Tap on the right to continue to the next slide.
Tap on the left to go to the previous slide.
Companies from across the supplement supply chain united in an initiative called Inside the Bottle. The mission: advocate for a quality supplement industry guided by trusted standards that empower consumers to take control of their health.
With consumers increasingly taking a proactive approach to self-care, that mission is more urgent than ever.
Inside the Bottle provides tools, resources, news and insights, while identifying actionable steps for supplement retailers, manufacturers, suppliers and all companies across the supplement supply chain.
Deepening your relationship with consumers by building trust
Three out of four U.S. adults take dietary supplements, a broad majority that holds for both men and women, in every region of the country and across all age groups and income and education levels. This percentage has grown decisively over the last decade and is continuing to rise.
There’s even more good news for supplements: According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), nearly nine in ten consumers say they have overall confidence in the safety, quality and effectiveness of dietary supplements, and almost four out of five perceive the dietary supplement industry as being trustworthy.
Surveys also show that consumers are more eager than ever to manage their health proactively. They’re seeking alternative solutions to boost their well-being and they want to be well informed about the choices they make.
All of this offers a singular opportunity to create a deep and lasting relationship with consumers by following best practices, building transparency into the supplement supply chain and providing reliable information about the sources and authenticity of ingredients.
Platforms that help build transparency, including the three below, are key ways to drive consumer trust.
Led by three prominent nonprofit organizations—the American Botanical Council, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research—this industry-funded educational program strives to be a self-regulatory mechanism for the herbal and dietary supplement industry to address adulteration.
Botanicals Adulterants Prevention Program
THE SUPPLEMENT OWL (ONLINE WELLNESS LIBRARY)
This self-regulatory initiative, spearheaded by CRN, is an industrywide searchable registry and database of product labels that’s designed to be an alternative to an FDA-mandated registry. Participation is free.
Consumers and retailers know/can be confident that products labeled Certified USDA Organic Seal have meet rigorous standards; they must contain at least 95% organic ingredients with no GMOs, antibiotics, growth hormones, antibodies or synthetic fertilizers used at any point in the supply chain.
THE SUPPLEMENT OWL (ONLINE WELLNESS LIBRARY)
Botanicals Adulterants Prevention Program
Integrity in Supplements
is another valuable tool in earning consumer trust. This industry initiative has defined 12 commitments that companies across the supply chain should aspire to follow. Companies will want to identify the commitments that apply to them and develop plans for how they will fulfill them without greenwashing.
Learn about the commitments companies can make to further build a reputable industry.
Third-party testing helps ensure customers are getting what they pay for and builds confidence that what’s on the label is actually inside the bottle. We believe that investing in third-party testing for product purity and active ingredient potency, as well as conducting clinical research on both ingredients and finished products, is critical to bringing high-quality products to the marketplace. We will only conduct testing with reputable third-party laboratories, and we will use these tests to hold ourselves accountable for quality ingredient sourcing and efficacious product formulation.
Ingredient traceability is increasingly relevant across industries as consumers crave more visibility into how their products are made. The global supplement industry can lead the way by leveraging technology (such as blockchain), storytelling platforms and other traceability efforts to define transparency in consumer products. We will accurately disclose ingredients, working hand in hand with every business partner across the supply chain to identify where ingredients come from and how they were produced.
Partnering with the right contract manufacturer is an important part of supplement transparency—and one that can help combat adulteration and other faulty practices that are concerns among consumers. We will identify our contract manufacturers and stay current on their business practices through regular audits. We will view them as key partners and help shed light on some of the poor practices that have increased in recent years.
Having a deep understanding of all current industry regulation guidelines is core to conducting responsible business in the supplement industry. We will meet—and work to exceed—these practices in order to exemplify a high industry standard and build trust with our business partners and with consumers. We will use these guidelines to help address concerns that the supplement industry is not regulated and to help educate on the current regulatory landscape.
The supplement industry was built on the healing power of plants. We tap nature for a range of alternative remedies and understand that we have a responsibility to protect the planet in order to support our mission of spreading health—and to support the long-term success of this industry. We will develop and disclose a sustainability roadmap outlining best practices related to carbon emissions, packaging, transportation and more. We will focus on collectively developing innovative solutions to reduce single-use and plastic packaging.
