Nutrition Business Journal

NBJ's 2005 Business Achievement Awards & Executive Review

NBJ Business Achievement Medalists for 2005
Select image to enlarge

Growth in Large Companies
Gold Medal: Direct selling company XanGo for 145% growth in its third year in business, more than doubling 2004 sales and putting the multimillion-dollar company on track to achieve its goal of $1 billion in annual sales by 2009. XanGo has expanded its employees from 14 to nearly 600, its distributor network to hundreds of thousands and its international markets to 13. XanGo markets the nutritional beverage XanGo Juice, which is made from the mangosteen fruit and has surpassed annual sales volumes of such brand icons as Frosted Flakes, Wheat Thins, Converse Shoes and Windex, according to the company.

Silver Medal: GFA Brands for more than doubling sales to $130 million in 2005. GFA’s leading brand is Smart Balance, a portfolio of non-transfat products including spreads, popcorn, peanut butter and pasta sauces sold mostly through mass market grocery. Earth Balance is a similar line sold primarily in the natural & specialty channel. Expansion was supported by a 2004 investment from TSG Partners.

Bronze Medal: Direct seller Mannatech Inc. for growth of 37% in 2005, posting net sales of $288 million for the nine months of 2005 through September 30, a run rate of about $380 million in annual sales. The increase resulted mostly from adding independent associates and members, but also from the launch of Advanced Ambrotose, an immune support supplement, and international expansion including opening operations in Taiwan and notable growth in Denmark.

Bronze Medal: Now Foods, a manufacturer of supplements, health food and natural personal care, for consistently growing at rates more than twice the industry average. In 2005 NOW’s gross domestic revenue exceeded $100 million on double-digit gains for the last five consecutive quarters, and averaged 8.5% growth for the past 11 quarters. Cost management tactics played an important role in returning above-average profits, including direct fulfillment, electronic ordering, limited use of field reps and direct sourcing of materials, the company reported.

Growth in Mid-Size Companies
Gold Medal: Knight-McDowell Labs, maker of Airborne, for one of the fastest selling health products in retail history and proving that a start-up can compete sucessfully against big OTC manufacturers in the cold and cough aisle. Developed by Victoria Knight- McDowell, an elementary school teacher who was tired of catching colds in class and on airplanes, Airborne is an effervescent tablet that combines seven herbs with amino acids, antioxidants and electrolytes. Knight-McDowell sold the first package of Airborne in January 1997. Airborne wholesale sales in 2005 were estimated at $65 million, up from less than $10 million in 2003. Knight-McDowell Labs also received a private investment in 2005.

Silver Medal: Higher Power Inc. for an exceptional record of growth and profitability leading to projected annual sales of $48 million and EBITDA of 10% in 2005, up from sales of $32.5 million in 2004. This robust performance followed on the heels of annual sales of $5.4 million, $10.5 million and $17 million in 2001-03. Gross margins rose to 25% in 2004 from 17% in 2001. Higher Power ranked #230 on the INC. 500 and as the fastest growing private company in Idaho. Higher Power owns, an e-commerce site selling supplements and fitness products, and, which targets athletes, coaches and other sports professionals.

Bronze Medal: Standard Process Inc., a manufacturer of whole food supplements for health care professionals, for record sales of $65 million, up 17% in 2005. The largest sales increase was in body purification products, which grew 26% compared to 2004. This year, Standard Process also focused on ‘mid-selling’ products like Spanish Black Radish and Multizyme, reflected in rises of 29% and 45%, respectively. Standard Process Veterinary Formulas (up 25%) and MediHerb (up 19%) also showed exceptional growth. The company attributed its robust performance to product quality, the health care professionals it serves and growing awareness of nutritional supplementation. The family owned company is now in its 76th year.

Honorable Mention: Europa Sports Products for more than tripling sales since 2000 as a national distributor of sports supplements, beverages and weightlifting accessories. Europa had revenues of over $100 million for 2005, up 14% for the year, and up from $30 million in 2000. Europa opened its fourth location in Strongsville, OH in early 2005, joining locations in Charlotte, NC; Mesquite, TX; and Fresno, CA to supply gyms, health food stores, Internet sites and specialty supplement retailers. Europa started in 1990 and today, it is a distributor of over 150 product lines with over 3,400 sku’s and employs 187 people with a sales staff of experienced competitive bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts, athletes and certified trainers.

