Creating Confident Consumers Through Third-Party Certification

For a brand like Country Life Vitamins—which has embraced and advocated transparency since 1971—the recent rise in organic, gluten free and non-GMO products is welcome news. Consumers have the right to know precisely what is in their supplements, and 56% of them say better labeling of product and nutritional information builds trust.[1] It’s statistics like those that reinforce our job as manufacturers to make them feel comfortable with the labels.

As more vitamin and supplement manufacturers meet consumer demand by readily providing this certification information, it can sometimes lead to extra confusion in an aisle that already resembles “alphabet soup.” Even if a product meets organic, gluten free, or non-GMO requirements, there are additional factors to consider such as sourcing or quality of ingredients. Consumers are willing to spend 31% more on products that align with their values.[2] For many shoppers, it’s equally important to know about common allergens, and to know that a product fits into their own belief system or special diet, such as a vegan, vegetarian or kosher.

That’s why Country Life has more than 500 products bearing third-party certifications, including approximately 400 certified vegetarian/vegan, more than 240 certified vegan and more than 150 certified kosher products, as well as a USDA organic line of multivitamins. Additionally, our facility in Hauppauge, NY, was the first of a supplement brand to be certified gluten-free by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), meaning all Country Life-manufactured products are certified gluten-free. Our Hauppauge facility is also NSF-GMP compliant, signifying one of the highest standards of manufacturing practices.

Additionally, the brand recently introduced our first Non-GMO Project Verified product, a non-GMO Biotin. While this certification is new, Country Life’s Biotin products have been certified vegan by the AVA, certified gluten-free by GFCO and Kosher Parve for years, and made with non-GMO ingredients. We heard from consumers that this certification was particularly important, and we wanted to provide that extra assurance by going through third-party review.

With many manufacturers submitting products for review, the process took well over a year, and Country Life has more products in the pipeline, awaiting verification. This new Non-GMO Project Verified certification demonstrates our dedication to helping consumers make informed choices so they can live happy, healthy, active lives.

Country Life’s vision is to help people treat themselves well, whether they follow a gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, organic or non-GMO diet. In an industry that’s constantly under the microscope, it’s important for supplement makers to take the guesswork out and make it easier for consumers to select a quality product based on their individual needs. Brands putting their money and minds behind advocating for third-party certification as well as label and ingredient transparency are seeing success and driving change of their own.

One such change is the recent creation of the Coalition for Supplement Sustainability (CSS). A consortium of leading dietary supplement brands and ingredient manufacturers, this group came together with the collective goal to create a more trustworthy industry and maintain sustainable, independently verifiable and transparent standards across the entire supplement supply chain. Bold steps like this from within the natural supplement category reinforce an individual brand’s dedication to the betterment of the supplement industry as a whole. Brands involved in the consortium include Country Life Vitamins, FoodState, Garden of Life, New Chapter, NOW Foods, UAS LifeSciences, Nutralliance, Natural Factors and Rainbow Light.

In the supplement world, which can often be perceived as crowded and confusing, supplement brands can pair transparency of sourcing and ingredients with verification for special diets and beliefs to honestly and authentically communicate with consumers. Country Life’s hope is that more brands recognize this shift in consumer awareness and view it as a positive opportunity to strengthen their image and build consumer trust. WF

Wendy Lucas, GM, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Country Life Vitamins

NOTE: The statements presented in this blog should not be considered medical advice or a way to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Dietary supplements do not treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before adding a dietary supplement to (or removing one from) your daily regimen. WholeFoods Magazine does not endorse any specific brand or product.

Posted on 12/30/2015

[1] Emerging Faith in Food Production, Sullivan Higdon & Sink FoodThink

[2] Gibbs-rbb Strategic Communications, Conscious Consumer Study, N=2,000 American shoppers, 2014