The new line is built around a unique ingredient, EpiCor, a yeast fermentate that originally was positioned as an immune health ingredient. But the ingredient’s manufacturer, Embria, has also researched it for its prebiotic effects at a higher dosage.
Trend toward gut health
Audrey Ross, ND, senior national educator for Country Life, said the company was looking to capitalize on the national trend toward gut health that both provided product differentiation and best moved the health needle for consumers. After taking a hard look at the market, she said the company decided a prebiotic positioning was the way to go.
“We have taken note of all the books that are coming out on the microbiome and the mind-gut connection. Everyone is talking about the microbiome; I’ve even seen ads for Dove Soap talking about how it doesn’t strip your skin microbiome. We built on that interest,” Ross told NutraIngredients-USA.
“Then we looked at market statistics. We saw that probiotic sales were flat or declining, whereas sale of prebiotics were increasing,” Ross told NutraIngredients-USA.
Ross said the new line is positioned for gut health, but is not meant as an “EpiCor” line per se, though that ingredient is present throughout the line. She said the company is emphasizing that in all of the products it is used in the clinically relevant dose of 630 mg for the prebiotic effect.
EpiCor is made using a fermented whole food yeast which captures a complex array of beneficial nutrients through the process of fermentation. Documented benefits include supporting a shift in healthy gut microbiota (flora) composition, helping maintain the gut lining, maintaining gut barrier function, and supporting overall gut microbiome. One recent pilot study with 80 subjects found that EpiCor relieved gastrointestinal discomfort and constipation. An earlier in vitro study highlighted EpiCor’s ability to manage systemic inflammation by modulating both the luminal and mucosal gut microbiota.
Building out from gut health foundation
With that foundation, Ross said Country Life built the new line to cover a range of health issues, working from the platform of gut health to affect other conditions. The line includes eight new products, namely Digestive Balance, Immune Balance, Sleep Balance, Mood Balance, Cognitive Balance, Stress Balance, Energy Balance and Weight Balance.
Ross said each new sku includes branded ingredients in addition to EpiCor chosen for that particular application. The Digestive Balance product contains additional prebiotic ingredients for gut microbiome modulation, whereas the Immune Balance product also contains Wellmune, an immune system modulating ingredient manufactured by Kerry.
The energy product features a branded coffee berry extract for a natural caffeine boost, while the sleep product includes melatonin, magnesium and 5HTP.
Ross said the beauty of having EpiCor as the backbone of the line is that the ingredient’s GRAS certification means that a consumer could take all eight products in the same day if she wished without going over the upper limit.
“EpiCor is GRAS at more than 11 grams a day,” Ross said. “For example, I travel a lot, and I would take the Digestive Balance and the Immune Balance products together to support me though that.”
Ross said Country Life, which was founded in 1971, has a lot of brand capital in the marketplace. She said the company’s commitment to a robust certification strategy also boosts consumer confidence.
Country Life has a history of pushing transparency and has relied on third party certifications to demonstrate this to consumers. The company has more than 500 products bearing one certification or another, including approximately 400 certified vegetarian, more than 240 certified vegan, more than 10 certified USDA organic and more than 150 certified kosher products.
Nearly all of Country Life’s products are manufactured at its wholly owned NSF-GMP compliant manufacturing facility in Hauppauge, NY The facility is also the first by a supplement brand to be certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), meaning all Country Life manufactured products are certified gluten-free.
The new line is formally launching at the Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA. More information on the new products will be available at the company’s booth, No. 3935.