"The world is our backyard" might well be the motto for herbal-extracts supplier Naturex, headquartered in Avignon, France.
Naturex is one of the world's largest suppliers of its kind, with manufacturing facilities in France, Morocco, the United States and Italy, as well as eight sales offices located in Europe, the US and Asia.
Part of being a world citizen, says Antoine Dauby, Naturex's group marketing manager, is interacting positively with the communities that are the source of its products. "We demonstrate solidarity with the communities around our sites through a wide variety of global and local community programmes. This is why we opened our corporate foundation last year, supporting education, medicine and basic necessities in communities where we source plant materials."
For example: "We go in the area of Ninacaca on a regular basis, in the central Peruvian Highlands. In this remote area, the Naturex Foundation projects are driven to improve care access, education and means of communication for the local community," Dauby says. As a member of the United Nations Global Compact, he says, "we are committed to respecting and promoting human rights, labor standards and the environment."
Dauby says the strategy has paid off. "There is a continuous demand for exceptional plants from geographical niches like the Amazon or North Africa. "Our clients are enthusiastic for new product development and always ask for new ideas. For instance, Cat's Claw has a tremendous potential. It has been used since ancient times by the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest for the prevention and cure of many diseases. We are working to establish a program for Cat's Claw similar in scope to our maca programme in Peru.
However, the future is not without its challenges," Dauby says. "There are legislative issues, building consumer loyalty and developing more innovative products. Consumers are becoming more informed and making better use of that information, so educating consumers on the health benefits of nutraceuticals remains among the top priorities."
To be effective, a company must have the ability to communicate a specific health benefit associated with an ingredient, Dauby says. "Herbal categories for cognitive performance, weight loss and diabetes will grow steadily. The sheer number of people turning to herbs will push the category very far. And I believe there is a huge opportunity to take the authenticity of botanical extracts to the next level by supporting socially responsible initiatives in product development."
All of this is meaningless, though, if the quality isn't there, he says. "Consumers are increasingly looking for clean labelling and authenticity. Right now a lot of herbs on the market are not what they say they are. Therefore, we make QA and QC priorities. We control all the stages of the manufacturing process, from raw materials to final extracts.
"Our testing procedures are the toughest in the business. In addition, we implement new technologies that raise the bar in critical areas of quality control, safety, efficacy and physical characteristics of ingredients," Dauby says.