Supplement Perspectives

How One Company Vets Its International Suppliers

Vinod Khanijow, executive vice president of HerbaKraft, Inc., explains how his company gets what it needs and wants on a consistent basis.

The globe and its seven continents have many riches in natural resources to harvest for humanhealth. And although the United States has outstanding capabilities—not only in cultivating its native species and some imported ones for dietary supplements, but also in manufacturing and processing natural nutraceuticals not botanically derived—we must often turn to those resources available to us globally.

Bringing in those globally sourced materials isn't a cut-and-dried, one-size-fits-all process.

Knowledge "of the job" is very essential. Our operation has partnered with the growers and processors who are experienced, and who understand their responsibilities in the supply chain. Our farmers around the world, who vary in languages, culture, and social responsibilities are being trained and motivated to adapt to our standards of best agricultural practices, with a primary focus on sustainability and the environment. 

When you make a commitment to source from another nation, it is essential to help farmers at every stage of farming, from soil preparation to identifying the right starting material, so they are mindful of ensuring that starting material has the best ability to live up to your standards through an often rigorous chain of testing. We ensure that farmers are also trained for sustainable harvesting, crop growth is monitored and both the soil and water are regularly tested.

There is an interview process and a touring of the fields. We select our partners very carefully, and scrutinize their performance, discern their willingness to adapt to ever-changing requirements, and ensure they follow good business ethics and transparency—these are some of the key factors we always look before initiating any partnership programs.

All the material from the farms to processing is tested for its morphological identification, species, extraneous impurities and an extractive value before any processing is done. In processing, testing is performed for various parameters. Before material is shipped, it is again tested for heavy metals and microbiological assays are used against approved specifications. We do maintain a fully accredited quality control lab at manufacturing sites. All this is essential before the material is shipped home and to customers.

Our third-party vendors are audited as per NSF/GMP norms and are approved before any actual transactions; all records are maintained and are available for audit by customers and regulatory authorities. This transparency is key for our customers because if any material does not pass muster, we can follow it down the line to origins, and then figure out precisely where along the chain the lot or batch may have lost its original quality.

The very dynamics of our industry is based on different varieties of the ingredients that research teams have used in their clinical settings. For example, Eurycoma longifolia is a Malaysian herb used primarily for supporting stamina and energy in adult males. It is of the genus Eurycoma, but the research has been performed on E. longifolia, not its E. apiculata, E. latifolia or E. harmandiana. The same may be said for the abundant North American herb, Echinacea purpurea, which has a significant body of research showing its immune moderating properties, instead of relatives E. pallida, etc.

The clear and present advantage we see in working with global resources is the ability to obtain the right and authentic species and unadulterated material from each source.

Suppliers such as our company are constantly working to create and sustain strong, enduring relationships with the numerous growers, farmers and processors all across the globe in order to bring the best of health-promoting botanicals the world has to offer to American consumers via brand manufacturers and marketers.

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