The majority of the leading US supplement companies are working on using non-GMO ingredients in their formulations, said Cal Bewicke, CEO of Ethical Naturals Inc (ENI), as the company launches non-GMO vitamin C.
The non-GMO food and supplement category is the fastest growing sector in the entire natural products industry, with non-GMO product sales recently surpassing $3.5 billion, but the opportunities are countered by the significant challenges of attaining non-GMO verification, particularly for supplements.
At the forefront of the labeling initiative is the Non-GMO Project, which was launched in 2010. Verified product sales carrying the label recently exceeded $3.5 billion, and supplement brands such as NOW Foods, MegaFood/FoodState, Nordic Naturals, Garden of Life, New Chapter, and Organic India are just some of the companies that have products verified by the Non-GMO Project.
According to ENI, almost all Vitamin-C today is manufactured from corn, most of it GMO, so sourcing Non-GMO material is difficult. Indeed, the Non-GMO Project has no verified no suppliers of vitamin C.
To fill this gap, ENI has introduced a range of USP grade vitamin-C ingredients, including ascorbic acid and calcium ascorbate, as well as Polyphenol-C, a state-of-the-art Vitamin-C blend with polyphenols. ENI’s Vitamin-C is certified Non-GMO by SGS, the multinational, Swissb-ased certification company.
“We’re very pleased to add these core ingredients to our selection of Non-GMO products,” said Bewicke. “We’re now able to offer a cost-effective way for companies to make a switch to Non-GMO in their vitamin lines, and Polyphenol-C is a healthy, value added way to deliver Vitamin-C to supplement users.”
The new Polyphenol-C products contain non-GMO vitamin-C, blended with standardized levels of fruit polyphenols from grapes and Pacific Northwest berries dried by a patented process that uses the power of infrared light rather than heat to protect flavor and nutritional content, said the company.
The challenge of supplements
Leading industry figures have noted that going non-GMO in supplements may be substantially more challenging than some dietary supplement companies may think. One issue is that many dietary supplement formulations are complex, while the biggest challenge for supplement manufacturers is said to be the standardization materials (excipients).
Bewicke said that the demand for non-GMO ingredients is on the rise. “Most prominent companies are starting on the work of incorporating non-GMO materials,” he said, “but it’s a big and complex task that involves changing formulas or sources of supply, labeling issues, types of certification, and so on.”
Long Island-based manufacturing giant NBTY recently introduce a line of non-GMO supplements called Nature’s Origin (but not Non-GMO Project verified), which also features a gluten- and irradiation-free positioning.