Carlson Labs continues family tradition with natural vitamin E

Carlson Labs continues family tradition with natural vitamin E

Carilyn Carlson Anderson, president of Carlson Labs, began her career with the company founded by her parents John and Susan Carlson as a sales rep in 1992. After assuming other roles through the years, she joined the board of directors in 2003, and was named president in 2010.

Fi: You mentioned an impending Vitamin E Shortage. What’s going on?

CCA: The Drought in the Midwest is a frightening subject. We have been hearing on the news how the lack of water affects the beef, the soy, and even cheese. What we haven’t heard is how it is affecting our industry. It takes 17 acres of soybean plants to make 1 kg Vitamin E. The plowing under of the soybean plants due to drought, means less oil for supplements. The oil will first be used in other industries, such as food, animal feed before it reaches the supplement industry. The price of Vegetable oil distillate is skyrocketing as the supply diminishes. The drought currently happening in the Midwest will affect the sourcing for natural source vitamin E. There is already a shortage of the distillate due to the food industry taking more of the supply. We have already been offered synthetic vitamin E in product combinations, as vitamin E is used as an antioxidant in many vitamin multiples. I expect with the rising costs and lack of supply, we will see mislabeling of vitamin E, undefined tocopherols, and synthetic vitamin in natural supplements. Carlson was founded on natural source vitamin E, Key-E being our first product. Now science recognizes natural source vitamin E is twice as active in the body as synthetic source vitamin E. We will strive to keep natural source vitamin E in our product line.


Fi: Carlson is one of the few family run, privately owned supplement companies left in the industry. Can you talk about the advantages and disadvantages of that?

CCA: From the business perspective, my sister and I love to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. With our key personnel we can move faster, and make quicker decisions than other companies whose duties are specialized. The decisions are made upon our science and our beliefs, with a small group of key people. We don’t have to answer to financiers or explain the decisions that were made—we made them ourselves as a team. I’ve known some employees my entire life, or I should say they have known me. Literally, they have watched me toddle around the office in infant shoes. From a personal perspective, we love being able to continue along the journey that my parents started on so many years ago, being able to continue the legacy through Carlson Laboratories has been extraordinarily fulfilling. 


Fi: What was it like for you growing up in the natural products industry?

CCA: Being a kid in this industry, I got to try all sorts of fun unusual foods. I remember some of the brand names that I don’t see in the market today—Ginseng Rush Soda and natural nectar ice cream. I was sampling and bringing these products to school in my homemade lunches; foods that none of my classmates had seen before. My kids have been exposed to natural products and foods but the attitude around these items have changed. Now kids in the schools are more exposed to rice cakes and carrot juice. My children’s friends have food allergies, the schools are more aware, society as a whole is educated on natural foods. This is a good thing, having healthy organic natural foods available for the kids.

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