Herbalife says it will increase support for Hispanic nutrition initiative

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - Dima Berkut
©Getty Images - Dima Berkut

Related tags elderly food Dietary supplements

Herbalife Nutrition has announced an extended partnership with a national nonprofit organization aimed at supporting older Hispanic individuals and their caregivers.

Herbalife is the world’s largest multi level marketing organization devoted solely the sale of nutritional products, including a wide array of dietary supplements.  In 2019 the company was ranked by the industry publication Direct Selling News​ as the world’s No. 2 largest MLM overall.

Herbalife announced this week that it will expand its partnership with the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), said to be the leading organization working to improve the lives of older Hispanic adults, their families and caregivers.

The partnership is intended to give older Hispanics access to health nutrition, in addition to nutrition education and fitness programs in order to promote healthy aging, the company said.

Criticism of relations with minority communities

Herbalife has been criticized in the past for its relations with minority communities.  Activist investor Bill Ackman charged the company with inducing a number of black and Hispanic distributors to take out hefty leases on commercial real estate space to open so-called ‘nutrition clubs,’ which is one of the modes in which distributors connect with and energize their downline distributor organizations.  The allegation was that many of these distributors were unsophisticated when it came to business cost projections and struggled to bring in enough income to cover the cost of leases. They were left holding the bag while the parent company profited on the sale of products through the nutrition clubs, Ackman claimed.

In a $200 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission​, in a case which appeared to include some of the issues that Ackman had raised, Herbalife agreed to provide business counseling services to distributors who were considering opening up nutrition clubs.

Herbalife said the expanded partnership, which includes the participation of the Herbalife Nutrition Foundation, is part of the company’s wider Nutrition for Zero Hunger​ (NFZH) initiative.

"Our Nutrition for Zero Hunger campaign is designed to do one thing: eradicate hunger around the world.  Working with the National Hispanic Council on Aging, we will expand our reach as we tackle this global crisis," ​said Alan Hoffman, Herbalife’s executive vice president of global corporate affairs.

Growing need

According to NHCOA, by 2060 the aging Hispanic population is expected to grow to 21.5 million. While more than 32% of this population lacks health insurance, economic and food insecurity are also prevalent issues among older Hispanic adults, placing this population at a higher risk for a number of chronic diseases, including obesity and diabetes. Herbalife will provide additional funding for NHCOA's health education and promotion programs, focusing on healthy lifestyle habits. 

Since 2014 Herbalife said it has provided about $60,000 in nutrition products to NHCOA.  The company said it has provided about $140,000 in additional support in that time frame.  Herbalife’s overall revenues in 2019 came in at $4.9 billion and the company has brought in more than $4.4 billion every year since 2014.

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