Growth in Small Companies
Gold Medal: Canadian supplement company CV Technologies Inc. for 400% growth in net sales to $32 million in fiscal 2005 and $10 million in net after-tax profit after barely posting a profit in 2004. The significant sales increase was generated primarily by CVT’s lead product, COLD-fX, which contains a proprietary extract of poly-furanosyl-pyranosyl-saccharides isolated from North American ginseng. COLD-fX’s patented mechanism of action was developed and standardized using the company’s ChemBioPrint technology.

Silver Medal: Enfission Inc. for the market success of Zipfizz, a effervescent powdered vitamin energy formula emphasizing its B-12 content. Since its launch in 2004 sales have gone from under $5 million in 2004 to around $15 million in 2005 with a realistic target of $30 million in 2006. Zipfizz is sold predominantly through club and convenience channels but is spreading into other mass market sales venues.

Silver Medal: BioNutritional Research Group Inc. (BNRG) for growing revenues by 350+% to more than $7.5 million in 2005. Kevin Lawrence, founder and CEO of BNRG, credited the increase to an extensive sampling program for Power Crunch, the company’s flagship brand of creme-filled, high-protein wafer cookies made using BNRG’s proprietary Micro-Peptide whey hydrolysate Proto Whey protein, which has 300% better absorption compared to other proteins, according to the company. Power Crunch cookies grew sales by 388% to $5.8 million exclusively in the health and fitness channel and are poised for faster growth in FDM channels in 2006. The cookies are designed to appeal to health-conscious adults and parents of children and adolescents seeking nutrient dense, high protein snacks that are a departure from typical, heavy protein nutrition bars. “We went through several formulations until my kids loved the cookies. It’s just like the old commercial, ‘Mikey Likes It’. When I got the thumbs up, I knew we had a winner,” said Lawrence.

Bronze Medal: Pure Fruit Technologies, marketer of Mango*xan, a mangosteen-based nutritional beverage, for surpassing its yearend goal by the end of the third quarter 2005 when it generated revenues of $2.3 million, up 550% from $422,000 in January to October 2004. Founded three years ago, Mango*xan was sold in fewer than 200 stores in 2004 but is carried in several thousand retail outlets today. To meet demand the company increased production from 6,500 bottles a month in 2004 to 52,000 bottles a month in 2005. Pure Fruit Technologies also expanded its staff by 40% this year. Pure Fruit plans to continue its rapid growth by launching several new products early in 2006.

Bronze Medal: Organic Hope Corp. for tripling its sales in 2005 and positioning itself as top manufacturer and distributor of Kalawalla (Polypodium leucotomos extract) worldwide. Polypodium leucotomos is a fern that grows in the Honduran jungles and rainforests and survives the rainy season by growing over the top of palm trees. Ancient Mayans drank tea made from the plant as a blood purifier. Organic Hope markets its extracts for psoriasis, vitiligo, dermatitis and other autoimmune disorders. In accordance with the Rio de Janeiro Biodiversity Protocol it uses only cultivated plants.

Growth in Ingredient Suppliers
Gold Medal: Protient Inc., a leading manufacturer and supplier of membrane filtered whey, soy, and milk proteins, for exceeding $90 million in FY2005 sales, up 38% from 2004. The company attributed its success to hard work, expanded sales distribution channels and penetration into untapped international markets, and said it expects the rapid growth to continue into 2006. Protient expanded its membrane processing technology enabling it to introduce milk protein concentrates and isolates. It also acquired three new manufacturing facilities in 2005, leading to improved utilization of raw materials and lower operating costs.

Silver Medal: Marine Nutriceutical Corp. for growth and innovation in the dynamic category of high quality specialty fish oil and for more than doubling sales in the last two years to $20-30 million. Marine Nutriceutical has special expertise in producing highly purified omega-3 oils that lend themselves to flavored liquids and flavored softgels. The company prides itself on being the “micro brewery” of fish oils, creating custom oils in close collaboration with customers, which include direct marketers, MLMs and leading specialty brands. Marine Nutriceutical’s other marine products include shark liver oils, squalene/squalane and GlycoMarine, an extract of the New Zealand green lipped mussel.

