, often required by most pharmaceutical houses. These cost money, usually as much as $300 for chemistry on a letterhead. There are many laboratories available for this work, but many of them (from my point of view) are not reliable and a waste of money.

MAFCO and Hauser Chemical are primary domestic buyers, with some of the larger manufacturers (like Nature’s Way) using this material for encapsulation. Current markets indicate that the total domestic usage in this form is about 100 tons annually (1999). Of course, the tincture markets are also about this size collectively.

You may find it difficult to compete with domestic Valerian Root, however. The Canadian production looks to be too large, and a possible surplus may result, somewhat like Echinacea purpurea did this last year. Time will tell on that. Your State of Minnesota has other very interesting possibilities for crops, and I am available now as an outside consultant to assist in this venue.

With Martin Bauer’s absorption of Muggenburg last month, the primary world market for this crop will probably be Germany. The world market for this crop in 1987 was estimated by UNCTAD to be just above 1,000 ton annually. Of course, that figure is now probably in excess of 4,200 ton. It all comes down to price (delivered) and quality.

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