In early February, consumers who bought herbal supplements in New York were left wondering, “Was that really St. John’s Wort in my bottle?” NY Attorney General (NYAG) Eric T. Schneiderman announced DNA testing of herbal supplements purchased at GNC, Target, Walmart and Walgreens, produced unfavorable results. The active herbs were not found in the tested products, and filler herbs were used in their place, the NYAG stated. Based on the results, he insisted through cease-and-desist letters that the tested herbal products be pulled from shelves.
Finished products makers looking to buy from a new raw materials supplier—or make sure their current partners are still up to snuff—have a lot of important questions that need answers. Three areas of special concern are ingredient quality traceability, research backing and supply/costs. Several ingredient providers offer key information on these important matters in this report.
To be a competitive contract manufacturer in today’s dietary supplement market, quality is a must. The demands of product marketers and their customers, along with the demands of regulators like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have combined to create a strong movement toward improved standards.
Everyone is buying in on natural flavors and colors. It’s now only a matter of how far these sibling industries can push the boundaries, as the role they play in the food market is unquestioned. The use of botanical extracts in lieu of synthetic molecules is now mainstream, according to Amandine De Santi, business manager at NATUREX, Avignon, France. “The use of natural flavors, for example, is no longer a way to differentiate from the competition, but it has become a key requirement for consumers, especially in products for kids or with a healthy positioning,” she says.
Retailers looking to raise profit margins, strengthen their brand and increase customer loyalty need look no further than private labeling. It’s easier said than done, of course. And yet, lots of retailers are doing it successfully. U.S. retail sales of private label foods and beverages reached $102 billion in 2013, outpacing the growth of the overall food and beverage market from the previous year, according to Packaged Facts (1).
It’s no secret that natural and organic labeling is undergoing a change amid consumer and government scrutiny. In May of this year, Kellogg agreed to drop terms like "All Natural" and "100% Natural" on some of its Kashi and Bear Naked brand product labels as well pay more than $5 million to settle a class-action consumer fraud lawsuit (1). While the company’s representatives stood by their advertising practices, this is only one of many examples of lawsuits and bad press as consumers demand accuracy in labeling.
Suppliers and manufacturers understand that a supplement is useless if it fails to effectively deliver nutrients to the body. Companies want the best way to increase the bioavailability of some nutrients, like omega-3s and probiotics, and are turning to microencapsulation.
Curcumin is well known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Because it is not soluble, its uses have been limited, but HerbaKraft has recently developed Curcusol, a concentrated and more soluble extract of curcumin. Curcusol can be included in a variety of functional foods such as health beverages, as well as capsules.