Shaheen Majeed on continuing his father’s legacy, expanding the portfolio and our over-reliance on China

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sabinsa botanicals

Recently named as the CEO of Sami-Sabinsa Group, Shaheen Majeed said his late father left a simple and brilliant recipe for the next generation to follow: “Science and quality. Be reliable, be responsible.”

Majeed returned to the family business on April 1​ as global managing director and CEO of Sami-Sabinsa Group. He also joins the company’s Board of Directors, and his sister, Anju Majeed, PhD, who was named group executive chairperson.

The appointments were announced after the passing of their father Dr. Muhammed Majeed​, who died March 13 at age 75 following complications from surgery.

“It's been a landslide of emotions,” Majeed told us during a video interview. “My father was an integral part of not only my family but the family here at Sami-Sabinsa. And so the last few weeks, just hearing their stories, hearing how personable he was to them, whether you worked in the company or you didn't, the effect he had was greater than we could describe him to be so I'm very proud of that.

“I can tell you, as far as the legacy is concerned, for the company, it's very simple,” he said. “He gave a very easy recipe to follow: Science and quality. And I think he not only meant it for the Sami-Sabinsa Group of companies, but he really meant that for every competitor, every supplier out there.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Majeed went on to discuss how A.I. is changing the way companies do business and how climate change is impacting global botanical supply chains.

“Assure ourselves of what we’re getting is the best…”

Majeed also discussed wider industry calls to diversify the supply of nutraceutical ingredients and reduce the market’s reliance on China for these materials. An estimated 75% to 80% of nutraceutical ingredients are sourced from China​.

“I want to make it very clear, China is not a country to be ignored, though it can be easily a country that can be feared,” Majeed said. “But I think that fear sometimes is led by politics, and take that statement as you will, but there's some truth in that.

“Harness the good. Harness the good out of India as well. Not everything that comes out of India is all that great. We've been striving to make it better by being that better company.

“And there are some great companies in China. I worked for one, I know that right? Their supply chain and their quality was top notch […] And I think we'll hopefully, we'll continue to see higher grade companies out of China,” he said.

“That being said, are we over-reliant? Absolutely, there was no question about it. I think there were politics back even in the 1950s that were set up in the United States to allow for the goods to be imported from China at a faster, more economical rate than any other country could provide. But heck, I'm the type of person that loves Made in USA.

“So, what can we do about that? I don't think we need to have that fear. I think we put science and quality [and] we put testing behind it and assure of ourselves of what we're getting is the best. It doesn't matter if it's from China, Indonesia, India, Thailand, it doesn't matter. Put the testing behind it.”

Expanding the portfolio…

Sabinsa is known far and wide as a supplier of botanical ingredient (the Sami-Sabinsa Group commercially markets over 120 standardized botanical extracts in 17 countries), but they do have non-botanical ingredients already in the portfolio, including a probiotic under the brand name of Lactospore.

When asked if we’d see more of these kinds of ingredients in the future, Majeed said, “The short answer is absolutely.”

He said that he remembers when the company first made the move into probiotics with its Lactospore facility, and thinking at that time that it didn’t make sense given Sabinsa’s history with botanicals, but again credits his father’s vision. He added that Sabinsa will continue to explore opportunities afforded by the microbiome as well as some other areas.

“None of that will work unless we have the right people in place to do it,” he said. “So, I look forward to the people process, getting that fine-tuned and getting them on board. And then just seeing what can be possible. Like I said, [my father’s] recipe was simple. It was brilliant: Science and quality. Be reliable, be responsible.”

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