King, Gaia’s vice president of marketing, spoke with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent Expo East trade show in Baltimore, MD. King said Gaia, which is based in Brevard, NC, has been involved in the traceability game for a long time, and has featured a “Meet Your Herbs” program on its website and its marketing materials for years. It’s a way for consumers and retail partners to get detailed information about the medicinal aspects of the company’s products and where the ingredients are sourced and how they’re grown, King said.
“We have focused on reinvigorating that platform, adding content to it,” King said.
The sourcing of ingredients has become increasingly important in the herbal industry as a result of the very public pressure coming from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. While many experts in the industry vigorously asserted that Schneiderman’s attack on the industry wrongheaded, it has led a number of companies to reexamine their supply chains.
In Gaia’s case the company has had a long history of growing as many of the ingredients it uses as possible on its own organic farm. But, as rich an agricultural region as the North Carolina piedmont is, some ingredients the company uses won’t grow there because of climate, so having a supply chain program in place is a must, King said.
“Our goal is to have everything vertically integrated . . . but in areas where that is not possible we have verified and validated partners,” King said.