Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA via video, Beth Lambert said that once we move past this crisis that she hope that people “start to take care of themselves and their immune systems and realize that they cannot get all of the nutrients they need from their food, although good food is so important, but it’s those things on the edges that we still need to supplement.
“People are going through great times of stress. We’ve seen an upsurge in adaptogens and stress support products and I hope that continues, that people do explore and understand herbs more deeply in that area.
“There had been a great rush for people to try the novel product CBD. The nervine and stress support herbal products with a great tradition and research kind of slowed down for a period, so it’s really good to see people are turning back to things that we have a good long history of use on in times of real stress.”
“The first week in March was insane”
Like many supplement brands, Herbalist & Alchemist experienced a surge in sales in March as people sought out natural options to help bolster their personal health.
“We talked in January and February as this was breaking in China, and really we did not see a lot of change at that point, and then came the first week in March and it was insane,” said Lambert. “I’m talking across a wide variety of products, ten times, 20, 100 times the volume we’ve had in these products historically. We’ve been in business close to 40 years and we’ve never seen anything quite like this.
“It was primarily immune products, but also cardiovascular-support products had a good strong showing.”
The surge in sales has since eased off, said Lambert, but the company did take proactive steps to ease things on their side for their staff, including closing the website to outside (non-registered) customers. The company did see binge buying in the early days of this, and so also rationed in sizes and amounts that people could purchase.
“For about a week it ballooned, but with those changes we were able to catch up on our orders, and then reopen our website to the general public,” she said.
“What’s interesting is that there is now more buying of general adaptogens and the nervine products to support stress. A lot of the immune products ran out, but we were in very good shape because we had bought in a lot of what we needed for the year from China when we first heard this happening – or at least we thought it was what we were going to need for the year - and then were able to contact our suppliers and get additional raw materials into the pipeline to get to us.”
With some raw material being challenged, Lambert said her business partner, David Winston, is able to use his vast knowledge of herbs to reformulate.
“I have a very clever and knowledgeable business partner. He knows his herbs… If there is a need in his formulas to substitute something, he can do that,” she said.
“There are some things, however, that the Chinese do that are relatively unique, and for those things we’ve got some really good relationships. For the US suppliers, we are waiting for the growing season. We’ve already gotten in a second round of roots.
“We had Echinacea purpurea dug before the real Spring growing season, and [Echinacea] angustifolia dug almost a month ago while it was still snowing out in Kansas. You can substitute that as back-up, the angustifolia in particular, you can substitute that for other types of Echinacea.”