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Searching for a standout ingredient at SupplySide West 2011

Searching for a standout ingredient at SupplySide West 2011

I’m back from a whirlwind day at SupplySide West 2011 in Las Vegas, and boy did that show have everything: big booths, small booths, omega-3-laced chocolates, flavors, excipients, kiwi extracts, magicians (magicians?), chromium, piano players, champagne toasts, media kits, yeast.

That is, the show had everything except for what I was really hoping for: a new, unique, unparalleled ingredient that I could get really excited about.

Don’t get me wrong, more soluble forms of D2 and new food applications for glucosamine are great. They help keep the embers of growth alive in functional food and supplements. But category-defining or redefining innovation was unfortunately absent, and instead I saw everybody jumping on the vitamin K2 bandwagon or fishing for every possible source of omega-3s on Earth, from anchovies to chia to squid.

Ingredient suppliers seem to be thinking too broadly, formulating products with endless applications. Remember though, specificity sells.

On that note, I did see one ingredient with intriguing potential (and I’m sure there was more than one; the trouble with tradeshows is that they’re enormous) from InterHealth Nutraceuticals. It’s called Zychrome, a non-picolinate chromium ingredient that shows profound promise for diabetes management. But no one’s biting yet.

Here’s the trouble: diabetes management has yet to take off in a major way on the supplement side because mass market retailers and drugstores tend to separate their supplement aisles and their diabetes aisles. Diabetes management already has its share of OTC and Rx products. It’s a problem of getting those natural options into the right aisle. Walmart buyers don’t take natural tradeshows as seriously as natural retailers, but it’s likely that most people with type 2 diabetes aren’t shopping in natural food stores to begin with.

Little hurdles like these may hinder initial sales, but they shouldn’t hinder innovation. My thinking is, know your audience and get specific. That’ll make it easier to sell to marketers.

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