Bronze Medal: Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd. for averaging sales growth over the past three years of 55%, with 84% growth anticipated for 2006. The company has expanded from four employees eight years ago to more than 300 today. Contributing to future growth is a new micro-encapsulation facility in Arcadia Wis., and the addition a micro-encapsulation facility in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Since last year, the MEG-3 brand mark has been placed on packaging such as Costco’s Kirkland Signature Fish Oil Concentrate, The Vitamin Shoppe Fish Oil EPA & DHA, Farmers Choice Milk Beverage, and Cali-Wraps with MEG-3 Tortillas.

Bronze Medal: It was another year of growth and investment for Main Street Ingredients, with 2005 revenues up 32% to $75 million. In 2005, Main Street invested more than $3.6 million, adding 40,000 square feet to its facility, building an R&D Center, adding a new ice cream pilot plant, and installing an advanced blending system. In addition, Main Street became the exclusive marketer for all whey products for Alto Dairy Cooperative, adding roughly 60 million pounds to its portfolio. Main Street manufactures and distributes quality ingredients to the dairy, nutritional and food industries and employs over 110 people.

2005 Stock Performance
Gold Medal: Hansen Natural for consistently phenomenal growth in sales and share price. After a gold medal in 2004 on a price gain of 332%, Hansen shares rocketed another 333% in 2005. In what was generally a mediocre year for major U.S. stock indexes, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 0.6%, the Nasdaq up only 1.4% and the Standard & Poor’s 500 rising just 3%, Hansen Natural gained from a split-adjusted $18.20 per share to end 2005 at $78.81. The stock stayed hot in January, cracking $100 and hitting a new high of $102.21 with an 11% gain on January 13, 2006. Recent performance has no doubt disappointed a number of short sellers that reportedly held as much as 23% of outstanding shares in December 2005. Short selling was likely kicked off by reports circulating that the growth run of energy beverages would soon end and that Coke’s re-entry would cramp firms like Hansen. However, most analysts have reissued higher target and buy ratings in 2006. Hansen’s sales through the third quarter of 2005 were $302 million, up 86% from $162 million in the first three quarters of 2004.

Silver Medal: Gaiam Inc. for posting a 120% share gain in 2005 to end the year at $13.51 and a market cap of $273 million. Gaiam bills itself as a lifestyle media company catering to people who value personal development, natural health and inspirational media. Through three quarters of 2005, Gaiam generated $30 million in revenue compared to $21 million in 2004, a year that was a disappointingly flat for Gaiam and blamed mostly on the transition from VHS to DVD. The 2005 revenue increase was contributed equally by the directto- consumer segment (including and the business segment. The latter sells directly to retailers, and Gaiam products are available in over 25,000 stores including over 4,200 stores with custom-fixture “store-withinstore” lifestyle presentations. Gaiam made some interesting transactions in 2005. During the third quarter Steve Case’s Revolution Living purchased $20 million of Gaiam stock, and Gaiam invested $7.5 million in LIME Media, a TV and radio network. Additionally, Gaiam raised $19 million from the sale of stock to Prentice Capital Management. In September, Gaiam acquired the assets of GoodTimes Entertainment for $35 million in cash. Operating as GT Media the product line includes fitness regimens, children’s & family entertainment and movies and boasts characters such as Benji, Richard Simmons and Felix the Cat. GT Media also describes itself as a “leader in multi-channel marketing and sales — specifically via direct response television (DRTV), distribution to retailers, and the Internet.” Overall, Gaiam expects to generate over $200 million revenues in 2006.

Bronze Medal: Matrixx Initiatives Inc. for an 82% gain in share price in 2005 to reach $21/share and a market cap of $200 million at year’s end. Shares also jumped 10% in early January to hit a new high of $23.45. Although final 2005 financials have yet to be reported, Matrixx expected net sales to be 45-50% above 2004’s figure of $60 million, or approaching $90 million for the year. Matrixx growth has been fueled by the success of its Zicam flu, cold and cough products and the more recent Nasal Comfort line. In addition, in November 2005, Matrixx acquired the assets of Viridian Packaging Solutions LLC, its manufacturer of dry handle swab products for a consideration of roughly $1 million.

