NIE Supplier Of The Month
Natural Alternatives International, Inc. (NAI) is a leading formulator, manufacturer and marketer of nutritional supplements and provides strategic partnering services to its customers.
Mark LeDoux founded NAI in 1980. With more than 45 years of experience since joining the nutritional supplements industry in 1975, LeDoux is considered a highly regarded leader and spokesperson for our industry, making him one of the longest serving active executives in the nutritional supplements industry. As chairman of the Board of Directors of the Natural Products Association (NPA), where he has been a member since 1980, LeDoux represents NAI’s ongoing commitment to industry and government affairs, adherence to a strong code of ethics, and continuing support in the legislative, regulatory and public affairs arenas.
NIE: Please discuss NAI’s certifications and why they are important.
LeDoux: NAI’s reputation speaks for itself. We have been in business for 40 years, and we are the only publicly traded corporation which provides all of its financial and operating information quarterly under review by audit and the oversight of the SEC. With products produced in our state-of-the-art facilities in California or in Switzerland, we service the needs of customers serving over 40 countries worldwide.
We are the only company to have certification by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration for 19 consecutive years, and we have Swissmedic certifications of our Swiss facilities. Likewise, we are an organic processor in the USA, and have been involved in leading the charge for better transparency in regulations and testing for four decades.
NAI has a philosophy that there are no secrets when it comes to the safety of consumers and products they consume. Therefore, under contract and appropriate confidentiality and quality agreements we share everything with our client partners. Surprises should be positive, not negative experiences.
A group of industry leaders is currently working together under the Supplement Safety Compliance Initiative (SSCI), which is a retailer-driven initiative, seeking to establish benchmarks for inspections of manufacturing facilities and processes.
Too often in the past, companies have run afoul of FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) warning letters shortly after having been given a passing bill of health by an independent GMP (good manufacturing practice)-certifying body that is a private corporation. At SSCI we are actively working on finalizing our benchmarking protocols and asking all certifying bodies to submit their programs for evaluation. After that is completed, the Board of Directors of SSCI will be opening a dialogue with FDA regarding interfacing with the agency to help reduce obvious concerns by the agency findings, and to reduce “audit tourism” of multiple facilities. This will strengthen the value of these third-party certifications and open up the opportunity to extend the process further downstream (or upstream) to the raw material providers.
NIE: How has NAI had to adjust during the COVID-19 pandemic? What trends do you think the dietary supplement industry will see as a result?
LeDoux: With the surge in demand, NAI has been very open and transparent with our customers concerning bottlenecks in not only raw material concerns but in packaging components given the surge in demand for bottles, caps and other essential components. Companies like NAI, with pristine balance sheets who have adequate systems, are in much better position to secure added materials, as well as plan production in a manner which maximizes efficiencies. NAI is staffed with critical-thinkers and has deployed our capital in an intelligent manner to secure adequate and reasonable safety stocks for commodities and essential unique components, so we were able to have a head-start in preparation for the onslaught of order demand. This helped NAI to keep costs low and increase profits as the demand/pricing increased. It was also helpful that the dietary supplement business was considered essential by the Department of Homeland Security, and with adequate safeguards and systems in place to guard against COVID outbreaks, quality-focused companies like NAI have flourished.
NAI will source raw materials and produce more goods domestically. One of the things that the pandemic exposed is how reliant we are on other countries for both raw materials and production. Many countries including the USA are starting to think much harder about the requirements around manufacturing and sourcing within their own borders. Companies who have long sourced raw materials and production overseas for savings are now realizing the importance of being able to do this domestically.
NIE: In 2019, CarnoSyn beta-alanine received the Novel Ingredient and Science Award from the NPA. What does the award mean to the company?
LeDoux: The Novel Ingredient and Science Award is bestowed annually upon a person or company who has developed an innovative ingredient with far reaching applications, clinical disease utility, health benefit, or regulatory safety achievement, demonstrated through sound scientific research. The NPA recognized NAI for its leadership in the industry, commitment to innovation, research and performance, and its perseverance to go above and beyond—achieving new dietary ingredient (NDI) status from the FDA for CarnoSyn beta-alanine. Our growing list of awards and certifications, such as the 2019 Novel Ingredient and Science Award from the NPA, have helped to establish CarnoSyn as a trusted brand and the only choice for tested, patented and pure beta-alanine. NAI’s commitment to continued investigation using proper scientific discipline is bolstered by this recognition and others, in our enduring quest to enrich the world with the best of nutrition.