‘Proprietary,' however, is a buzzword and is the root to our complacency as an issue for the lack of transparency in supplements.

Elan Sudberg, CEO

March 17, 2015

2 Min Read
Transparency is NOT just another buzzword

Buzzwords fill every industry, and while they grab the attention of the consumer, they are not enough to generate repeat sales. More than ever, we as an industry have to walk our talk. A product must be the highest quality in therapeutic amounts in order for consumers to realize the benefits they expect to continue purchasing them. However, if an industry is tarnished as a whole, then we may never have a chance even for those initial sales. And make no mistake – our industry is now tarnished.

As the attacks, justified or not, on the dietary supplement industry continue to be launched, consumer doubt in our products is on the rise. Just read the blogs or the comments under media coverage of the attacks — the tone of which has become ominous. Consumers are losing trust in our industry, and once trust is lost it’s nearly impossible to get it back.

So how do we combat a shift in consumer trust? We transform it with best practices and full transparency at every step in the chain of custody. Tell consumers about your ingredient sourcing and your testing, including where, how and why it’s done.

Don’t wait for the subpoenas or the FDA; show your cards before you are asked. I’m talking the full monty. My vision is that a product’s label can be referenced on a mobile friendly website so that the consumer can take a bottle in hand in store, visit your website, type in the lot number on that bottle and see each and every C of A for each and every ingredient listed. It doesn’t matter if they can interpret an HPTLC ID report proving that green tea leaf is in the product or an HPLC proving the caffeine content. What matters is that consumers have the option to know and in turn feel comfortable buying and returning to buy your product.

What’s great about this vision is that such data should already be available. It’s just not shared. The cost should be only web development (and hopefully not an increase in testing). If it’s the latter, then be prepared to talk to the plaintiff’s attorneys who are on their way. Not having a robust testing program in place in this day and age is just plain irresponsible.

Here is a buzzword that needs to take a long walk off a short pier: ‘Proprietary.’ This word needs to go. It is the root to our complacency as an issue for the lack of transparency. It’s time to take quality out of the closet and proudly wear it on your sleeve.

What else needs to happen in supplements to avoid losing more consumer trust?

About the Author(s)

Elan Sudberg

CEO, Alkemist Labs

Élan M. Sudberg is CEO of Alkemist Labs, a passionately committed contract testing laboratory specializing in plant and fungal identity, potency and purity testing for the food, beverage, nutraceutical and psychedelic industries. His favorite part of his job is catching cheaters, and he is known for pushing the industry to continually raise the bar on quality and transparency. Élan holds a degree in chemistry from California State University Long Beach, and he is on the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) board of trustees.

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