Doctor’s Best CEO discusses China, supply chain and DSHEA - video

Doctor's Best CEO Gale Bensussen discussed the 'wild west' days of the 1970s in the supplements industry during a wide-ranging interview in October in Las Vegas.

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

December 14, 2023

At a Glance

  • Doctor's Best CEO Gale Bensussen was interviewed at SupplySide West.
  • Bensussen has worked in the sector for half a century.
  • Bensussen weighed in on the pros and potential cons of consolidation, investments in China, DSHEA and more.

At SupplySide West in October, I interviewed Gale Bensussen, the CEO of supplements brand Doctor’s Best, founded in 1990.

The interview was a chance to explore the past and present with a chief executive who’s been working in the industry for half a century beginning in 1973.

Asked to paint a picture of the industry when he began his career, Bensussen responded, in part, “It was filled with entrepreneurs smoking cigars, smoking cigarettes, and talking about health and nutrition. It was a wild west, like nothing you’ve ever seen.”

As to the consumer demographic in those days, Bensussen reflected, “Well you know the famous portrait of the little lady from Pasadena. She wore tennis shoes. She went into a health food store. She bought weird things. She came home and she lived forever. Well, that was the health food trade in the industry.”

The wide-ranging interview explored everything from the evolution of brick-and-mortar stores carrying supplements and the present consumer demographic to the pros and potential cons of consolidation.

“The supplement consumer today is well educated, has a good solid median income, is interested in living life longer, younger, and frequents the internet to get a lot of their information about what to buy, where it comes from, how it’s made [and] what it does,” Bensussen said.

He added, “I think that as the consumer becomes more well-informed, they’ll be more discriminatory about what they buy and who they buy from. I think the brands have a real strong position because of their reputation, but there are a lot of small brands coming into the marketplace that are pretty strong also.”

We also discussed investments in China and whether the bad reputation China now and again gets within industry is warranted.

“There is tremendous investment going on in China in the manufacturing of raw materials, and I’m talking world-class manufacturing,” declared Bensussen, who had visited the country before attending SupplySide West.

Bensussen further addressed my questions about diversifying the supply chain in the wake of Covid-19, the benefits of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) and whether reform to the law is needed.

DSHEA, he concluded, has “worked for consumers.”

“Look at the number of consumers that are taking supplements today that didn’t take them 30 years ago,” Bensussen said. “A lot of them are now learning more about these supplements. They trust them and they take them.”

About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

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