Herbal supplements have been headline news for over six weeks following the NY Attorney General’s investigation into the quality and standard of botanical supplements, and some companies not directly involved in the probe have already felt an effect. For example, Vitamin Shoppe recently reported its herbal supplement sales had been impacted, albeit only slightly.
Gaia Herbs, however, saw significant boosts in sales, Ric Scalzo, CEO of Gaia Herbs, told NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Expo West show in Anaheim.
“We’re a leader in transparency and traceability and for that reason people are coming to us about clarity,” he said. “Sales in January 2015 were re up 25% year-on-year, and up 25-30% in February year-on-year.”
Winter 2014 was notorious for slow supplement sales, so are we just seeing the effects of a milder winter? No, said Todd King, VP of Marketing for Gaia Herbs, because the company had growth last January as well.
“Consumers are turning to a source of botanical and herbal supplements they can trust,” said King.
Central to the company’s reputation for being a manufacturer consumers can trust is its commitment to traceability and quality.
The company operates with a seed-to-shelf approach, he said, all housed at its 250 acres of organic farm and 45,000 sq. foot manufacturing facility and analytical lab in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Gaia Herbs has about 30 of its 200 employees in QA/QC, or 15% of its workforce.
The company also recently re-launched its lauded Meet Your Herbs platform which can allow consumers to access extensive data about the product they have purchased, including the analytical tests and results for purity, potency and integrity.
“We have a high regard for DNA barcoding at the raw material level, but we don’t use it at finished product level,” said Scalzo.
Following the NY AG’s probe and publicity, the company is seeing increased traffic to Meet Your Herbs, said King.
Another boost for the company has come via turmeric. Speaking with us in 2014, Scalzo said that turmeric supplements had risen rapidly to become the company’s number one selling product. One year on and turmeric products now account for 20% of Gaia’s total sales.
“It just goes to show you how much interest there is in the turmeric industry,” said Scalzo. “It fits the bill for our lives; they’re stressful and that promotes inflammation, but turmeric can help manage inflammation.”
The company is developing about 25 acres in Costa Rica to support supply for the growth in turmeric demand. “This is the first year of that farm,” said Scalzo. “It doesn’t satisfy our current needs, but in three years we will be self-sufficient in turmeric. We’ve also found that the activity levels in our Costa Rican turmeric are very high, with about 35-40 mg curcuminoids, versus 20-25 mg for turmeric from Indonesia.”
Founded in 1987, Gaia Herbs is now recognized as a leader in therapeutic-quality herbal extracts for health-conscious consumers. In addition to founding Gaia Herbs, Scalzo also founded the Gaia Herbal Research Institute, and its publishing arm Herbal Research Publications.