State of the Industry


This is an exciting and challenging time for the nutritional supplement industry. The concept of good nutrition has taken hold in the general consciousness of many consumers. This has been a goal and a dream of many for decades. Now here we are in a golden age of nutritional science. We now understand so much more about how nutrition works in the body and we are able to make better choices because we understand more. However, all is not rosy. Significant challenges exist that could undermine if not greatly damage the natural food and supplement industry. We would all suffer if these challenges are not overcome. Here are some of the significant issues that could adversely affect our access to quality nutritional products, in no particular order:

Confusion in the marketplace. Not all products are equal either in raw materials, quality, scientific pedigree and so consumers are challenged to understand the distinctions that may determine success when building a nutritional program.

Fraud in the marketplace. Many supplements are sold that are inferior, sub-potency, adulterated and lacking in some way. Many people assume all products are of equal quality.

Lack of credible information. There is no lack of information. There is a huge lack of understanding and discernment.  Finding accurate and reliable information can be challenging. How do consumers know what information is credible, reliable and accurate?

FDA over-regulation. The FDA has determined that companies may not refer to any science that suggests that nutrients can treat, prevent, cure or mitigate any disease OR those products automatically becomes classified as a drug AND therefore subject to all the requirements of pharmaceutical drugs. This means that companies cannot tell you the facts of any nutrient regarding the health benefits UNLESS approved by the FDA. This is continuing to emerge as a serious intrusion to the free speech rights of supplement manufacturers. Good science, truthfully reported is PROHIBITED by FDA.  And the FDA is on the move, putting the fear of god into the business of supplement makers. No one wants bad or misleading information. But to prohibit the discussion of science in not warranted, and is not helpful. You need to know that it is happening right now because you will see less information as companies pull back for fear of crossing the line.

The mass market and the Internet are aggressively selling nutritional products. As the interest in nutrition has grown so has the interest of sellers other than the traditional health store. While this has created wider access for consumers, it has come at the cost of informed sellers who can effectively advise consumers. What is being lost is knowledgeable resources found in typical health food retail stores and other high-touch sellers.

Company acquisition: Well-known national nutritional companies are being purchased by big multi-national companies, whose bottom line and corporate interests supersede the interests of the consumers. There are now many instances of quality products being cheapened by their new owners with quality taking a back seat to cheaper ingredients and higher profits. Big companies buy our products and our profits, but they don’t buy our philosophy.

Legislative initiatives. There are many legislative threats to nutritional freedoms. On state levels, we have groups like dietitians that are trying to make nutritional advice illegal except as it come from them. Attempts to curb free speech on a state level is a battle I have been involved in. There are national threats coming from the FDA, the FTC, and legislative bills that further attempt to restrict access to nutritional products and/or nutritional advice. There are even international threats in the form of Codex, which attempts to impose worldwide restrictions on nutritional supplements.

GMO and other bad Ingredients. The introduction of genetically modified organisms into our food supply is of great concern. How do we know these foods are safe? Do we want our food sources controlled by big chemical companies? Consumers need to make choices based on their knowledge and be able to make informed consent. Full disclosure is critical. We don’t have that now.

My goal for is to be one small voice, looking at the science of nutrition and exploring the benefits with some of the best experts in the nutritional supplement world.  The more you know, the better choices you can make. Better choices lead to better outcomes. A person that is well nourished will do better that one that isn’t. Our goal is to help you understand the science and the distinctions about certain products in the hopes that you will be successful in putting together a nutritional program that works. WF


Steve Lankford is the host of Steve has over 40 years of experience in the natural products industry. His passion is helping others develop nutritional programs that work. At, Steve interviews the experts in the fields of science and nutrition. His in depth explorations and consumer friendly style are designed help listeners learn about the science of nutrition. His guests are some of the most respected experts in the natural products industry.

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NOTE: The statements presented in this podcast should not be considered medical advice or a way to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Dietary supplements do not treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before adding a dietary supplement to (or removing one from) your daily regimen. WholeFoods Magazine does not endorse any specific brand or product.


Posted September 26, 2014