The supplements line, which features a complete suite of vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements, will at first be available online only, presumably to gauge consumer uptake.
"Over 50% of American adults take vitamins and supplements, indicating their commitment to better health, and we've created a line of products they can feel truly good about taking every day,” said Peter Shapiro, president Nature's Origin.
The issue of GMO ingredients in supplements has been a thorny one, complicated by a lack of clarity about where the bar might be set under which a product must pass in order to qualify. In supplements, the issue centers mostly on excipients, many of which might come from GMO crop feed stocks, and encapsulation materials or the make of capsules or softgels. The active ingredients—the vitamins, minerals and botanical actives—rarely come into question. The question for these ingredients would be more about what’s ‘natural.’
In any case, it seems as if NBTY has stolen a march on many major competitors in a devloping market space. While many of the scientists in the sector may doubt there is any relevance to the question of the tiny amount of a supplement’s overall mass that might or might not be GMO, it’s obviously something that’s on consumers’ minds.
“I believe GMO labeling is inevitable from the standpoint that consumers want it. The big question is whether it will be mandated by law. That remains to be seen,” said Loren Israelsen, when speaking with NutraIngredients-USA for a special edition last year on Going non GMO in Supplements.
Despite speculation about how the issue will develop in terms of regulation, what is certain is that consumers are interested in GMO labeling, said Israelsen, and retailers are saying they will give consumers what they want.
“The marketplace will do the job,” he said.
So how big is the issue for dietary supplement manufacturers? “We sense that the issue is substantially more significant than dietary supplement companies think,” said Israelsen.
“There is not the practice of testing in-bound materials for GMO status. If you look at the core GMO crops and their derivatives, then it could be a difficult situation.”
In addition to the GMO-free positioning, the new line will certify that it is gluten-free and free from irradiation. Once again, the scientific view might be that irradiation is a non issue in terms of consumers’ health (actually, most would say it’s a good thing overall), but it is a motivating factor for some segments of the market.
"Irradiation is a significant scientific advancement for food safety and shelf life, but for those who prefer a back-to-basic approach, we have chosen to produce Nature's Origin using non-irradiated ingredients," said Eric Nardulli, vice president of product development at NBTY.
In any case, a decision by NBTY to move in this direction will be influential because of teh comapny’s great market reach. NBTY is a private company, but Forbes magazine pegged its 2013 revenue at $3.1 billion.
The supplements will be available to start at naturesorigin.com