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SupplySide West 2022 lessons: Supply chain challenges, new product trends

supply chain SupplySide West
On Nov. 4, at SupplySide West in Las Vegas, industry leaders discussed supply chain challenges facing the natural products industry. Mark LeDoux (standing), the founder, chairman and CEO of Natural Alternatives International Inc. (NAI), moderated the session.
Industry leaders came together live in Las Vegas, and while stabilized supply chains meant looking ahead to new challenges for many, innovation continued apace and pushed a number of categories even further into the future.

Price spikes and constrained supply chains may have subsided from their pandemic highs, but the future for ingredient inventories and logistics is still an unclear picture, a panel of experts concurred during an education session Nov. 4 at the SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas.

“A lot of our focus now is on the upstream supply chain. We’re looking at what’s going on in the economy, what’s going on with consumer demand, and really trying to decide what we need to do in our supply chain,” explained Melissa Mack, VP of operations at importer Pharmore Ingredients. “We are fortunate enough that we have a full stock inventory now and … very few challenges with raw material supply. For us, it has stabilized quite well, and we are just keeping an eye on those upcoming indicators.”

Brea Viratos, CEO of Columbia Nutritional, revealed other issues related to ingredient supply.

“There’s been stability, but we still are running into challenges on the botanical side. We’re running into a lot of adulterated materials, which then makes it hard to supply our customers,” Viratos told the panel, which was moderated by Natural Alternative International’s (NAI) founder, chairman and CEO, Mark LeDoux. “It’s really important that we provide that quality product and (do proper testing) to find out what it’s been adulterated with, and make sure it doesn’t get back into the market,” she added.

While the costs to transport materials have stabilized somewhat, consumer demand that spiked during the pandemic has led to some residual change in pricing of some ingredients, relayed NOW Health Group’s CEO Jim Emme.

“There are certain items that are in short supply and there are certain items that the cost has just skyrocketed, and we refuse to buy it,” Emme said. “We’ve dropped a couple of products because the cost went literally up 1,500 percent or more. We’re not going to gouge consumers, and we’re also not going to support a false ceiling on pricing.”

New attention from FDA on foreign supplier verification is an area that is requiring an increased amount of commitment, especially at Chinese herb ingredient company Nuherbs, where Wilson Lau is president.

“It’s really important to have the relationships, and the people and the staff on the ground to really do the work, because it’s a continuous system that needs attention every day and every hour, it seems like,” Lau told the audience. “It feels like we’re moving from being botanical experts to being paper experts. That’s the new challenge.”

Show floor trend: Active nutrition

While there were many innovations on full display on the show floor at this year’s SupplySide West, many new products were notable for their focus on active nutrition, and everyday athletes.

When it comes to protein, experimentation with plant-based proteins was really driving innovation, as more and more people turn to protein supplementation whenever they exercise. Some leading examples from this year’s show include California Performance Co’s V-Whey protein powder, Ora’s So Lean and So Clean plant-based superfood and ProteVin from NextFerm.

Plant-based was also a theme for new collagen products, aimed at active supplement takers and also those seeking beauty from within. CollaVegan vegan collagen peptide powder from Select Ingredients, as well as CollaGEM-V from MCB Group, were new products introduced at the show along that trend line.

New sweetener solutions made a splash also, as athletes as well as everyday consumers sought supplement solutions with reduced or sugar-free formulations. Monk fruit from NATCO, and organic agave allulose syrup from Ciranda, were notable sweet new products in Las Vegas this year.

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