Phytochemistry Reviews

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 727–743 | Cite as

Nutritionally important carotenoids as consumer products

  • Judit Berman
  • Uxue Zorrilla-López
  • Gemma Farré
  • Changfu Zhu
  • Gerhard Sandmann
  • Richard M. Twyman
  • Teresa Capell
  • Paul Christou


Carotenoids are nutritionally-beneficial organic tetraterpenoid pigments synthesized mainly by plants, bacteria and fungi. Although research has focused on the production of carotenoids in staple crops to improve nutritional welfare in developing countries, there is also an enormous market for carotenoids in the industrialized world, where they are produced both as commodities and luxury goods targeted at the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, food/feed additive, cosmetics and fine chemicals sectors. Carotenoids are economically valuable because they have diverse bioactive and chemical properties. Some are essential nutrients (e.g. β-carotene), others are antioxidants with specific roles (e.g. lutein and zeaxanthin) or general health-promoting roles that reduce the risk or progression of diseases associated with oxidative stress (e.g. lycopene), and still others are natural pigments (e.g. astaxanthin, which is added to fish feed to impart a desirable pink flesh color). Even carotenoid degradation products, such as damascones and damascenones, are used as fragrances in the perfumes industry. Here we discuss the importance of carotenoids in different market sectors, review current methods for commercial production and its regulation, summarize the most relevant patents and consider evidence supporting the health claims made by different industry sectors, focusing on case studies representing the most commercially valuable carotenoids on the market: β-carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin and astaxanthin.


Health claims Intellectual property Market production Nutraceuticals Regulation 



Compound annual growth rate


Carotenoid β-ring 4-dehydrogenase


Carotenoid isomerase


Dimethylallyl diphosphate


Dietary supplement health and education act


European food safety authority


Food and drug administration


Geranyl geranyl diphosphate


Geranyl geranlyl diphosphate synthase


4-Hydroxy-β-ring 4-dehydrogenase


β-Carotene hydroxylase


Isopentenyl diphosphate


Lycopene β-cyclase


Lycopene ɛ-cyclase


Methylerythritol 4-phosphate


Pytoene desaturase


Phytoene synthase


United States patent and trademark office


Vitamin A deficiency


ζ-Carotene desaturase


ζ-Carotene isomerase



Research at the Universitat de Lleida is supported by the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Grants No. BIO2011-23324, BIO02011-22525, PIM2010PKB-0074, European Research Council IDEAS Advanced Grant Program (BIOFORCE) (to PC); ERC-2013-PoC 619161 (to PC); European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST Action FA0804); and RecerCaixa.

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Supplementary material

11101_2014_9373_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1014 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 1013 kb)
11101_2014_9373_MOESM2_ESM.docx (11 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 11 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judit Berman
    • 1
  • Uxue Zorrilla-López
    • 1
  • Gemma Farré
    • 1
    • 2
  • Changfu Zhu
    • 1
  • Gerhard Sandmann
    • 3
  • Richard M. Twyman
    • 4
  • Teresa Capell
    • 1
  • Paul Christou
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEAUniversity of Lleida-Agrotecnio CenterLleidaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Metabolic BiologyJohn Innes CentreNorwichUK
  3. 3.Biosynthesis Group, Molecular BiosciencesJohann Wolfgang Goethe UniversitätFrankfurtGermany
  4. 4.TRM LtdYorkUK
  5. 5.Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis AvançatsBarcelonaSpain

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