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New science fuels sales for botanical extractors

New ingredients backed by potent scientific findings are fueling sales in the U.S. for leading botanical extract companies. Up-and-coming extracts in the U.S. marketplace include green tea, astaxanthin, cranberry seed oil and omega-3 fatty acids sourced from vegetables. In addition, some extractors are investing in new science in hopes of revitalizing sales of already well known herbs.


While the market remains sluggish for many of the 10 most popular herbs, suppliers report that prices of some herbal ingredients are now on the rise due to stabilization of inventories and a European drought that has resulted in shortages of certain crops.

Below, three leading botanical extractors offer their perspectives on the U.S. market for botanical ingredients in dietary supplements, foods and cosmetics.

Martin Bauer Invests in Science and New Formulas "On the herbal side, the industry has been shrinking or slightly flat," said Stefan Wypyszyk, vice president of MB North America, a division of the Martin Bauer Group. But he added, "There are some high points. The diet category and sports nutrition are areas that have seen good growth."

Wypyszyk cited green tea extract and rhodiola rosea as examples of botanicals with strong growth potential. "We completed a human clinical trial on rhodiola rosea this year," he noted. "We found that you could cycle longer and endure pain longer. This proves that it is an adaptogen that helps you adapt to stress," he said, adding that several other products in the adaptogen category also have good market potential.

Look for more novel ingredients on the market in 2004, Wypyszyk predicted, citing starch blockers (bean extracts) and omega-3 fatty acids sourced from vegetables as examples. But MB North America is also investing in omega-3s from fish. We just signed an exclusive distribution agreement for North America with NuMega of Australia, he disclosed. They have a high concentration DHA omega 3 fish oil. While NuMegas focus in the past has been in foods and infant formulas, the new deal enables NuMega to utilize MB North Americas distribution network to sell its product in the U.S. supplement market.

Two years ago, Martin Bauer opened an office in California to begin direct distribution in North American of products manufactured by the Martin Bauer Group and Finzelberg. "Weve seen growth as a result of gaining market share, not growth in the marketplace," Wypyszyk noted.

The raw material supplier base has continued to consolidate over the past year. This is evident in the purchase of QBI by Health Sciences Group, the completion of the Hauser bankruptcy and PureWorlds recent move to hire Adams, Harkness & Hill to explore possible sale or merger of the company.

Wypyszyk believes consolidations are likely to continue. "From the raw material supplier base, its safe to say that there are still too many raw material suppliers out there," he noted. New bioterrorism legislation and GMP requirements are likely to have a significant long-term impact on distributors, he added. "It will be very difficult to be a distributor in the industry long term."

While companies with control over their raw materials through cultivation, cooperative farming efforts and a strong relationship with wild crafters should be well-positioned to survive, others may be less fortunate. "We will continue to see attrition through bankruptcies, mergers and exiting the business, he predicted, adding, I think that will be the big trend in the coming year or so in the raw material end. Also, you will see more vertical integration."

Wypyszyk finds the recent bankruptcy of Twinlab (since purchased by Ideasphere) to be troubling. They were a manufacturer, but consolidation on that level still affects raw material suppliers, he observed. When you have someone the size of a Twinlab who cant make it, its very scary." The sale of Rexall to NBTY further indicates that we will continue to see consolidation at all levels of the value chain, he noted.

Fortunately for the industry, consumers are demonstrating more acceptance of preventative healthcare and use of supplements, Wypyszyk said. "However, I do see the focus and purchase point has continued to shift away from the mass and shift back to the health food segment and the practitioner segment," he added. The shift means more emphasis on quality and a more educated sales force to provide information to consumers-factors likely to help drive sales in the future.

The U.S. market for core commodity items (the top 10 best-selling herbs) will remain flat or have single-digit growth in 2004, Wypyszyk predicted. Industrywide, the top 10 commodity herbs include echinacea, garlic, ginkgo, saw palmetto, ginseng, St. Johns wort, green tea, milkthistle, black cohosh, valerian and soy, Wypyszyk said, followed by grapeseed, cranberry, goldenseal, psyllium and others.

"St. Johns wort, green tea, valerian and Panex ginseng are among our top products," said Wypyszyk, adding that sales for most of the top 20 botanicals have been fairly stable over the past year. But he said, "We are still seeing St. Johns wort falling. Echinacea and even the ginsengs arent as strong as they were." He attributed the decline to negative media, the economy and contraction due to mass marketers allocating less shelf space.

