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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Getting to the heart of supplement sales

Getting to the heart of supplement sales
In the flurry of supplement headlines, fear arises. But changing the supplement discussion starts with individual commitment.

Natural Food Exchange reopened with bare shelves, shelves where supplements should have sat ready to support Boston-area customers on their healing journeys. Instead, the owner asked questions.

I recently shared a bit of Valerie Mata’s story. But she’s worth noting again because she inspires in her commitment to align personal and business values, including making a stand against GMOs and supporting a healthy, local food system.

The endeavor took time. And, in some cases, Mata turned up empty-handed as she sought particular products or researched certain brands.

One customer told her she would go out of business with these new standards practices of hers. Others gave her thanks and purchased products she found to meet her criteria.

I applaud Valerie. More retailers need to take a stand for their customers, for the industry.

Many on the supplement side of the health and wellness industry feel as though their products—even their very motives—have been under attack in recent years. The New York Attorney General launched the largest hit earlier this year when he called for herbal products to be pulled off the shelves at a handful of large retail outlets and then gathered prosecutors in 13 other states to join him in taking his concerns to Washington, D.C.

I recently visited herbal leader Gaia Herbs on its 300-acre organic farm in North Carolina. Rigorous testing (even of the plants grown on this farm) and great transparency efforts are hallmarks of the company. I asked founder Rick Scalzo what the industry needs to do. His reminder: Just do good business.

Simple. Right? We know it isn’t. No matter how we try. Profit calls. Motives tempt. Investors question. Pressures push. Customers ask for the craziest of things. We lose touch. With people. With employees. With customers. With our purpose.

What does this all have to do with supplements?


At the core of supplement sales is the mission to help, a vision for a healthier world and, hopefully, values that extend to wellness of people and planet.

All great change starts inside, with one person’s decision and commitment. In the August issue of Natural Foods Merchandiser we talked to some industry leaders about the steps retailers can take to make sure they are stocking good supplements and how they can help their customers understand the products and whirl of information coming their way in this always-on world.

And we looked at companies consciously sourcing hot ingredients from across the world.
I hope these stories help you look at the industry, your aisles and, maybe, yourself in a fresh and inspiring way.

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