Adopting a seed-to-supplement approach for decades, Nutrilite’s supplements are today made with ingredients derived from plants grown on more than 2,400 hectares of the company-owned farms and nearly 100 partner farms across the globe.
Amway farms are located in the US and Brazil, and the Amway Botanical Research Center (ABRC) is in Wuxi, China.
Moving forward, a key focus area for the company is regenerative agriculture. In particular, it believes traceability will help ensure that its products remain safe and effective.
“Sustainable farming has always been at the heart of the brand. My father, Nutrilite founder Carl Rehnborg, began using organic farming practices in the 1940s before we even knew to call it organic farming.
“A true focus for our next phase, regenerative agriculture sees all contributors to the ecosystem as a connected network that enhance, exchange, distribute and consume, instead of a linear supply chain. It is a style of farming that aims to restore soil and ecosystem health, address inequity, and leave our land, waters and climate in better shape for future generations. It goes hand in hand with what we were already doing on our farms,” Dr Sam Rehnborg, Amway’s Enterprise Health & Wellness Ambassador, told NutraIngredients-Asia.
Notably, the environmental effects of climate change have presented increasing challenges for farmers, such as heat stress on the plants due to “much hotter than normal” weather condition for the past few summers.
To overcome these challenges, Amway farms and partner farms have introduced several regenerative agriculture practices.
These include minimising land tillage to prevent erosion and the killing of natural organisms that enrich the soil, and reducing the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
Instead of leaving the land bare after the main crop has been harvested, the farmers plant cover crop to enhance soil condition, water retention, weed suppression, and erosion prevention. This in turn helps maintain the land as permanent pasture.
“By integrating animals into the farm, livestock manure cuts down the need for chemical fertilisers. At the same time, permanent pastures can trap large amounts of carbon and water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and runoff pollution.”
In addition, increasing plant diversity builds healthy soils to better retain water and nutrients. It can also provide other sources of revenue for the farm, as well as benefit members of the natural ecosystem such as pollinators.
“Our farms also try to keep living roots in the soil as much as possible to stabilise the soil, and continually cycle water and nutrients so these valuable resources don’t wash away,” Dr Rehnborg shared.
Efforts to meet demand
According to Dr Rehnborg, Nutrilite’s farms are “impressive but not large or diverse enough” to supply the ingredients that go into all of its products.
The brand’s key markets in Asia include China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.
“Our flagship supplement alone, Nutrilite Double X, contains as many as 19 different plant nutrients. And if you count all the different plant ingredients in our line-up, the number exceeds 190. That is why we can’t source every botanical from our own farms — not to mention that many of our ingredients come from unique geographic locales around the world.”
This led to the establishment of the NutriCert certification programme, a supply chain management system that has been in place since 2004.
“Through NutriCert, we partner with farmers who share our values. The programme requires partner farms to be traceable, ecologically sustainable, and socially responsible. This way, we can access and use plants that wouldn’t flourish on our own farms.
“On both our farms and partner farms, we can monitor every step from seed to finished product. We can even trace a plant back to the field where it was sowed and grown. The Nutrilite botanical traceability standard, powered by NutriCert and owned by Amway, is the leading global standard in the supplements industry.”
Some of NutriCert’s requirements include farm operations that enhance biodiversity, agricultural practices that promote food safety, and documentation of farm management plans and production activities.
“The partnerships benefit everyone involved. Farmers benefit financially, and we benefit by expanding our supply chain in a controlled way without compromising quality. Finally, consumers benefit as we meet the ever-increasing demand,” Dr Rehnborg concluded.