Dietary Supplement Supply Chain Update: Creatine and Citrulline are getting out of control.

As you already know from my previous updates, there is a global shortage of creatine monohydrate, and supply of raw material to manufacturers is virtually nonexistent right now. Warehouses are bare, and even brands that have contracted in advance are having a difficult time getting their shipments on time.

With supply so low and booming demand, the price per kilo has almost tripled from what it was back in April. There is virtually no creatine on the market for purchase, and the limited inventory coming in from the three major Chinese manufacturers is already contracted for. So if you don’t have a confirmed PO for creatine monohydrate at this time, it might be the end of September to October before you will be able to lock any up.

There are several factors causing this shortage. COVID and the overall logistics issues with shipping delays and container shortages are only a small part of it. Some believe the trade war is responsible for many of the current shortages of goods and that China is purposely creating these shortages to increase demand to drive up prices. Beyond these overriding issues that are affecting all goods, the creatine monohydrate shortage is caused by major problems unique to the manufacturing of creatine itself.

The raw materials used to manufacture creatine monohydrate are in short supply. There are three main manufacturers of creatine in China: Yongan, Baosui, and Hengkang. Yogan controls hydroxy acetonitrile (HAN), which is a component used to manufacture creatine. HAN is produced from natural gas, which creates excessive pollution, so the Chinese government has demanded a reduction in its manufacture.

Hengkang controls cyanimide production, another major component used in manufacturing creatine. Calcium carbide, used to produce cyanimide, is in short supply because it is also a heavy pollutant and uses extensive amounts of energy, so China has reduced its production as well. To worsen matters, calcium carbide is a key component used in manufacturing PVC. PVC production is at an all-time high, which further tightens the supply of calcium carbide.

You get the picture: there are many complex issues at play here, all of which would have to be resolved before creatine monohydrate supply is normalized. This won’t happen anytime soon, and we can expect the creatine market to continue as is until at least the end of 2021, some think as far as Q2 2022. There are factors that may prolong the creatine mess even further out. How China deals with their energy crisis, how strongly they enforce their anti-pollution regs and the shutdown of factories for their New Year vacation, will all exacerbate the shortage and may push the cost per kilo to $25 or even higher.

 On the retail spectrum, several brands have already increased pricing, and many have temporarily taken it off the market. NutraBio planned for this last year so we’re stocked.

Citrulline is now tightening up, and some manufacturers are booked out past August. CJ, the most significant player in the citrulline market, has had production problems, so their supply has been unstable since December. Rumor has it that a massive order of citrulline malate was placed with Wuhan Grand Hoyo. They manufacture citrulline but had to outsource to cover the order. This in turn caused other manufacturers to fall behind. These disruptions are rippling through the supply chain, causing delays and price increases.

Tyrosine and taurine supply is fairly stable, but prices are increasing as well.

By: Mark Gazier
NutraBio Labs, Inc
CEO & Founder

Other Supply Chain Updates by Mark Glazier

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