Investment in Science & Research
Dietary Supplement Education Alliance (DSEA) for commissioning its second study on health cost savings from supplements. The Lewin Group Inc. looked at omega-3 fatty acids and lutein with zeaxanthin, reporting savings of $3.1 billion and $2.5 billion respectively over five years (2006-2010) as a result of reduced hospitalizations, physicians’ visits, and avoided transitions to dependency. A 2004 DSEA study examined five supplements—calcium +D, folic acid, omega 3 fatty acids, glucosamine and saw palmetto. Estimated savings from calcium supplementation were $13.9 billion over five years and $1.3 billion from folic acid.

Sabinsa for research on ForsLean, its patented extract of Coleus forskohlii root. A study in the August 2005 Journal of Obesity Research entitled “Body Composition and Hormonal Adaptations Associated with Forskolin Consumption in Overweight and Obese Men” confirmed that ForsLean significantly increased lean body mass and decreased body fat percentages. Results revealed an 8.77 lb. total increase in lean body mass in the ForsLean receiving group and a decrease in body fat by 9.96 lb. or 11.2% compared to the baseline. Another study, “Effects of Coleus forskohlii extract supplementation on body composition and markers of health in sedentary overweight females,” was slated for publication in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Jarrow Formulas for a double blind, placebo controlled, randomized clinical investigation of Q-absorb, a highly bioavailable CoQ10 supplement. The Q-absorb trial showed a 300% increase in plasma CoQ10 over baseline and produced interesting results regarding the effect of combined exercise/ supplementation on cardiovascular health in patients suffering chronic heart failure. Other trials sponsored by Jarrow in 2005 included an exploratory pre-clinical study looking at the effect of various forms of selenium, including Methylselenocysteine, on an estrogen-negative human breast cancer line. The study looked at an active cancer treatment model, unlike the traditional prevention formats of other selenium studies. Study results led to a second phase looking at hepatoma, neuroblastoma and colon carcinoma cell lines. Jarrow said it is preparing its findings with a view to publication.

Capsugel for completing expansion of its Licaps manufacturing facility and opening a Liquid Formulation Center to support the development of new dietary supplement formulas. The expansion and new state-of-theart laboratories entailed an investment of more than $3 million. The formulation center will use pharma-based scientific development protocols to formulate dietary supplements into liquid dosage form. The laboratory is housed at SC Bio, a biotech incubator in Greenwood, S.C. “We are committed to helping to advance dietary supplements as a part of a credible, science-based industry,” said Deborah L. Morrison, director of Liquids, America. Scientific protocols have been transferred from the company’s formulation center in Colmar, France.

Efforts on Behalf of the Industry
David Seckman, executive director and CEO of the National Nutritional Foods Assn., for transforming NNFA into one of the most relevant and effective groups in the nutrition industry during his five-plus years of service. He also formed the Coalition to Preserve DSHEA and the Natural Products Foundation. “Because of his political savvy, he has quietly rescued the industry from countless amendments, which would have had results ranging from problematic to disastrous,” stated his nomination. “David Seckman works nights and weekends, travels tirelessly, never seeks recognition or credit, and juggles the jobs of five people—all the time with humor and grace.”

AIBMR Life Sciences for garnering highlevel legislative visibility for the industry by founding the American Preventive Medical Assn. and Citizens For Health—non-profit organizations that were cited by lawmakers in connection with the success of DSHEA legislation. AIBMR has also supported scientific integrity in the industry through its involvement with numerous health organizations, including the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine Advisory Council (AMPAC); the Ad Hoc Developmental Planning Committee of the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS); and the U.S. Pharmacopoeia Convention (USP). AIBMR provides research and regulatory guidance to the nutrition industry.

Personal Achievement
Sam Wright IV, CEO and president of The Wright Group, for assisting in relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. In September he was awarded the Civilian Medal of Honor for Service and Duty by General Russell Honore, the commanding officer overseeing recovery efforts in New Orleans. In addition, despite massive logistical problems on the Gulf Coast created by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, under Wright’s leadership The Wright Group stayed focused on making its transition from a domestic supplier of commodity oriented vitamin premixes into a global, value-added ingredient supplier to the functional food, beverage and supplement industries.

