Trust is the strongest currency

The latest news and commentary on the supply side

Marc Brush

Let's talk about trust. In Nutrition Business Journal ’s February 2013 Consumer Research issue, which is swimming with consumer insights and thoughtful scenarios of our possible food futures, one theme keeps leaping off the page for me. We just don't seem to trust anyone, or trust in anything.

Here are just a few of the choicer quotes to be had inside these pages. From Sweden, Peter Wennström offers us this gem: "Too many accepted sources of yesteryear—from experts to politicians to big corporations—have compromised with the truth." Dave Kingsbury, New Hope's very own champion of insights, puts it this way: "Between tainted food, energy drinks and questionable corporate practices, consumers are hesitant to believe anything.” And finally, let's turn to Carla Ooyen, NBJ's research director, with 1,300 consumers at her fingertips. This from a 40-something female in North Carolina —"I go to the websites ... and look at what is known about the brand and product. I trust myself to do the research and make the decisions."

With the great crossover of nutrition products from fringe to mainstream well underway, there's little doubt that consumers are connecting the dots better between food, supplements, lifestyle and health. It's evident in this whole wellness movement on its rapid march through the developed world. It's there in the leapfrogging middle classes of BRIC countries accelerating the natural products adoption curve. It's also complicated by a long-simmering, deeply rooted, disquieting distrust of corporate profiteering and crass capitalism right here in their safest harbor, the USA. If you are a business leader reading this letter, please do note that fewer and fewer consumers have faith in you to do right by them at all.

So supplement executive: How will you buck public perception of your adulterated industry to imbue trust in consumers? And you, organic founder & CEO: How can you truly keep the faith as your industry falls into larger and larger corporate hands? Because the real point here is that trust is the holy grail of business in the years to come, and it's driven by transparent business models finely attuned to consumer need, and most of you aren't there yet.

Consumer researchers have a certain air of ethereal prognostication about them, but collectively, in a forum such as this that surveys the full landscape of insights around health & wellness, they seem to be singing a similar tune. Consumers are hungry for trusted sources that pass their rigorous screens for health, quality and sustainability, but they want to get there on their own.

Don't stand in the way.

-- Marc Brush

Thou shalt not adulterate

A new report from the Journal of the American Medical Association found that dietary supplements account for half of all class-one drug recalls in the United States.

The research, supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, showed that over a nine-year period (2004–2012), 51 percent of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) recalls involved dietary supplements containing unapproved ingredients or drugs. During this period, 465 products were recalled, of which 237 were dietary supplements.

The majority of these supplement recalls occurred after 2008, all of which involved unapproved drug ingredients. It’s unclear if the increase in recalls of supplements is due to an increased number of adulterated supplements, an improvement in detection by the FDA or improved enforcement by the FDA.

According to MedPage Today, the most commonly recalled products were:

  • Sexual-enhancement aids, at 40 percent
  • 31 percent were body-building products
  • 27 percent were weight-loss products

Need for more oversight?

To prevent adulterated dietary supplements in the future, the report called for increasing efforts “to regulate this industry through more stringent enforcement and a standard of regulation similar to that for pharmaceuticals.”

Duffy MacKay, vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, begs to differ, arguing that adulteration is the work of criminals, not industry. "It's not the supplement industry," he says. "It's this fraudulent outlier group that preys on our space. To penalize the supplement industry is just misguided."

-- Brittany McNamara

What's new in supplements

Schiff MegaRed: The benchmark krill product contains 300mg omega-3 krill oil delivering 50mg EPA and 24mg DHA in a heightened absorption matrix thanks to 130mg phospholipids.


Terry Naturally CuraMed: BCM-95 curcumin used in 12 published studies supplies 500mg of pure curcuminoids.


New Chapter Zyflamend: No. 1-selling herbal product in natural product stores features turmeric with 9 other anti-inflammatory botanicals.

CurcuVET-SA50: This one’s going to the dogs – literally. Features curcumin in a phosphatidylcholine phytosomal delivery system for improved absorption.


i-Health Ovega-3: The first vegan omega-3 supplement with not only DHA but also EPA, Ovega-3 is sourced from tank-grown algae, so there’s no worry about sustainability or contaminants.