Inaccurately labeling products, misrepresenting research and making false claims can fracture trust in supplements and lead to widespread criticism and negative media coverage. We commit to being authentic and accurate in all ingredient and brand representation and also working to educate our trade partners, the media and consumers about how to read labels and interpret nutrition science.
The supplement industry’s supply chain involves various global players and provides us with an opportunity to support workers, growers and communities worldwide. In addition to committing to fair wages, we will focus on bringing value to the communities from which we source through health, education and economic initiatives. We will also work to make our products accessible and affordable to a wide range of communities and demographics.
We will play an active, collaborative, rather than competitive, role in the supplement industry, participating in associations, events and initiatives that support the industry as a whole, as well as one another’s integrity and transparency efforts. Where we find successes with our Integrity Commitments, we will share our practices and outcomes in order to help others learn from our experiences.
Consumers may be concerned about the use of certain synthetic ingredients, chemical processes and genetic engineering. While such practices and ingredients will not be eliminated from the supply chain, fully disclosing and educating on the various ingredients and processes used and why, will be important to having proactive and informed dialogue with our customers.
We believe that transparency is a tool to drive trust. We also know that transparency has become a buzzword that can lack substance and meaning. We will create a report that outlines how we define transparency in our organization and the ways in which we have helped reinforce these commitments in our daily business practices.
We understand the importance of vetting our partners so that our ingredients are used sens iblyand our products are sold through trusted outlets. We will only work with customers that are operating transparently and in alignment with the Integrity in Supplements Commitments.
Good products always start with good ingredients. We will not cut corners to cut costs; we commit to only working with suppliers that operate transparently and in alignment with the Integrity in Supplements Commitments. We recognize that our industry has very few barriersto entry, so we will only work with companies that meet or exceed this threshold. We will also partner with our suppliers to help them develop and meet benchmarks related to quality, integrity and transparency. All certifications on packaging we use will be supported by a third-party that uses quality standards to ensure the seal shows a high bar of excellence.
Supply Chain Standards
Click to learn more
The critical importance of telling your story clearly, consistently and effectively.
I want to take control of my health.
Supplements fill in nutritional gaps in my diet
I want to prevent disease
Every stakeholder across the supply chain should participate in consistent, focused messaging. Meaningful and engaging storytelling educates consumers about the health issues that are vital to them and is a powerful tool in building trust and loyalty. New Hope Network's NEXT Data & Insights Values and Generational Health Survey identified themes that resonate most with supplement users. Among seven out of ten consumers, there are three key concepts that motivate their use of dietary supplements.
What is the best way to maximize reach of the industry's message? According to a TURF (Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency) analysis, combining the themes of empowerment, convenience and proactivity will have the greatest impact for the most people.
Top 3 supplement industry messages
Shaping your narrative
You’re telling the story of what makes your ingredient unique, the points of differentiation in your growing or production process and the consumer needs the ingredient meets.
This is the story you need to tell to be a trusted voice.
If you’re a raw material manufacturer, farmer or grower …
You’re telling the story of what makes your processing unique; what are your quality controls, following standards for proprietary ingredients; how you validate source material authenticity and chain of custody testing for ID and quality.
If you’re an ingredient manufacturer or ingredient distributor …
You’re telling the story of your unique approach; how you ensure proper controls and regulatory compliance, ensure that products meet the label claims, and that your sourcing priorities are meeting your customers’ brand promise.
If you’re a contract manufacturer …
You’re telling the story of how you vet products so consumers can be confident everything on your shelf (virtual or bricks and mortar) is safe and effective, complying with all the aforementioned standards, so that you are selling the best the industry has to offer.
If you’re a retailer …
You’re telling the story of your formulating methodology, your brand philosophy and of how you source your ingredients and build supply chain partnerships so that consumers can trust that what’s inside the bottle aligns with what’s on the label.
If you’re a brand …
You’re telling the story of how you ensure proper climate control and storage conditions and you’re sharing your approach to obtaining sustainable distribution methods for dietary supplements.
If you’re a distributor or broker …
• Consumers are eager for science-based supplements that support immune health.
• Generation X is emerging as a growing market for dietary supplements, with engagement in health and wellness that may even surpass that of millennials.
• COVID-19 has changed consumer shopping habits and priorities in lasting ways. This creates opportunities for retailers to serve their needs through a range of online offerings, delivery service, curbside pickup and recommendations.
