AHPA’s McGuffin on supply chain, MPL, climate change, and more

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ahpa American herbal products association Supply chain Supply chain management Herbal supplements Saw palmetto mandatory product listing

Supply chain issues appear to be easing for the herbal supplements sector, says Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association, but the key lesson from the past couple of years is that supply chain management is not simple.

Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent SupplySide West, McGuffin said: “Last year and the year before, the only people who knew how to say ‘supply chain management’ were supply chain managers, and then all of a sudden it was dinner table conversation.

“Supply chain has never been simple in our complicated world of hundreds of ingredients that come from all over the world. It got much more complicated by the COVID shutdowns, by the transportation shutdowns, and what we’re hearing from members is that that is starting to ease. We’re seeing some of the pressure come off.

McGuffin added: “There’s a sense that we’re emerging from the worst of it but the main lesson we’re all taking from this is to recognize that it’s not simple, and that we really need to rely on the relationships all the way back to the people in the fields with the dirt under their nails.”​  

“There is a significant industry increase in making sure those folks are taken care of. Some of our members who have been suppliers for decades, they’ve been taking care of those folks for a long time. They may not have been communicating that very well upstream, but that’s going to become another element of supply chain: Having a narrative on how your company is operating. Consumers expect it now.”

The impact of environmental changes

Climate change is also having a significant impact on botanical raw materials, with some adverse weather events close to home decimating domestic supply of some herbs.

“Hurricane Ian went straight across the saw palmetto area just as the fruit were ripening,” ​he said. “That can be very disruptive and we’re still waiting to hear what the harvest is in 2022, but we shouldn’t be surprised if it was badly damaged.

“We’ve been doing some studies on the impacts of our harvests of golden seal,” ​added McGuffin. “The current study we have was sited at three locations, one of which was washed out in those flood in eastern Kentucky. We’ve realized that we need to look at the impacts of our harvests but also the impact of the environmental changes [on that plant].”

McGuffin also discussed his association’s position on proposed mandatory product listing (MPL) for dietary supplements, and why MPL shouldn’t be segregated from other possible statutory changes, such as the drug preclusion principle regarding dietary ingredient as we see with CBD, the restrictions on the distribution of truthful and not misleading information, and potential authorized third-party cGMP inspections.

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