By contrast, demand has increased for other botanical extracts. "Black cohosh definitely is increasing with all the negative media about prescription hormone replacement," he noted, adding that black cohosh sales have risen approximately 10% in the past year. "Milk thistle is another that continues to grow slowly and quietly."

Strongest growth has been in green tea, with growth driven by increased awareness of antioxidant benefits as well as by demand for an alternative to ephedra in weight loss products. "A lot of people switched to green tea in diet formulas because of science behind catechins and caffeine," Wypyszyk noted. "It's become one of our top products. We've definitely seen double-digit growth of green tea."

While the weight loss category should continue to grow, the category's future lies not in ephedra-like substances which would likely have similar side effects, Wypyszyk believes. "People need to look at other aspects besides metabolism, such as appetite suppression, starch blocking ingredients, to help people manage weight."

Finzelberg, a Martin Bauer company, is currently supporting a clinical trial in Europe on a new product called Thin Appeal, with results anticipated early this year. The multi-herbal product takes a multi-pronged approach with green tea (a diuretic and appetite suppressant), asparagus (a diuretic) and bean extracts (starch blockers). "We'll be doing a second study, also in Europe," Wypyszyk added. Thin Appeal will be on the market "soon" as a bulk raw material for manufacturers, he added.

To market new novel ingredients backed by science, Finzelberg has introduced a new umbrella brand, Nutrifin. "Under it, we are marketing several concepts," Wypyszyk explained. Those include Thin Appeal for weight management, Nutrifin Circulation (bear's oil and olive oil for heart health), and Nutrifin Relax (extracts and aromatic components including hops, oats and Melissa balm). "The concept is take it as a lozenge to help you relax, " Wypyszyk said of the latter. "We are planning a clinical study using a brain wave study to see the effects." Other products under the Nutrifin brand include Nutrifin Energy (with Rhodiola rosea extract) and Nutrifin Motion (for joint health; actives include extracts from celery, licorice and ginger, a Cox2 inhibitor).

"We just launched them at a show in Europe six weeks ago," Wypyszyk said of the Nutrifin line, adding that interest has been significant. Following a blitz of press releases to trade journals, the Nutrifin line will be featured in January issues of "most magazines here in the U.S.," he added.

Worldwide, The Martin Bauer Group derives approximately $400 million in annual revenues from sales of whole botanical material, herbal powders, teas and extracts. "In the U.S. it is a very splintered marketplace," Wypyszyk noted. With no clear market leader in terms of market share, competitors have tended to carve out areas of specialization-for instance, Sabinsa specializes in products of Indian origin, while MB North America focuses on products of European origin. "Our main focus is on herbal products that are primarily sourced and grown in Europe, as well as the other products on the top 10 list. Our best selling commodity products are those top 10," said Wypyszyk, citing garlic as the sole exception. "Garlic is a good product for us in Europe, however we don't participate in it in the U.S."

To maintain a competitive edge in the commodity side of the market, MB North America invests in quality through scientific testing of raw materials and finished extracts, as well as testing for pesticides, heavy metals and proper species identification on raw materials. For the non-commodity side, the company is investing heavily in branding its concepts and supporting them through clinical trials. "Our main focus is branding to our customer and not the end consumer," Wypyszyk said. "Our focus is really on being a bulk raw material supplier of ingredients."

In the U.S., MB North America is focused primarily on supplying raw materials to the dietary supplement industry. "Secondary for us is the food industry," Wypyszyk noted, adding that Plantextrakt USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Martin Bauer Group, focuses on the beverage industry and to a lesser extent, the food industry. "I think we'll see demand continue to grow on the beverage side for certain ingredients," he added.

Wypyszyk also sees growth opportunity in the food segment, but cautioned that large food companies tend to be very averse to risks and require long lead times from concept to implementation. "I do think we'll see more nutritional supplements being added into foods," he predicted, adding that growth areas include antioxidants and food ingredients that create high fiber content.

A significant change in the past year has been a rise in pricing for herbal raw materials. "We will continue to see price pressures from both China and Asia based on different cost structures and models, but overall we are seeing prices move up," said Wypyszyk. "The excess inventories around for so many years have been exhausted. We also are seeing prices from China move up," he added, citing milk thistle and ginkgo billoba extract as examples. "On milk thistle, there has been so much demand that it has exhausted supply."