• Supplement vetting by retailers is essential. Irreputable brands are responding to increased consumer interest in supplements with a flood of products that contain adulterated ingredients, make outlandish claims and are mislabeled. To be an effective gatekeeper, start with a list of quality assurance standards that vendors are expected to comply with in order to make it onto shelves.
• Collaboration between retailers and brands is more important than ever. In strong partnerships, brands provide information, including information about quality certifications, samples, videos and other training information for staff.
• Savvy use of social media can help tell the complex story of supplements effectively and succinctly.
With consumer demand for supplements soaring, this is a consequential moment for the industry. As a retailer, here’s what you need to know:
Understanding the new consumer
The supplement consumer is changing. Consumers are placing an increased value on supplements as a way to support their health and well-being.
Consider these findings from the New Hope Network NEXT Data & Insights Survey on how COVID-19 is shaping consumer values, behaviors and attitudes toward supplements.
• More than ever before, consumers are taking the reins and proactively managing their health.
• Consumer attitudes toward the supplement industry are improving.
• Over one third of consumers say their use of supplements is increasing.
• The increases in supplement sales won during the pandemic are likely to persist.
• Consumers are open to trying new brands of supplements. When they do, many will stick with these products.
Talking back: the proof is in the
Having the knowledge to respond to studies about supplement and nutrition science that are reported in the media is an important tool in being able to communicate a clear and accurate story about the industry. Here are key criteria to consider when evaluating research:
• Are there indications the researchers might be biased?
• Were the participants in the study compliant?
• What are the limitations of the study?
• Is the size of the study large enough to be meaningful?
• Have findings been taken out of context?
• Is the dosage of the supplement that was studied appropriate?
• Did the researchers take a baseline measure of the participants’ nutrient levels?
Every link of the of the supply chain is an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to quality that will ensure consumers can have complete confidence in the safety and efficacy of the supplements they purchase.
This means testing at each phase of production, providing documentation of findings, and constantly elevating best practices.
Staying ahead of the lightning rod issues that consumers care about the most.
Inside the Bottle by New Hope Network’s NEXT custom research insight: The number-one concern among consumers about supplements and supplement ingredients is that they’re being cheated by fake products that aren’t what they claim to be or that contain watered-down ingredients.
Critical elements of quality control include:
including cGMPs (Current Good Manufacturing Practices), FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act), DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994) and AER (adverse event reporting, as outlined in the Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act).
1) Adhering to all current regulatory guidelines,
Ensuring quality requires diligence. A single ingredient may be sourced from multiple countries, with farming methods, processing, extraction and testing varying widely depending on the place of origin. Global sourcing makes it essential that suppliers provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA) with every delivered batch, verifying the identity, potency and purity of each ingredient. Suppliers should also be able to disclose all ingredients' country of origin. Some supplement companies are taking an extra step and instead of relying on the supplier, they’re independently testing each batch of an ingredient they receive. Independent, third-party testing should continue at every step of production, from auditing the facilities of manufacturers and ensuring GMP compliance to testing the final product for ingredient identity and quantity, heavy metals, contaminants and banned substances. Certifications from reputable testing firms, such as CL ConsumerLab, TruLabel, NSF, GMP, NPA GMP or USP, lets consumers know that the product they are purchasing has passed stringent quality standards.
2) Sourcing, tracing and testinG, Testing, testing.
This means the supplement formulations include evidence-based ingredients in dosages that have been shown to provide the benefits that are claimed. Credible manufacturers and brands are willing to share the peer-reviewed human research that demonstrates the efficacy of the active ingredients in their formulations.
3) Relying on robust scientific research to produce efficacious products.
Membership in a trade association, such as the Natural Products Association, United Natural Products Alliance or the Council for Responsible Nutrition, helps provide supplement companies across the supply chain with the latest guidelines, science and innovations on the production of safe, high-quality and efficacious dietary supplements.
4) STAYING INFORMED ABOUT EXEMPLARY PRACTICES.
Dietary supplements may draw on ancient healing traditions but it’s only in 1994 with the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) that the FDA defined the term “dietary supplement” and created a regulatory framework for the safety and labeling of supplements. Since then, several additional federal rules have been implemented, including the requirement that manufacturers follow Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) to ensure the identity, purity, quality, strength and composition of dietary supplements.
At their best, these regulations assure consumers that the products they are purchasing are safe and provide retailers with the certainty that the products on their shelves have met a high safety bar.