Bonnie Minsky, MPH, LDN, CNS, for going the extra mile for her patients and for her efforts in nutritional education. Minsky has authored two books, “Nutrition In a Nutshell” and “Our Children’s Health: America’s Kids in Nutritional Crisis and What We Can Do to Help.” She co-authored the bill that would license nutritionists in Illinois in 1990, the second of its kind proposed in the United States. Bonnie was honored as the first Licensed Nutrition Counselor in the state. Similar bills have now been passed in most states. Bonnie has appeared on numerous radio and television programs and given hundreds of lectures discussing natural menopause, anti-aging, weight loss and other aspects of nutrition. She currently serves as President and Wellness Director of Nutritional Concepts where she privately counsels.

Environment & Sustainability
Choice Organic Teas/Granum Inc. for dedication to minimizing its environmental footprint. Achievements in 2005 included replacing the company car (averaging 25 miles per gallon) with a model that runs on 100% biodiesel (42 miles per gallon). It also purchased sustainable furniture made with material derived from sunflower husks, and replaced its remaining conventional toilets with low-flow models. Choice Organic Teas recycles an estimated 71% of its total administrative and production waste. This year it won a BEST (Businesses for an Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow) award for Waste Prevention & Recycling from Resource Venture, a partner of the City of Seattle’s Public Utilities and the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

ForesTrade, an organic supplier of sustainably grown organic tropical spices, vanilla beans, essential oils and Fair Trade coffee, for organizing the wild harvest of certified organic ramon nuts in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala. Ramon nuts were a staple food of the ancient Maya civilization and are high in protein, including essential amino acids in addition to vitamins and minerals. The harvest helps preserve the 120-ft tall ramon tree, an essential part of the rainforest canopy. ForesTrade has introduced ramon nuts to several U.S. natural food manufacturers, including Traditional Medicinals, Teeccino Caffé, and Guayaki. ForesTrade is seeking GRAS status for ramon nuts.

Organic India, for leadership in the global movement to promote organic farming and improve the economic and social outlook for small family farmers and their communities. Organic India’s “Market Driven Conservation” business model goes beyond basic Fair Trade practices. Family farmers and herb wildcrafters receive financial support, education and agricultural training and are paid up to four times the market value for their crops. Part of the company’s mission is to introduce organic products to North America, like its herbal Original Tulsi Tea Collection. In recognition of its ethical practices, Organic India was honored with the 2005 Socially Responsible Business Award at the Natural Products Expo East.

Social Responsibility
Vitamin Angel Alliance for organizing vitamin shipments in what turned out to be a very busy Fall 2005. In October Vitamin Angel organized children’s and adult multivitamin shipments to help the Pakistan Earthquake Relief effort. Also by October, the alliance had collected over 18 million vitamin supplements to supply the nutritional component of Katrina Relief. In the same month Vitamin Angel responded to massive flooding in Guatemala, and in September began shipping supplements to Niger to help children affected by famine. Vitamin Angel Alliance is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization dedicated to providing basic nutrition and fighting vitamin A deficiency childhood blindness around the world since 1994.

Organics Unlimited, a San Diego based distributor of organic tropical fruits from Mexico and South America, for setting up The GROW Foundation (Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers), an international outreach initiative with a mission of ensuring that field workers who grow organic produce sold through the company receive fair wages and better living standards. Started with funding from Organics Unlimited and its owners, the program will be sustained through a small per-box surcharge on product marked with the GROW label. Through a partnership with The International Community Foundation monies go to programs where Organics Unlimited works with the growers and buys its organic tropical fruits.

Customer Service and Education
Pharmavite, the manufacturer of Nature Made, Nature’s Resource and OLAY Vitamins, for updating its online site,, thereby yielding sharper insights into consumer and marketing trends. This category management tool allows Pharmavite to gather immediate consumer feedback on product development efforts, health trends and retailer activities—business intelligence used to support retailer programs. The survey database can be analyzed by age, gender, geographic region and retail stores, identifying prospective targets for a new product. (A recent online survey showed consumers 55 years and older account for approximately 53% of VMS sales.) Pharmavite’s category management insights help to enhance retailer support and contribute to increased sales, the company said. For example, in 2005 while category sales declined by 1.2%, Pharmavite brand sales saw a slight increase of 0.4%.