Last summer's drought and extreme heat throughout Europe also impacted the market. "It had a significant effect, especially on aerial (leaf and stem) plants," Wypyszyk said. "In some cases, 60% of crops actually withered and died in the field." Hardest hit crops include lemon balm and elderberry. While crops will likely replenish next year if weather conditions are favorable, this year's shortages will create a "significant increase" in prices of the affected crops short-term.

Overall, Wypyszyk predicted that raw material prices for commodity herbs will continue to move up in 2004. In addition to a dwindling of past oversupply, he cited a breakdown in the network of wildcrafters as a key factor. "Because of loss of demand, they've gone elsewhere for income," he noted. As demand rises again for key herbs, financial incentives will be necessary to entice people to leave other jobs and return to wildcrafting. These incentives, when incorporated into pricing, will also drive up pricing in raw materials.

Costs of complying with GMPs and new bioterrorism is also likely to drive up prices of extracts-in turn raising costs of finished goods. Although thus far filing paperwork to comply with bioterrorism regulations has gone smoothly, Wypyszyk noted that extra man hours will likely be required to obtain clearance on imported materials. "We think it will add to the cost of bringing in materials," he predicted, adding, "Most recently, we've heard that the computer software they are going to use to handle additional information required by bioterrorism regulation is not even finalized -and they are going right into using it. We hope it's like Y2K where everyone panicked and it actually went very smoothly, but we'll see."

Yet another potential hurdle could be changes in the regulatory arena, such as proposed amendments to DSHEA. "What happens in the next presidential election could have an effect on what happens to regulations of dietary supplements overall," he warned, adding, "If George Bush does get reelected, there will continue to be pressures for changes on the industry."

Asked to identify the greatest challenges and opportunities for the future, Wypyszyk replied, "Those go hand in hand." The biggest challenge, he believes, is to go beyond serving as a commodity supplier to become a truly innovative company bringing novel ingredients and solutions to customers. "For us," he concluded, "that's the key to long-term success."

Indena Enhances Bioavailability of Top Botanicals Indena USA is investing heavily in science to develop new, efficacious products. "Indena is a science-driven company. We have approximately 700 employees-and 100 of them are scientists," said Ed Croom, scientific and regulatory affairs manager at Indena USA.

In addition to conducting research and development in-house, Indena is supporting clinical trials of its products. The National Institutes of Health has selected Indena's saw palmetto extract for use in a multi-center trial in 11 centers over the next six years. The study will examine the effects of saw palmetto supplementation on benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). "We already have a number of clinical trials in Europe supporting our extract because of safety, purity and efficacy," added Greg Ris, vice president of sales for Indena.

In another study, researchers at the University of Washington are testing Siliphos, a compound of soy phospholipids and Silibin, on patients with hepatitis C.

Indena has developed Phyposome, a trademarked technology, for the dietary supplement industry. "We take the active principal of a certain plant and we enhance the bioavailability by taking the active of, say, ginkgo billoba and combining it with soy phospholipids to create a new complex," said Ris. "It acts as a carrier to deliver more of the active principal to the targeted site. We have this in six or seven products, and we have more in development now."

Phyposome technology improves absorption ability by providing the most active compound in a specific botanical. "That's real important when you're using things like milk thistle for liver disease," Croom observed.

Indena has maintained its commitment to science even though the financial reward for scientific investment isn't always evident. "A much larger element in this industry would prefer to buy something comparable but less expensive," noted Ris.

Croom added, "There's not a lot of reward for science in this industry. It does not translate into sales because there is no substantial guidance from the FDA on what is required for the type and level of evidence to make a structure-function claim.... The thing that will make the biggest difference for this industry is to have a consensus on the type and level of evidence that stands behind these claims." Industry should be working on developing those standards, he suggested. "I think it's critical." Asked if scientific investment would pay off once standards are adopted, Croom replied, "Absolutely. That's why it's the number one priority."

Already, investing in scientific research has paid off for some products. Croom cited extracts of saw palmetto, bilberry, ginkgo, grapeseed, ginseng and milk thistle as examples. "The reason these are better selling products is because there is clinical evidence to support them," he said. Not all herbs have fared as well. "St. John's wort continues to slide," noted Ris. "I don't know if that will ever return."

Industrywide, ephedra weight-loss substitutes such as green tea are on the upswing, but thus far Indena has not jumped onto the bandwagon. "We do not have a major weight loss product at this time," said Ris. While Indena is conducting research in the weightloss area, the company takes a conservative, safety-first approach, he added.