But regulatory issues are also complex. Understanding cGMPs, what regulatory compliance entails and the regulatory updates that may be on the horizon, often requires expert guidance and monitoring. ITB provides this expertise through a variety of tools and resources, including monthly news and updates, ongoing coverage and in-depth primers such as LINK TO SUPPLY CHAIN COMMITMENTS and LINK TO THE HEALER’S INDUSTRY
Navigating the regulatory landscape
Beyond the bottle:
Doing right is good for business
More and more consumers are defining health in ways that go far beyond their own well-being.
Consider this: 63% of millennials, 58% of Gen X-ers and two in five baby boomers, tell NEXT Data & Insights that they believe buying can be a moral decision. Consumers care deeply about how the products they buy impact communities, the world and the planet. Demonstrating an authentic alignment with these concerns by practicing sustainability and corporate social responsibility can give companies up and down the supply chain a competitive advantage.
Here are ways some supplement companies are showing they’re good corporate citizens.
“Sustainable shoppers buy the change they want to see in the world,” a Nielsen report concluded. From shunning the use of GMO seeds and pesticides, supporting farmers by paying a livable wage and providing health care and social services to rural farming communities, some supplement companies are demonstrating they share a vision of a changing world with their customers. Read about Sami-Sabinsa’s groundbreaking reforestation program, OmniActive’s soil management program and its pilot program to lower water usage by 90% through drip irrigation and the new Regenerative Organic Certified label.
Good farming and agricultural practices
If trends continue, by 2050 plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish. Products that eschew plastic for alternative eco-friendly packaging let consumers know at a glance that the companies behind them care about the environment. In an ambitious collaboration, New Hope Network, Natural Products Insider, Food & Beverage Insider and Vitafoods Insights have partnered to produce the Sustainable Packaging Toolkit, consolidating information and resources for stakeholders throughout the supply chain to be catalysts for change.
B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. B Corps use business as a force for good. Many companies are committing to these elevated practices that focusing on improving every aspect of good business
B Corp Certification
These Insides the Bottle partners are setting the standards for best practices in quality, science, traceability and transparency, supporting effective supplements that consumers can trust.
The maker of premium nutritional supplements for infants, children and teens, ChildLife Essentials follows testing that goes far beyond FDA requirements. Every ChildLife product is tested per lot by third-party labs and supply chain partners must be able to say where each ingredient is sourced and what allergens it might contain.
A leader in scientific research Wakunaga of America funds hundreds of rigorous studies that empower consumers to make well-informed decisions about their health. Wakunaga was one of the first supplement companies in the United States to achieve compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (cPMG) and to meet international standards as well.
One of North America’s largest nutritional product manufacturers, Natural Factors has created a vertically integrated approach that allows it to maintain control over every stage of production, from cultivating herbs on its own organic farmland to on-site extraction, testing, packaging and distribution. The result: “farm to supplement” quality, transparency and integrity.
For more than four decades, Jarrow has been formulating science-backed, research-driven supplements that promote optimal health. The company’s staff of scientists and health professionals are actively involved in clinical studies and work with research institutes worldwide in the development of clean, pure, high-quality dietary supplements with full traceability.
A pioneer in using only 100-percent USDA-certified-organic fruits, vegetables and botanicals in its vitamins, Orgenetics keeps its supply chain transparent and sustainable. That commitment begins with organic farming and continues through a patented water-based extraction process and a high-tech botanical fingerprinting technique developed by the company.
A pioneering company in elevating standard of quality and transparency, OmniActive Health Technologies produces science-backed solutions for consumer health and longevity. Through its Improving Lives Foundation, OmniActive is committed to making positive change in every step of the supply chain, including in small farming communities.
SGTI’s approach to contract manufacturing includes a state-of-the-art lab facility that performs all work in accordance with current Good Laboratory Practices (cGLP); in-house quality control that include high-performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography and atomic absorption; rigorous testing by accredited third-party labs, and proprietary technologies that enhance nutrient bioavailability and function.
Employing more than 120 scientists, Sabinsa has brought more than 100 standardized botanical extracts to the market, and introduced new agricultural technologies and sustainable methods, as well as fair-trade practices to its farmer partners in India.
Utilizing proven strategies, initiatives and resources that drive trust and transparency,
TTC provides guidance and insights to nutritional product stakeholders in areas that include business management, go-to-market strategy, finance and M&A, compliance and risk management, organizational culture development and trust transparency coaching.
Photography by Jennifer Olson