The company announced the launch of an organic hemp-CBD line at the recent Expo West, which Rubin told us has seed to product under purview, which is being grown in Tennessee, Missouri and Colorado.
“We made the decision that when the Farm Bill passed to get into CBD. It’s a calculated risk. I believe FDA will approve CBD as an ingredient in foods and dietary supplements.
“I don’t believe CBD is a cure-all, but it does deserve its place in the herbal pharmacopeia, and I think it will ultimately sit with other herbs like turmeric and Echinacea,” he said.
Rubin added that the biggest regulatory risk is with claims, and that the company is not making any structure-function claims because CBD hasn’t been studied enough.
“CBD is a risk but there’s a way to do it with top consultants and the maximum of testing at every point,” he added.
Rocket ship growth
The company, which Rubin co-founded with Dr Josh Axe, is not yet three years old and has experienced “rocket ship” growth during that time. The company recently welcomed Greg Shearson as CEO, thereby allowing both Rubin and co-founder Dr Josh Axe to focus on their core interests. For Rubin that’s around formulation and innovation.
“2019 is going to be a great year,” he told us. “We’re expanding on the new product side, and we’re planning to launch as many as 100 SKUs this year. With being omni-channel we can be more nimble with our launches.”
Best known for products like bone broth, Ancient Nutrition has five key pillars, said Rubin. First is protein, and that includes bone broth and any protein that “offers more than meets the eye”. The company is planning to launch plant-based products this year.
The second pillar is collagen. “Dr Axe was a very early adopter, and it’s natural for him to continue his work. Collagen could easily be our largest pillar.”
The third pillar is keto, and Dr Axe is launching a new book called Keto Diet. “We have over 40 keto-branded products. I think we’re the largest keto brand. Keto impacts a range of end points, including brain, energy, metabolism and performance,” he said.
“It’s hot, hot, hot, but there has absolutely been a bit of backlash against keto. We’re not going to bet the farm on keto, but we believe in it. Keto’s got a lot of momentum.”
The fourth pillar is probiotics. The company recently launched eight probiotics exclusively with Whole Foods, and these will be nationwide by the summer, he said. The new probiotics line has products positioned for gut health, as well as brain, immunity, and skin health.
The formulations are based on a combination of ‘ancient’ Ayurvedic herbs (ashwagandha, turmeric, amla, and so on) and ‘ancient’ probiotics for increasing longevity, said Rubin.
State of the industry
While Ancient Nutrition is a relatively new brand in the space, Rubin is a veteran of the dietary supplements industry, having founded Garden of Life in 2000.
“I am abundantly proud of what [Garden of Life] was and is,” he said. “Ancient Nutrition is unfinished business, and I’m really excited about our partnership with Dr Axe.”
Many conversations this year will include some reference to DSHEA (the Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act), which is marking its 25th anniversary since being signed into law in 1994, and this conversation was no different.
“Have my own frustrations with DSHEA,” Rubin told us. “I think it’s still too restrictive. For example, we have a probiotic product that is supported by 16 clinical trials. It’s been extensively studies, but the most we can say is that it “helps healthy digestion”.
“I would like to see a combination of DSHEA and Health Canada,” he added. “I would like to see a DSHEA that reflects the truth, and by that I mean what the studies show. It should be expanded to allow for legitimate research.”