Nor has Indena delved into the functional food market to date. "The functional food market is something that Indena has been looking at, but the challenge there is we know our products are active," Ris noted. "Functional foods rarely put a therapeutic level in, so it's mainly window dressing. Second, you have an investment in GRAS (generally recognized as safe). I don't think our products lend themselves to the functional food market."

Croom observed that there is even less regulatory guidance for functional foods than for supplements in terms of safety and stability. "There is even less consensus in the industry," he added. He cited as an example a ginkgo extract shown effective in clinical trials, but added, "Has anyone has anyone done a human trial on ginkgo chips?" Stability is another issue, particularly in foods that are baked. "We just don't have anything to guide us," he said. "The rules of the game are going to have to change." Ris is equally skeptical. "The term functional food needs to go away," he suggested. "There is nothing functional about these foods."

In Europe, cosmetics account for a major portion of Indena's business. For Indena USA, however, cosmeceuticals has been a small piece of business, "but only because the representation has been a bit thin," Ris noted. But he added, "We do have specific active principles, products from France that would lend themselves to some very efficacious products for improving microcirculation, spider veins and cellulite."

In cosmetics, Indena USA typically utilizes combination products to address specific problems such as wrinkles or spider veins. "There has been more research with things like UV protection in the cosmetic industry," said Croom. Ironically, he noted, "The cosmetic industry for years has had to do more things for their claims than in the functional food industry."

Overall, growth for Indena USA in the past year has been flat due to a loss of business from one major customer. But Ris noted, "We've seen good growth in other areas." Internationally, Indena has increased production capabilities through acquisition and expansion from one major facility to five worldwide.

Challenges have included compliance with new GMPs (good manufacturing practices) and bioterrorism regulations. Registration under new bioterrorism requirements has thus far been "extremely straightforward and easy," he assured. "There will obviously be a huge amount of products to be checked out, but so far the experience has been good." A bigger issue has been responding to GMPs "to try and find a reasonable approach to fit such a diversity of ingredients, products and final products," he added.

Asked about the increasingly consolidated competitive field, Croom observed, "They face the same challenges that we do now. It's not the battles with the Indenas or the Euromeds of the world. It's trying to convince people that not all extracts are alike."

To overcome that hurdle, Indena subjects all of its key ingredients to safety testing and efficacy testing, including tests on humans, Ris added, noting that some companies use untested ingredients or markers.

Competitors that rely heavily on the dietary supplement market may face difficulties or even further consolidations in the future. "Some companies are struggling right now, because they don't have the pharmaceutical business or the cosmetic business that Indena has," Ris observed.

For the future, Indena plans to maintain its commitment to science-backed products. Croom added, "We've retained our commitment to science even in the face of people not rewarding science."

U.S. Nutra Rides its Leadership in Saw Palmetto and CO2 Extraction "It has been a very challenging market, but we definitely did see a turnaround this year in the botanical raw materials," said Chuck Wanzer, vice president of sales at U.S. Nutra (Eustis, Fla.). "All of the excesses have been worked off," he added, noting that overproduction had kept prices of many botanical raw materials down in recent years.

Founded in 1999 as U.S. Nutraceuticals, U.S. Nutra is a manufacturer of nutraceutical ingredients, including botanical extracts and carotenoids. A leader in the saw palmetto market, U.S. Nutra projected that by the end of this year, the company will be the largest supplier of saw palmetto globally.

"Saw palmetto typically has been in the low dollar range, but today's price is $2.50 to $3, so it's doubled in price per pound," Wanzer noted. He attributed the increase to three consecutive mediocre harvest years, in addition to selling off surpluses from prior overproduction. "The price of extract, ironically, is too low because raw materials are now short," he added, noting a lag time between increases in pricing on raw materials and extracts. Although extract prices have risen to the $55-$70 per kilo range, Wanzer predicted further price increases in the near future.

Depressed pricing has kept many wildcrafters out of the market, limiting competition for production of saw palmetto. "Now that the price is up, we'll probably have 10 new competitors coming in for the easy money," Wanzer speculated.

NBJ’s Leading HerbHe estimated the size of the U.S. saw palmetto extract market at 100 tons annually. At $60 per kilo, that's a $600,000 market. "It's grown in the last few years at 2-5% per year," he added. "The rest of the world is another 100 tons." That brings the global saw palmetto extract market to 200 tons, or approximately $1.2 million in raw material sales.

