Ritual's Impact Report highlights traceability challenges in complex supply chains

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

© Image from Ritual Impact Report
© Image from Ritual Impact Report

Related tags ritual Traceability Sustainability Supply chain

“Oftentimes it feels like we are the first in our industry to ask some of these questions of our supply chain, there isn’t a playbook yet to use,” said Lindsay Dahl, Ritual's Chief Impact Officer.

Since day one, the company has been on a mission to transform the supplement industry through ingredient traceability, sustainable practices and clinically-validated formulas. It recently released its 2023 Impact Report​ detailing progress made across several key initiatives as the company works to raise standards through traceability, sustainability and scientific validation.

The report cites several accomplishments, including publicly sharing the carbon footprints for each product and achieving its 2022 goal of making 100% of ingredients traceable by disclosing supplier names and manufacturing locations.

"I’m proud of the fact that we have taken a comprehensive approach to impact, building programs and goals for sustainability, ingredient traceability, clinical efficacy and transparency," said Ritual's Chief Impact Officer, Lindsay Dahl​. "We are far from perfect, but I am proud of the fact that we openly tell the challenges of our work (like unlocking refill packaging) with our customers and publicly reporting on how we are tracking to our goals. 

“This past year, we had many 'firsts', including adding several new certifications—Clean Label Project, CarbonFree Certified and Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly—for our entire product line. We are proud to have announced our goal to have human clinical studies on all of our products by 2030. Two are complete, and many more are on the way."

Tracing isn't easy

Of all the progress made, Dahl told us the most challenging to achieve was unpacking where carbon emissions are the highest in their supply chain and their ongoing traceability work.

"When developing new products, we face challenges regarding ingredient traceability," she said. "We may love an ingredient supplier with strong clinical evidence, but they won’t comply with our traceability requirements. Ritual publicly shares the final place of manufacturing and supplier names on our website and maintains its goal to do so for 100% of our ingredients."

Scope 3 or bust

The Certified B Corporation has set a science-based target of net zero emissions by 2030 and conducted detailed product life cycle assessments (LCAs) to map its carbon footprint. So far, 22% of this long-term goal is complete.

On the climate front, Dahl noted that many brands are setting goals and failing to move beyond what is referred to as "spend based" corporate carbon accounting, which is essentially an educated guess on what a brand’s climate impacts are.

"That kind of general approach wasn’t going to work for Ritual, so we conducted LCAs for each of our products (sharing the carbon footprint for each product on our website), and we break down Scope 3 emissions to get real information that allows us to take action to remove carbon from our operations," Dahl said.

"I’m not sure how any brand can credibly stand behind a climate goal if they aren’t doing the work to understand their Scope 3 emissions. Oftentimes it feels like we are the first in our industry to ask some of these questions of our supply chain, there isn’t a playbook yet to use."

Clinical trials

Last year Ritual announced its goal to conduct gold-standard human clinical studies for all Ritual products, in partnership with leading universities and research organizations across the globe.

Ritual has made 14% progress toward its 2030 goal of conducting human clinical trials on all formulations. So far, the company completed trials validating efficacy of its women's multivitamin and new skin hydration formula.

"Selecting evidence-based ingredients has always been a priority for Ritual which is why we select ingredients that have their own clinical studies and at the doses used in those studies," Dahl said. "However, conducting a gold-standard clinical trial on finished formulas takes that commitment one step further to truly showcase efficacy to our skeptical consumer.

“We partner with leading universities and research organizations from around the world, and we hope to have the trials published in peer-review journals, as we did for our Essential for Women 18+ flagship multivitamin. This is not a requirement in the category, but it’s something we believe is important to deliver confidence that the products we create are working as designed and intended. Publishing our clinical trials in peer-reviewed journals takes time, resources, and it showcases to the scientific community that the studies are designed in a way that is best-in-class."

Safety, efficacy advocacy

Ritual made seven bids last year, petitioning Congress to act on issues including paid family leave, the Black maternal health crisis, establishing heavy metal limits and several climate related initiatives.

Additionally, the company introduced its Traceable Wellness Roadmap to Congress​. The roadmap outlines five key reforms needed to increase access to safer supplements: make ingredient traceability standard, establish heavy metal limits for supplements and protein powders, clearly define the term ‘clinically-studied,’ strengthen oversight of products and address mislabeling issues.

Dahl said she did receive positive feedback about its policy positions, including offices on both sides of the aisle.

"Given the category growth and recent calls for more funding from the FDA, it’s clear there is an appetite to understand what gaps exist in the current regulatory framework," she said.

While Ritual said it remains connected with various trade associations throughout the year to stay coordinated on relevant industry policy discussions, Dahl said Ritual directly represents itself when speaking with Congressional offices.

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