EuroMed USA, producer of more than 3,000 tons of high-quality botanical extracts each year for the pharmaceutical, health-food and cosmetics industries, is putting the spotlight on one – saw palmetto – this March.
Sourced from the Florida Everglades, saw palmetto berries are rich with free fatty acids and sterols, and are commonly used to support prostate function. Nearly all of the world's supply comes from Florida, and while there are plenty of berries there now to meet the needs of a growing market, EuroMed wants to ensure it stays that way, said Joe Veilleux, general manager.
"By definition, any botanical is limited in its own way in terms of what Mother Nature can supply," said Veilleux. While saw palmetto isn't endangered, the Glade-iator initiative aims to keep it that way. Partnering with the Everglades Foundation, EuroMed will donate a portion of revenue of each kilo of saw palmetto sold to the foundation, anticipating a minimum donation of $10,000 this year.
To get involved, EuroMed has asked its customers to first agree to a donation to be made in their name. The next step is placing their customers' logos and names on the Glade-iator Web site. Usana was the first company to publicly support the project, with several others in the works. Donations will support the Everglades Foundation's initiatives to protect saw palmetto habitat in the company's harvesting areas, found mostly on the edges of the glades.
"We're into health prevention as opposed to waiting until you get sick," said Veilleux. "This is a proactive way of ensuring the plants are there for a long time for us all to benefit from."
Saw palmetto is one of EuroMed's best selling ingredients, and it's not easy to cultivate, making Glade-iator even more important for a sustainable future. EuroMed has tried to grow the plant in other parts of the world with a similar climate to Florida, but found that it takes seven to nine years before the first crop of berries. Even then, the yields don't make it commercially viable to farm, said Veilleux, unlike one of its other ingredients, milk thistle.
The Glade-iator initiative will formally launch to the press during Natural Products Expo West 2011, but EuroMed encourages anyone involved with saw palmetto – from suppliers to manufacturers to retailers and consumers – to visit www.glade-iator.org now and "join the fight" to preserve the ingredient's natural habitat.
"We see this as an ongoing effort – years, not a two month thing, as long as it seems to make sense for both parties," said Veilleux.