In addition to selling extract, U.S. Nutra also supplies whole saw palmetto berries, which are ground up in and used in powders. "That's another 260 tons of ground-up dried saw palmetto berries," noted Larry Line, international vice president. All of the ground-up berries are used in the United States, he added, noting that the rest of the world utilizes extracts only.

The company has carved out a unique niche as the world's largest owner of saw palmetto plants. "Saw palmetto is only harvestable commercially in Florida and Southern Georgia- nowhere else in the world," said Wanza. "In a good year, we will harvest 40 million pounds of green berries." Because of its importance for the Florida economy, saw palmetto has been named an agricultural crop by the State. "We pump a tremendous amount of money into Florida in August and September, when there aren't any other crops," Wanzer added. "We also supply most of our competitors. The company's saw palmetto extract recently got a boost when gave U.S.

Nutra the highest rating for saw palmetto products. Saw palmetto berries are wild-crafted, harvested from pastures, ranchlands, unimproved farmland and swamps. In addition to harvesting the raw material, U.S. Nutra has its own drying facility and an extraction plant that utilizes high-pressure, supercritical CO2 processing. The proprietary process entails flooding a container with carbon dioxide under high pressure to flush out all oxygen. "CO2 is relatively inert, so you automatically get a more stable product because you've eliminated things that cause oxidation.... If it's stored properly, you've got a really stable product.""

The company also sells combination products with saw palmetto and other ingredients, including pygeum (an African tree bark), pumpkin seed oil, corn pollen and astaxanthinÑall for benign prostate conditions. The astaxanthin-saw palmetto combination inhibited BPH by 90-95% in vitro, according to one recent study.

In 2002, U.S. Nutra acquired exclusive wordwide rights to the astaxanthin intellectual property portfolio of La Haye Laboratories Inc., including the Zanthin trademark and patents for use of astaxanthin, a carotenoid derived from cultivated algae, in prevention of macular degeneration and other diseases. In one trial, astaxanthin was found to be 100- 500 times more potent than vitamin E and 10 times more potent than beta-carotene, with greater bioavailability because of astaxanthin's ability to cross the blood-brain and retinal barriers.

"Astaxanthin is actually the largest carotenoid sold in the world,"" Line disclosed. "It's way ahead of anything else, with sales in excess of $300 million a year."" The majority of those sales, however, are for use in animal feed, including fish feed, since astaxanthin provides the red pigment in salmon.

Most astaxanthin sold today is synthetic. "We call it stereo chemistry,"" said Line, adding that physiological testing on humans has been done using natural forms, not synthetics. "The positive effects of astaxanthin may not be apparent in synthetic forms,"" he added.

U.S. Nutra's astaxanthin is grown in closed cultures using ultrapure water, then extracted using the company's proprietary supercritical carbon dioxide extraction process. "Everyone else uses solvents and carbon dioxide, or just solvents," Line noted.

The market for astaxanthin in nutritional supplements, though still only a few million dollars, is growing rapidly. "Ours is up five-fold, 500%," said Line. "We've had good science behind it and increasing acceptance. For example, we've licensed a patent from the University of Illinois for treatment of Aids-related macular degeneration and neurological disorders. " In Europe, the company's products have been sold as pharmaceuticals.

U.S. Nutra is also investing in clinicals to support astaxanthin. "We just presented a major human double-blind, randomized placebo- controlled study and found that astaxanthin is a very potent stimulator of immune function," Line revaled. The study, conducted at Washington State University, will be published in the near future, he added.

Astaxanthin has powerful antioxidant qualities and potential use for many other conditions. "This is probably four to six times more effective an as antioxidant than lutein. It's very effective," said Line. He added, "In the U.S., we have an eye preparation with Swanson Health Products with astaxanthin that is doing extremely well."

Following up on anecdotal evidence, U.S. Nutra is considering additional astaxanthin research. "We are probably going to do a study on MS [multiple sclerosis]," Line said. "Also, the National Center for Toxicological Research is talking about doing a study on a Parkinson's model." Astaxanthin also has cardiovascular effects and anti-cancer effects and may increase energy levels. "In Sweden, one study found a 280% increase in strength and endurance, " said Line, noting that a study with race horses showed similar findings. Because astaxanthin crosses the blood-brain barrier, it may also have potential for Alhzeimer's, he added. In addition, a study at Washington State University found astaxanthin effective at stimulating T-cells.

