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Supplement brands need to keep workers healthy to meet demand

Pandemic Potential Part 5: Coronavirus has hit supplement manufacturers with a double whammy: high consumer demand and the need to institute new safety policies to keep employees safe and healthy while producing and distributing product.

Rick Polito, Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

April 5, 2020

2 Min Read

Meeting all those demands and making all those sales does not happen in the abstract. Keeping employees healthy is foundational, executives agree. At Wakunaga of America, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Michael Modjeski says safety and sanitation have become primary concerns.

Takeaway: Keeping the workforce healthy could be the biggest challenge for manufacturers.

Products like the company’s Kyolic garlic extracts and probiotic formulations are ideally matched to consumers’ current concerns, and the company can point to science supporting efficacy. The company has seen a “significant spike in demand,” but concern for worker safety is spiking too—those products can’t go out the door if there are not workers on the line, Modjeski explains.

Wakunaga has instituted strict policies that any sign of sickness keeps employees at home and is building contingencies for quarantining shifts if a worker exhibits signs of illness. That keeps cleaning crews busy and everybody on high alert, but it keeps the message simple, Modjeski says. “If you don’t feel good, we don’t want you in. Stay home.”


As soon as the first headlines hit, NOW Foods banned non-essential international travel and insisted on work-from-home self-quarantine for anybody who’d traveled to China, all that before banning travel altogether. At this point, every doorknob and surface is disinfected on a strict schedule. “Washrooms, restrooms, hallways, stairways, doorknobs, two to three times a day our teams are going through,” CEO Jim Emme says.

At AIDP, shifts can’t overlap and cleaning between shifts is rigorous. AIDP President Mark Thurston says the company can’t see an opportunity eclipsed by contagion. Staggered and segregated shifts minimize risk.

“If somebody goes down we just isolate half the work force and not the whole workforce,” Thurston says.

Pandemic Potential Part 5

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About the Author(s)

Rick Polito

Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

As Nutrition Business Journal's editor-in-chief, Rick Polito writes about the trends, deals and developments in the natural nutrition industry, looking for the little companies coming up and the big money coming in. An award-winning journalist, Polito knows that facts and figures never give the complete context and that the story of this industry has always been about people.

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