Herbalife CEO to discuss role of supplements in health at upcoming CRN event

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Council for Responsible Nutrition is holding a meeting in Phoenix, AZ this week. ©Getty Images - dszc
The Council for Responsible Nutrition is holding a meeting in Phoenix, AZ this week. ©Getty Images - dszc

Related tags: Multi-level marketing, Dietary supplement companies, Dietary supplement industry, Dietary supplements

Herbalife CEO John Agwunobi will be featured during a fireside chat at the upcoming annual symposium of the Council for Responsible Nutrition. The even takes place this week in Phoenix.

Herbalife publicized the appearance via an announcement today.  Agwunobi, who is also Herbalife’s chairman, has been with the company for six years. 

Broad experience

Agwunobi holds an MD from Howard University as well as an MBA from Georgetown and an MPH from Johns Hopkins.

He is a veteran of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, having held the rank of Admiral.  He was also Assistant Secretary of Health under Pres. George W. Bush.

Agwunobi reportedly will discuss “the role of dietary supplements in preventative nutrition, industry regulation, and the Company’s commitment to eliminating hunger and improving access to good nutrition around the world.”

Herbalife is the world’s third largest multi level marketing company by overall revenue as ranked by industry publication Direct Selling News​. It was the largest MLM devoted solely to the sale of nutritional products, with a reported $5.8 billion in top line revenue in 2021.

Like many other companies selling dietary supplements, Herbalife benefitted from the huge demand spike during the global pandemic. The company recorded $5.5 billion in annual revenue in 2020, $4.9 billion in 2019 and $4.4 billion in 2018.

Run ins with regulators

Herbalife has generally steered clear of warning letters from the US Food and Drug Administration concerning the manufacturing of its dietary supplements and meal replacement products and the claims being made on them.  The company has not been so lucky when it comes to the Federal Trade Commission, however.

In 2016 Herbalife paid a $200 million fine​ to settle allegations that its business model constituted an illegal pyramid scheme. As part of the settlement with FTC the company also agreed to make changes to its compensation model to place more emphasis on paying commissions on sales of products to end users and less on handing out bonuses to distributors for merely signing up new participants in the scheme.

The company also recast the language it uses to convey how much new distributors might potentially earn.  The company no longer makes claims that suggest becoming an Herbalife distributor might allow someone to earn enough to replace their full time income, and no longer pictures distributors in front of mansions or aboard luxury yachts.  Rather, the company now says, “Herbalife Nutrition provides people who are looking for a business opportunity with the flexibility to build a business that meets their individual needs.”

Also, in 2019 the company paid a $20 million fine​ levied by US Securities and Exchange Commission to settle allegations that the company had misled investors about the nature of its business in China. 

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