Currently, U.S. Nutra is investing in additional scientific studies to back its productsÑ a move that has led to an interesting dilemma. "One of the problems with astaxanthin is that it does so many things and we can prove it, but it still sounds like snake oil," Wanzer said. "We actually don't claim as much as we could, because it's confusing to the consumer."

Another application of astaxanthin is in topical use to protect skin from UV damage. "We have a patent for protection against sunburn," Line noted. U.S. Nutra also supplies astaxanthin used in Sea 'n' Ski sun lotion.

Cosmeceuticals are the highest growth segment for U.S. Nutra but remain a small fragment of the company's overall business. The company also launched a new line of organic spices last year and sales are "excellent. The growth has been tremendous," Wanzer said. The company's CO2 extraction process obtains the "total oil, broad spectrum extract" from spice oils, unlike steam distilled extraction processes, which obtain only highs and lows, he explained.

Another new product is a valerian extract with a dosage of 8% 10 times higher than the standard form on the market. "That offers convenience as far as dosage size," said Wanzer.

Early this year, U.S. Nutra plans to introduce a new valerian powder encapsulated in beadlet form for use in tablets or capsules. "The biggest problem with products on the market is a terrible odor, like sweatsocks," Wanzer noted. "We will have a powder under 3% that doesn't have an odor associated with it.... Contract manufacturers are very interested."

The company's hottest new product is a supercritical extract from cranberry seed oil. "We get this oil that is really high in the antioxidants, the vitamin E and the tocotrienols," said Line. "What's used mostly in the nutritional supplement industry is palm oil, which has some harmful oils that aren't good for you." Cranberry seed oil, by contrast, contains beneficial omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in a one-to-one ratio, he added. Unlike coldpressed extracts, the supercritical CO2 extraction process results in full-spectrum oils, Line added.

The cranberry seed oil extract also has cosmeceutical applications. "The most common source of the omegas today is fish oil," Wanzer noted. "It's really good for your skin, but you wake up in the morning smelling like fish. Instead, this smells faintly of cranberries." Just how big could the cranberry seed extract become? "We're looking at cranberry in two years being maybe as big as saw palmetto," Wanzer predicted.

Next up, U.S. Nutra will be joining forces with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a study involving St. John's wort. Intriguingly, some researchers now speculate that the widely publicized negative effects of St. John's wort (notably interfering with certain medications) may in fact be the result of standardizing the wrong active ingredient. "This is a radical approach," Wanzer acknowledged. "St. John's wort is a wonderful herb, but it just got some bad press because maybe we were standardizing what is easy instead of what is appropriate."

U.S. Nutra has created SuperForin, a supercritical extract of St. John's wort. "With CO2, we get only hyperforins," Wanzer said. In the NIH study, researchers will compare the CO2 extract containing hyperforin to an ethanol extract with hypericin. "We are going to do a double-blind placebo-controlled test to see which one really is more effective," Wanzer said, adding, "We know that ours does not have the bad effects."

Asked how the demands of U.S. Nutra's customers are changing in today's marketplace, Wanzer responded, "Worldwide, our customers are becoming more sophisticated. "They want products that work. Number two, they want you to be able to prove it, which is fine with us. Third, the product should be what you say it is," he added, noting that internal and external quality controls are key to proving the latter.

U.S. Nutra is benefiting from new European Union rules barring solvent residues in products. The company's CO2 extraction process offers a viable alternative to customers seeking solvent-free processing. "Overall, the regulatory emphasis is to minimize the amount of harmful materials allowed in supplements, pharmaceuticals and foods. That's a general trend-to increase purity and decrease contamination," Line observed. In addition to its proprietary CO2 extraction process, U.S. Nutra also differentiates itself by being a certified organic processor and certified kosher processor as well.

For the future, the biggest challenges will likely arise from a changing regulatory environment, Line believes. "We're spending an enormous amount of money to comply with the new European rules," he said. "We'll be one of the first out there, probably among six companies to have actually done this. The other challenge is the unethical conduct of some companies in making outrageous claims without substantiation, thereby damaging the credibility of some products that really do work."

To maintain a competitive edge, U.S. Nutra will continue investing in science to back up all of its products. "We don't want to sell snake oil," Wanzer concluded. "We want our clients to buy a product because it really works."