Industry Leaders Hoping to Deliver Seed to Shelf Transparency

The natural products industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, reaching over $200 billion in revenue, up over 20% since 2014. This growth does not come without its challenges. A great example of this is in the dietary supplement sector, where increased demand for product is challenged by a finite supply of ingredients, most of which are sourced and imported globally. This unique set of circumstances presents a major challenge to the industry’s supply chain network. And don’t think the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t know it. A quick perusal of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb’s Twitter feed tells you all you need to know: FDA eyes are on the industry’s supply chains, as the FDA looks to ensure safety for American consumers.

So how are natural products companies adapting to being in growth mode, but staring down a more complex supply chain, and the likelihood of increased scrutiny?  Dr. Anand Swaroop, CEO of Cepham, a leading US based Innovator & Manufacturer of Botanical Raw materials with operations in New Jersey, India, Japan, China and Africa, says his company needed to change its overall approach to Supply Chain Management (SCM). “These days, having high quality, sustainable products, and a strong message isn’t enough, “ says Swaroop. “We needed to find a way to track supplier and buyer transactions and documentation, and be prepared for audits and recalls. It’s the least visible part of the business, but it’s critical to our overall success and building trust with our customers.”

In proactively addressing his SCM challenges, Swaroop focused his energy on emerging technology. He recently integrated a cloud-based, blockchain-enabled supply chain transparency system created by TagOne, a Princeton, NJ based technology company founded by ex-SAP leaders. He’s thrilled with the early results. “TagOne has made an immediate difference. It helped us organize all of our systems into a single interface, and provides a much clearer picture of our overall supply chain. It also gives us significantly more transactional data, which ultimately leads to more trust from customers.“

TagOne’s CEO, TJ Gupta, says that the TagOne system being used by Cepham is the culmination of years of hard work and first-hand learning. “After spending more than a decade helping pharmaceutical companies with supply chain transparency solutions, we saw the transition taking place in the natural products industry, and realized that our solution could be a tremendous asset to natural products executives.” He adds that the TagOne solution, which leverages IoT as well as cloud and blockchain technology, delivers the much-needed transparency that’s critical to both the changing business landscape, and the increasing complexity of the supply chain. A big smile crosses Gupta’s face as he notes that consumers are also big winners here. “Blockchain, being an immutable digital ledger, enables seed to shelf transparency for the first time in history. And in the end, the consumers win because they know what they are putting in their bodies.”

According to Yadim Medore, CEO of Pure Branding, and creators of “The ROI of Transparency” research report, the new level of transparency that blockchain brings to the table will be a huge asset to an increasingly wary consumer base. “For supplier companies that produce ingredients, offer raw materials, or provide contract manufacturing for brands that sell to consumers and/or practitioners, demonstrating supply chain transparency could be the single most important factor that determines the sale. 73% of consumers say that transparency is of value to them, and supplement brands are looking for support in telling their transparency stories.”

As for the future, Gupta notes that ongoing innovation in blockchain will deliver unparalleled transparency up and down the supply chain, from the point of a product’s inception to the moment of purchase at retail.  He says that TagOne is developing new solutions to address different Industry verticals within natural products, and a consumer app that can be used at the point of purchase. “It’s amazing to be able to solve two problems at once: helping businesses thrive in a more complex world, and at the same time, empowering consumers to make better & healthier buying decisions.”