30 Years Later, Rainbow Light Is Still Shining

Santa Cruz, CA—Supplement maker Rainbow Light marked its 30th anniversary this year, and kicked off the celebrations in March with a festive Expo West booth and later a private party for its employees in Santa Cruz. Founder and president Linda Kahler recalls this festive event and says, “It’s pretty important to step back and take a moment to look at our achievements.”

The company, which is most famous for its food-based supplements, has much to reflect on. Always looking to expand its already double-digit growth numbers, Rainbow Light is a serious and dedicated innovator for the nutrition community.

In a unique educational promotion done to highlight its 30th, the company created and installed “Bone IQ” booths in stores across the country that brought this otherwise expensive bone-density test right to the consumer aisles. As an in-store promotion for calcium products, the test is also a service for people to acknowledge their health and make decisions that could prevent osteoporosis and other issues. At the time of this interview, Kahler said that over 17,000 customers took the Bone IQ test.

“Some people were happy to hear the results of their scan, while others thought, ‘Uh oh, better start taking that calcium,’” she said. “Overall, it was a great opportunity for us to engage in a more extensive customer outreach.”

In terms of a more global outreach, Rainbow Light has been a platinum supporter of the organization Vitamin Angels, since the beginning. Among other programs, the organization is a way for pregnant mothers and their children in third-world countries to receive the prenatal and regular vitamins they so desperately need. Kahler says Rainbow Light plans to take part in another distribution trip in 2012, as a way to save many mothers and children from malnutrition. In light of a past trip to Haiti a few years ago, Kahler states, “There were dramatic improvements in mortality rates for pregnant women and their infants. The simple change of adding prenatal vitamins to their diet was really astounding.”

The company also promotes environmental awareness in its packaging as well as its organic ingredients. Rainbow Light continues to be one of the only supplement makers that bottles its supplements in 100% post-consumer recyclable, BPA-free plastic. This already has reduced the company’s carbon footprint by 92%. In relation to fossil fuels, Kahler expressed her earnestness by saying, “We feel compelled to keep the fuel in the earth for as long as possible. It has a life cycle of forever, but we want to keep that resource in constant play.”

The downside to this method is the cost, in which this eco-friendly packaging is much more expensive to produce than regular plastic. Although the company has counteracted these extra expenses and remained a pioneer for environmental improvements, Kahler says, “I hope everybody makes the switch. I think consumer awareness is a big part of this environmental issue, and things are different than they were several years ago. If companies make the change, so can consumers.”

Kahler has every reason to remain optimistic about Rainbow Light’s future. “We’ve adapted to the world around us; we’ve been nimble. But at our core, we’ve always held true to our same values.” This dynamic relationship the company has with its consumers and its mission statements has cemented this rainbow’s place in the sky.

“I think in the same way we’ve endeavored to grow 30 years ago,” she concludes, “we’re still able to take great pride in working to build stronger health for our customers, our trade partners, our global community, and our planet.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, December 2011