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Supplement Perspectives

Boring is Good

Lab insights
Pete Croatto on what should be the natural products industry’s mantra.

Working on a story about strengthening the supply chain while editing and managing posts on clinical trials has served as a reminder that the natural products industry is not the scrappy underdog to the pharmaceutical industry’s big dog anymore.

I have to tell you: I miss those days, or at least hearing about them. Science and due diligence are boring—but they are necessary. Especially now. Those qualities require capital, patience, and seriousness. The bar for entry in the natural products industry is high, and as Steve Mister at CRN told me recently, that may not be such a bad thing.

Of course, the people in this industry should be willing to explore the world for botanicals and tinker around with new nutrient combinations. That gung-ho spirit must remain, but it has to come with an equal dose of responsibility. More people who are taking a preventative stance and don’t want to rely on pharmaceuticals. Those are the people whose trust the industry needs to survive.

The recent nonsense regarding the overzealous state attorneys general, led by New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman, was a royal pain. But look past your anger for a second. Couldn’t this be considered the burden of higher expectations? Sure, the party’s requirements were skewed and ill informed, but a trace of intent was there. 

I see an industry coming to terms with its increased responsibility and maturity. The growing reliance on human clinical trials and companies doing more to ensure the quality of their supply chain than glancing at paperwork is proof. The more companies that do those things, the fewer opportunists and corner cutters will emerge. Everybody wins: consumers, manufacturers and suppliers, the FDA and FTC, trade magazine editors who don’t have to jazz up another press release about warning letters. 

With that said, if you’re a manufacturer or ingredient supplier reading this month’s posts, and these concepts sound onerous or foreign, you have two choices: grow up or get out. The game not only has changed, but it is constantly changing for companies big and small. The days of being an underdog may be over for the natural products industry, but its members still have to scrap.

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