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Supply spotlight: Sabinsa

SabinsaBeginning with just a handful of Ayurvedic herbs in 1988, Sabinsa has grown to become a major force in the natural-ingredients industry, producing more than 200 ingredients for marketplaces from nutraceuticals to cosmeceuticals, from fine chemicals to pharmaceuticals. Sabinsa's stated mission is to provide alternative and complementary natural products for human nutrition and well-being.

According to Shaheen Majeed, Sabinsa's marketing director, research and introducing new products are two lifelines for Sabinsa. Soon after the company's beginning, he says, "we saw the need for standardising and ultimately researching these ingredients beyond what the traditional texts said. We built in a mode of operating in this fashion, that it soon became our daily function at Sabinsa, so once the engine, so to speak, started, there was no stopping or going back.

"There's a part of our DNA that won't allow us to stop, at least on the research side."

Recent examples
Recently, this two-angle approach is evidenced in the introduction of Saberry (amla, Indian gooseberry), as well as taking Sabinsa's Curcumin C3 Complex to new levels with more than 25 clinicals globally in various research institutions and universities.

"The evidence in the case of Saberry is the traditional use of amla (Emblic officinalis) fruit in the Ayurvedic tradition (as a 'rasayana,' or rejuvenative), in food products (such as pickles and preserves), and in healthful 'tonics' such as Chyawanprash in India," Majeed says.

"We prepare it by a proprietary process that helps to retain the healthful properties of the fruit, and authenticate it using a validated biomarker beta-glucogallin. Conventionally, amla extracts were standardised based on vitamin C, which is not present in consistent amounts and occurs only in trace quantities in fresh fruits in several varieties of amla.

"Amla fruit has scientifically validated benefits in healthy ageing, particularly in digestive health (including a potential role in the prevention of ulcers)," Majeed says, "in supporting the management of secondary complications of diabetes, in supporting healthy blood-lipid levels, and in having anti-inflammatory effects, as well as in achieving a healthful balance of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase in vivo."

As for the company's Curcumin C3 Complex, Majeed says, "C3 Complex is a proprietary composition patented for its 'bioprotectant' role. This role, and the anti-inflammatory role of curcuminoids, is well established. Curcuminoids have been shown to inhibit nuclear factor kappaB (NF kappaB), a transcription factor that triggers inflammatory mediators. NF kappaB has been implicated in a variety of chronic-disease conditions ranging from cardiovascular diseases to cancer."

Science, presented clearly
One readily recognises in Majeed's explanations the strong emphasis on research and development, as well as the clear presentation of that information, that Sabinsa counts as key to the company's success.

"Our approach to marketing has always been science based and research driven with a quality-orientated methodology," he says. "I can assure you it will continue that way for Sabinsa for many more years to come. In the meantime, we'll continue to give a clear message about our products' attributes.

"We heavily emphasise training and making presentations that are easy to present and give clear meaning to what we're trying to sell — backed by our in-house scientists who are on-call to answer any questions that may arise when we're in the field. I can't stress to you the confidence that the sales force and I myself have when we visit customers because of the support we have from our technical department, both here in the USA and our R&D center in Bangalore, India.

Reaching the world
As for Sabinsa's future marketing plans, Majeed says that the disparity in rules and regulations worldwide present the biggest challenge.

"Most people agree that the US is an easier place to sell dietary supplements vs other countries — take Japan or even Europe, for example. The regulations overseas create a challenge to do business in, but with an understanding and focused efforts, you can achieve your goals there. It took us several years to break the Japanese market. I'm proud to say it's now one of our best and strongest performing offices worldwide. We've been fortunate to even have a number of Japanese patents come through for us.

"Most countries continue to focus on documentation, and now slowly we're starting to see our customers in the US asking for specific documents, which we've had in our possession for years. However, we feel that REACH [recent European-community regulation on chemicals and their safe use], for example, will lead to overregulation, ultimately hampering free trade."

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