Great Earth Companies (GEC) for developing a training and education program to teach retailers about dietary supplement science and Great Earth products. The program is designed to help retailers understand how to use dietary supplements appropriately, the type of customers who might benefit from them, and the legal framework for presenting products to consumers. The program is delivered primarily via distance learning and has been approved by the International Assn. for Continuing Education and Training in Washington D.C., so GEC can award Continuing Education Units to those who successfully complete the program. Graduates receive a diploma as a Certified Dietary Supplement Specialist (CDSS) and may also pursue advanced and master level CDSS diplomas by pursing additional study offered by GEC.

Pom Wonderful for blazing a new market based on the intrinsic healthiness of pomegranate and for inspiring research into the newly popular fruit. The first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showing that pomegranate juice may affect the progress of coronary heart disease was published in September 2005 in the American Journal of Cardiology. The non-profit Preventive Medicine Research at U.C. San Francisco and the California Pacific Medical Center used Pom juice in the study. Sales are running north of $60 million for the Pom brand of pomegranate juice, according to published market research.

2005 NBJ Product Merit Awards
DMV International for Praventin, a bioactive protein complex rich in fractional components of whey and designed to support a clearer complexion by enhancing the body’s natural defenses. A consumer focus group and test market study with 44 teenagers demonstrated that oral supplementation with Praventin considerably improved skin appearance and visible redness. 85% of America’s 31 million teenagers and young adults have problems with complexion.

Pharmavite for introducing Nature’s Resource TriMune, an immune health supplement combining vitamin C, zinc, echinacea and andrographis, a top-selling herb in Sweden and part of the Chinese and Indian herbal tradition. Pharmavite has positioned TriMune for year-round immune system support based on a recent study from the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease which suggests approximately 30-35% of adults need immune support during early fall, spring and summer, not just in the winter.

Jarrow Formulas for MK-7 Natto K2 (Menaquinone-7 of the menaquinone family), an enhanced, bioactive form of vitamin K extracted from non-GMO soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilus natto and concentrated without solvents. Also for PressureOptimizer with CoQ10 and AmealPeptide for blood pressure regulation. AmealPeptide is a patented extract of hydrolyzed casein that contains two tripeptides (Valyl-Prolyl-Proline, Isoleucyl- Prolyl-Proline).

Pharmanex for Lifepak Nano, a multivitamin that includes nano-carotenoids (betacarotene, lycopene, lutein, etc.) and nano- CoQ10. Pharmanex uses nanotechnology to “wrap” the nutrient molecules, which prevents them from clinging together, creating maximum contact with the GI tract. In a recent study, “nano-ized” CoQ10 was found to be five to 10 times more absorbable than the traditional form, according to the company. (One nanometer is one-millionth of a millimeter.)

Hero Nutritional Products for Yummi Blast, a line of nutrition boosters for children that can be mixed with 16oz of water or eaten straight from the package, similar to a pixie stick. Yummi Blast is available in five formulas: Fruit & Vegetable Concentrate, MultiVitamin, Vitamin C, Probiotic and Immune.

Alpine Pure for launching its artichoke, echinacea and St. John’s wort herbal supplement line in the United States. Swiss-made and regulated, Alpine Pure supplements are made from dried fresh plant juices from whole organic plants grown in Germany and France. Plants are squeezed within three hours of harvest, and the juice is gently vacuum-dried and encapsulated.

Guayaki Sustainable Rainforest Products for rolling out two new yerba mate beverages: the first yerba mate organic energy drinks (16oz iced tea format) and the first yerba mate concentrates (for mate lattes). Guayaki claims to have more than a 60% share of the yerba mate market.

