Verdure CEO on 25 years of scientific success, stewardship, and the opportunity to formulate with Indian botanicals
The company was founded in 1997 by Ajay Patel, who still serves as CEO. Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA, Patel explained how he grew up in India and moved to Indiana to attend Purdue University and graduate as a chemical engineer. Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, Patel always thought about taking traditional Indian herbs and herbal medicines beyond those communities where they are grown.
While the industry has evolved over time, the core commitments of Indiana-based Verdure have not changed, he explained.
“Twenty-five years is a long time, and the industry has come along way and for the better: from those good old days to today, there’s a lot that has transpired,” said Patel. “Verdure’s mission has been unchanged, and by that I mean we were always big into traceability, chain of custody, scientific evidence, so that has continued and will continue. But of course, as markets evolve and consumers evolve, we have to adapt, but our mission has not changed.”
Commitment to scientific substantiation
The company’s dedication to science has been recognized by this publication: Verdure was the winner of the NutraIngredients-USA Awards Nutrition Research Project for three years in succession (2019-2021... earlier this week, they were named a finalist in this category with winners to be announced on July 13).
“One of the very big reasons why we’ve been able to accomplish those feats is that we started quite early on in this space: Our first clinical study was almost 22 years ago, and it was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study and published in a high-impact reputable journal. Beyond just the quality of the clinical study, is the consistency of the product and defining the products that are used in the clinical studies.
“A couple of decades ago that was a huge challenge because you could find publications, but you wouldn’t be able to trace them to the material used in the studies, let alone the quality of the material. One of the big differentiators for us was to come up with the standardized material, especially in those days, create those standards, and then put them through the rigor of the clinical studies.”
Verdure has come a long way and a lot of that is attributable to the people within its structure and network, said Patel, all the way back to the growers, the processors, the forwarding agents of freight, and onwards to the people within Verdure themselves and their customers.
“When we talk about our sustainability initiative, it’s an over-arching and all-encompassing initiative. First and foremost, we’re talking about the people who are part of our communities and networks, and we’ve aligned really well over time because building relationships takes time. And I think that’s a very good reason why we’ve fared pretty well in the last couple of years, especially with the COVID disruptions, is the alignment we’ve had with people all across the globe.”
The company operates two key initiatives that they have termed Verdugration and Verdure Cares. The former is the company’s efforts for collaboration with organizations, people, and associations around the globe to fully integrate sustainable, traceable, and certifiable practices. While the latter, which is a division of Verdugration, extends its stewardship efforts to encompass employee benefits, corporate philanthropic efforts, and sustainable partnerships.
What’s next? The formulation opportunity
The North American market remains the largest market for the company, but Patel and Verdure are exploring the potential of other markets around the globe. “There are other markets that are very exciting: There’s a lot of innovation, a lot of development, consumers are becoming more familiar with traditional medicine and traditional botanicals. Verdure is primarily focused on Ayurvedic or Indian-based botanicals, those are trending, that’s one of the great opportunities that we see.
“We also see ourselves transitioning into more functional applications. Botanicals are challenging with respect to the flavor and the taste and other attributes from a formulation standpoint, especially when you have trending formulation types like gummies and sachets, and we’ve been working with out formulation partners to develop new ways to incorporate these clinically tested botanicals into these formats that consumers are wanting.”
Watch the video above for the full interview with Ajay Patel.