Sweeteners category in midst of change

The past couple of years have witnessed other significant developments in the sweeteners category:

• Perfection of stevia-flavored products continues. Formulators agree that the solution lies in blending, both with stevia and other sweeteners, and with stevia glycosides and itself. Today’s stevia ingredients combine different parts of the plant’s components together (its steviol glycosides), rather than just focusing on the glycoside Reb A.

• Stevia has achieved remarkable market penetration. According to Nielsen Homescan Panel, stevia products are found in 47 percent of all U.S. households, and half of those products are made with Cargill’s Truvia stevia leaf extract.

* Monk fruit is gaining steam. Also known as luo han guo, it didn’t penetrate the Western world until Procter & Gamble patented a process to extract monk fruit’s sweetening compound, called mogroside V, in 1995. P&G’s patented LHG extract reduces the odor and improves the color found in the fruit itself. The supply market is now dominated by two manufacturers to whom P&G licensed its patent: BioViottoria of New Zealand and Gulin Layn of China. Both companies manage their agronomy and manufacturing operations in Guilin, Guangxi Province, where more than 95 percent of worldwide LHG cultivation occurs. Although operating under P&G’s 1995 patent technology, both companies have made improvements in process development. They offer LHG extracts purified up to 50 percent mogroside V content, providing a sweetness factor about 250-fold higher than sugar.

• Consumers are continuing to turn to lower-calorie beverages. In terms of servings, lower calorie beverages gained 9.5 percent between 2006 and 2011. In terms of share of total sales, lower-calorie drinks claimed 32.4 percent of sales in 2006, versus 34.1 percent of sales in 2011.

Joysa Winter

For the complete business story of trending sweeteners, check out the Nutrition Business Journal/Engredea Monograph edition on sweeteners, a tidy 24-page report on all you need to know.

What They Said

“Health care is becoming increasingly targeted and condition-driven, especially as costs escalate and obesity is running rampant. Manufacturers and health providers will play a critical role in the transition to a more personalized health care delivery, and it’s imperative for channel partners to understand how to best leverage these changes to their optimal benefits.”

– Jeff Hilton, partner and co-founder, BrandHive (formerly Integrated Marketing Group)


“Economically motivated adulteration is the biggest problem the industry has. You have no control of anything out of India or China.”

– Mark Jost, vice president of corporate development, Chromadex


“If you have a program that doesn’t have glucomannan in it, you should have your head examined, because the claims are exceptionally strong.”

– Mark LeDoux, CEO, Natural Alternatives International, a contract manufacturer


Like most things when working with athletes... the science drives the decision making, but the art is how to implement successfully.

– Mark Kovacs @MKovacsPhD

People/companies in the news

Supplement firm hires key account director

Nutrition 21 LLC has brought on Todd Spear as national director of key accounts. Spear will manage key target customers including contract manufacturers, multi-level marketers, direct response accounts, and food and beverage customers. Previously, Spear held the position of senior vice president of product management and development at Whole Health Products LLC. Spear has been integral in new product development, packaging, placement, and marketing, including web-based retail sales and marketing.

Biothera appoints scientific advisor

Joy Dubost, PhD, RD, CSSD, has joined Biothera's board of scientific advisors. In this role, Dr. Dubost will help guide the company in its outreach initiatives to dietitians and food and beverage manufacturers for Wellmune WGP,Biothera’s clinically demonstrated immune health ingredient. Dr. Dubost is president of Dubost Food and Nutrition Solutions LLC, and an expert source of evidence-based information within the food, beverage and nutrition communities. Dr. Dubost earned a doctorate in food science from Pennsylvania State University, a master's in food science from the University of Georgia, and a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Nutrition from Hood College.

Natural Vitamin E earns non-GMO status

Nutralliance has earned non-GMO project verification for SunE900 Natural Vitamin E by The Non-GMO Project. The verification makes the product one of the only non-GMO natural vitamin E sources in the world, from the heart of the most productive oilseeds-growing region of Argentina. The Non-GMO Project Product Verification process and seal assures consumers that a product is free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Mint facilities in Brazil complete expansion

Takasago Flavors has completed upgrades to its mint laboratories and applications facilities in both South America and North America, enhancing the company’s oral care capabilities. Takasago's Brazil facility in Vinhedo, just north of Sâo Paolo, features new laboratory and applications areas that complement the site’s mint flavor compounding facility. The new mint facilities span Takasago's business processes from application labs and a sensory evaluation suite to a dedicated production facility – all at one site.








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