SimplyH Inc. for addressing the need for a nutritious, low-sugar alternative to children’s added-sugar drinks. Toddler Health nutritional drink mix is targeted at children 13 months to 5 years and contains vitamins, minerals, protein, antioxidants, prebiotics, fiber, phytonutrients and DHA/EPA, in addition to the branded ingredients HiOrac, SunActive- Fe, Natureal,Calcilife, Tagatose and Luo Han Guo. Instead of sugar, sodium-free Toddler Health uses low levels of natural sweeteners. The all-natural line comes in non-GMO oat and rice bases in chocolate and vanilla.

Naturally ME Inc. for launching Natural Feast gluten-free pies earlier this year and responding to the needs and desires of millions of consumers with dietary restrictions—not to mention health-conscious dessert lovers. Natural Feast pies are produced in a dedicated production facility with a ‘clean room’ environment (free of wheat and gluten). When possible, fresh blueberries, apples and cranberries are purchased from local farmers. The gluten-free dough is baked using a proprietary production process.

Peeled Snacks for innovative packaging that keeps its mixes of dried fruit and nuts as fresh and as close to natural as possible. Most trail mixes use sugar-coated fruit and oilroasted nuts to prevent moisture moving from the fruit to the nuts. Peeled Snacks packages its dried fruit and dry roasted nuts separately so the fruit stays moist and the nuts stay crunchy without added sugar or fat.

BioLogic Health Solutions for UroLogic, a natural branded ingredient designed to address overactive bladder and incontinence associated with aging and childbirth. U.S. National Association for Continence estimates that 25 million Americans suffer transient or chronic urinary incontinence and spend roughly $5 billion each year on incontinence products. UroLogic contains the Western herb Horsetail, traditionally used to address urinary incontinence, and the Ayurvedic herb Crateva for bladder tone, plus minerals to support nerve transmission.

Embria Health Sciences for a pasteurized, organic selenium yeast ingredient, eXselen, backed by 15 years of research and more than 60 years of proprietary fermentation technology, according to the company. The yeast inoculum, used to make eXselen, produces high levels of selenomethionine, an organic form of selenium that metabolizes rapidly. When ingesting 55mcg of eXselen the body will absorb close to 55mcg compared to less bioavailable, inorganic forms of selenium in which 25mcg or less may be absorbed, Embria reported. The yeast also contains B vitamins and glucans and does not cause Candida or other yeast-related problems.

Sabinsa Corp. for Selenium SeLECT, a branded L-(+)-Selenomethionine compound. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is using Selenium SeLECT for its Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), a 12-year study focused on the role of selenium and vitamin E in the prevention of prostate cancer. NCI is also conducting the Prevention of Alzheimer’s by Selenium SeLECT and Vitamin E (PREADVISE) trial in conjunction with SELECT. A recent study entitled “Effectiveness of selenium supplements in a low-selenium area of China,” published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed Selenium SeLECT to be nearly twice as bioavailable as inorganic forms of selenium.

Renaissance Herbs Inc. for introducing standardized Mangosteen extracts under the XanoMax brand. The rind of the Mangosteen fruit contains a wide range of plant compounds, three of which are associated with antioxidant activity: mangostin (one of many xanthones found in the rind), flavonoids and tannins. XanoMax is standardized to all three compounds, resulting in a line of extracts with very high ORAC values. In vitro tests and ongoing animal and human studies are showing a wide range of potential benefits.

American BioSciences Inc. for the exclusive distribution of Avé from Hungary, the first dietary supplement available in the U.S. with the ingredient Avemar. Avemar is made from wheat germ fermented by baker’s yeast through a patented process standardized for di-methoxy-substituted benzoquinones (DMBQ). Hungarian scientist Dr. Albert Szent- Gyorgyi, recipient of the 1937 Nobel Prize, initiated development of the naturally occurring compound DMBQ, theorizing that it would help regulate cellular metabolism and support immune system regulation. Hungarian scientists later discovered that fermented wheat germ was a perfect source for obtaining standardized levels of DMBQs. Avemar has been the subject of more than 20 peer-reviewed publications and shown to support cell metabolic regulation in vulnerable cells and to promote immune system modulation resulting in both healthy cellular and humoral immune system balance.

OrderDog Inc., a provider of third party business-to-business services to improve supply chain efficiencies in the natural product industry, for its Next Generation iPOS Point of Sale system. The system was revamped to provide a more user-friendly interface and improved sales process functions for independent retailers. The all-in-one unit features a touch-screen and high-speed networking capabilities. The product database automatically updates pricing, product availability, contact information, cost history & averages and UPC and item identification numbers.

