Stories behind the ingredients: Natural Remedies seeks to meet demand for botanical transparency and sustainability
The India-based botanical extract ingredient supplier said that the trend, which began in the West, has been gaining traction in Asia.
“Consumers want to be associated with brands that are associated with clean energy and are socially responsible. They are not just concerned about the quality of the products, but also how sustainable they are.
“Thus, our customers want to present the story behind the botanical ingredients used in the products to the consumers, and so, the traceability of raw botanical materials becomes important.
“This trend [on the importance of traceability] is becoming global. It used to be more prevalent in the US market, but it is coming to Asia’s big corporations as well,” Abey Thomas, head of global marketing told NutraIngredients-Asia.
This has led Natural Remedies to adopt a more stringent set of internal processes to ensure good practices.
At the moment, India has put in place voluntary certification scheme for medicinal plant produce (VCSMPP), where Good Agricultural Practices and Good Field Collection Practices certificates are given.
The certification is conducted by the National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) and the Quality Council of India (QCI).
The company has already obtained four Good Agricultural Practices certifications for its holy basil (Ocimum sanctum), ashwangandha (withania somnifera), Andrographis paniculata, and brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) raw materials.
These botanicals are developed into the company’s clinically tested braded ingredients, namely 1) BacoMind – a brahmi-based ingredient for meeting memory, attention and focus needs, 2) AP-Bio (also known as KalmCold in Europe) – an ashwagandha ingredient for immune health, and 3) OciBest – a holy basil ingredient for stress and sleep.
Believing more could be done to improve aspects such as raw material traceability and sustainability, the company has put in place the HerbSecure program.
Aside from Good Agricultural Practices and Good Collection Practices, the program will cover three other aspects, namely Good Manufacturing Practices, Good Laboratory Practices, and Good Quality Practices.
In fact, the company has also obtained some of these certifications, such as the GMP certificate issued by the Ministry of AYUSH and accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) India.
Working on traceability
Using the Systems, Applications, Products (SAP) system, Thomas said that the company has been working on traceability by tracking and storing data on the farms in which the raw materials have been harvested from. The data can then be shared with the customers for their reference.
Doing so allows the company to tell the story behind its branded botanical ingredients to its customers.
In turn, the brand owners can communicate the story on how a plant is being cultivated and what has been done to help the farmers to their consumers in their product marketing process.
He gave the example of an US MNC which has been using its botanical traceability information to craft its marketing story to consumers. The MNC uses the brahmi-based ingredient BacoMind and ashwagandha ingredient AP-Bio.
“The GAP certifications for the four herbs is an important step in our journey to become fully sustainable.
“Accountability, transparency and precision in testing and record-keeping are all components of creating safe, efficacious herbal health products. More new consumers are using our products and trust that they are safe and effective. These attributes start with us, the grower and supplier,” CEO Anurag Agarwal said.
Expanding the program
In total, the company deals with over 100 different herbs and have intiated the HerbSecure program for the business-critical herbs.
Thomas said the firm has been hoping to expand the program to cover all ingredients and extracts that it has been selling.
The two other branded ingredients not yet covered by the HerbSecure program currently are Turmacin – a turmerosaccharides-based ingredient for joint and cartilage health and GutGard – an ingredient derived from liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) for digestive health.
The company also sells botanical extracts of ashwagandha, centella, triphala, ginger, and garcinia etc.