HBP/NBJ Deals of the Year Awards for 2005
Select image to enlarge

Nutrition Business Journal and Health Business Partners have cooperatively tracked merger & acquisition activity in the nutrition industry since 1996, but 2005 is the first year in which we singled out deals for commendation. It was indeed a busy year for M&A and financing activity. In a very competitive Dietary Supplements category the gold medal goes to Summit Partners for its investment in Airborne, marketers of the popular effervescent cold and flu prevention supplement. Silver goes to Hong Kong based CK Life Sciences for its $40-million acquisition of Sante Naturelle a Canadian supplement brand with $44 million in sales, followed by bronze for a new move into the sector by a mainstream healthcare investor, Polaris Ventures, which acquired multi-channel supplement company Botanical Laboratories.

In Natural & Organic Foods, PepsiCo’s acquisition of the $90- million Stacy’s Pita Chip Company in the natural snacks category received top recognition for a strategic move that is a solid statement about Pepsi improving the nutritional profile of its portfolio. Runners up were Cadbury Schweppes for purchasing the $40- million Green & Black’s in a $40-million transaction that brought both category validation and a large global player into the organic chocolate business. Also credited in this category was frequent contender Hain Celestial Group, this time for its $33-million acquisition of the $50-million organic oils and supplements company Spectrum Organic Products.

In the busy Natural Personal Care segment, a gold medal goes to Harvest Partners and the management team at Natural Products Group LLC (formerly Levlad and Arbonne). Through two 2005 recapitalizations they have have already turned a $93-million investment in December 2004 into $200 million returned to the investors. Silver goes to L’Oreal’s acquisition of Skinceuticals, a maker of antioxidant skin care products. Bronze is awarded for the $408-million recapitalization of MD Beauty Inc. (Bare Escentuals) in October by Berkshire Partners and JH Partners. It was MD Beauty’s third recapitalization in the last two years, and both firms returned to their investors an additional approximately 145% of the equity capital invested in an earlier transaction, bringing the total capital returned to approximately 245% of capital invested.

In the somewhat quieter supply chain segment, the gold medal goes to Cargill for its synergistic $660-million acquisition of the Degussa Food Ingredients business that included the bioactives unit. Silver goes to French botanical supplier Naturex for its $37- million purchase of the North American botanical supplier Pure World, which had sales of around $30 million. The $2-billion distributor United Natural Foods Inc. earns bronze for buying $20-million Roots and Fruits, which will operate under wholly owned subsidiary Albert’s Organics Inc. Roots and Fruits is a Minnesota- based organic wholesale distributor of fresh produce to approximately 500 customers in the upper Midwest region.

In the cross-cutting category of best roll-up, Atrium Biotechnologies receives a gold medal for its $90-million acquisition of HVL/Douglas Laboratories in December 2005. This strongly reinforced Atrium’s bid to take a dominant position in the practitioner sales channel for supplements (Atrium also owns Pure Encapsulations). The Atrium deal only narrowly beat two very strong deals led by private equity firm Charterhouse Group, which bought the Amerifit (Estroven) platform in April 2005, followed by the $45-million add-on acquisition of $17-million manufacturer Polymedica in October, starting the company’s transition from a supplements foundation into the broader consumer healthcare segment. Also of note was Charterhouse’s bread and bakery roll-up of Vermont Bread, Adams Bakery and Rudi’s Organic Bakery to create a leader in natural & organic baked goods.

About this issue: Every year NBJ solicits senior executives in the nutrition industry to submit bylined articles and participate in Q&A interviews for our Executive Review issue. Opinions and assertions expressed in the content reflect those of the respondents and not NBJ.

Separately, NBJ solicited the industry via email, website and word of mouth for nominations for the NBJ awards. Awards were determined by an internal committee of NBJ staff and NBJ editorial advisory board members. The 2005 NBJ awards will be presented in a special ceremony at the NBJ Newport Summit in Dana Point, Calif., July 26-28, 2006. Awards disclaimer: Company audits were not conducted to verify information or claims submitted with nominations.