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Good health above all else: the millennials have spoken…and nutraceuticals companies are listening?

Those millennials are a wily bunch. They won’t open their wallets for just anything, and it shows. Over the last few years, Big Diamond, Big Raisin, and Big Motorcycle, along with scores of other industries were challenged to alter their perception, and their lines to include millennial-friendly products. Harley Davidson is slated to launch an E-bicycle next month for crying out loud! But, it appears there’s a line millennials just won’t cross, and that’s nutraceuticals.

Millennials are willing to put the work in at maintaining optimum health and are leading the way at establishing a healthy lifestyle as their number one priority. They may opt to purchase less expensive gemstones over diamonds and E-bikes over motorcycles because money is tight with this age group, but one area they will gladly spend their money is on healthy living. Nutraceuticals, which are food and beverages with both nutritional and medicinal benefits, offer millennials, and pretty much everyone else naturally sourced food and plant-based options for a healthy diet. These functional foods, supplements, and beverages are all available for purchase over-the-counter and Millennials are helping to drive a multi-billion dollar marketplace that continues to grow. In Canada, the forecasted percentage of growth in nutraceuticals between now and 2027 is 5.7 percent.

A big buzz these days is the development of Nootropics. Researchers and drug-makers are working to develop nootropics: pills, supplements and other substances designed to improve various aspects of cognition in healthy people. Popular nootropics are a mixture of food-derived vitamins, lipids, phytochemicals and antioxidants that studies have linked to healthy brain function. Is the leading edge science or more add some vitamins to your unhealthy diet? Only research and time will tell.

Antioxidants like goji berries and dark chocolate, fortified dairy and cereals, vitamins, herbs, minerals, electrolyte infused waters are all nutraceuticals. Recent additions to the category include C.B.D. It should be noted that any business in Canada that intends to produce, process, and/or sell C.B.D. is required to obtain a license.

Improved digestion, reduced inflammation or cholesterol, strengthened muscle function, better sleep, better mood are just some of the potential health benefits achieved when managing health conditions with nutraceuticals. Healthy individuals looking to boost cognitive function (alertness, memory, creativity, and motivation) are buzzing about nootropic supplements such as fish oils, resveratrol (an antioxidant found in grape/ berry skin, red wine, dark chocolate, and peanuts) Ginkgo Biloba, Creatine or Phosphatidylserine to name a few.

They have gained popularity in today’s highly competitive society and are most often used to boost memory, focus, creativity, intelligence and motivation.

Nutraceuticals: a checkered past

It’s hard to imagine, but there was a time when Coca-Cola was advertised as the “ideal brain tonic” to relieve mental/physical exhaustion. Once the drug, cocaine was deemed to be harmful, the bottlers at Coca-Cola removed what little percentage of the drug was mixed into the syrup. Legend has it that they had only left a minuscule amount of the coca leaf extract in the recipe in the first place just to keep the word “Coca” in the beverage’s name for trademarking purposes.

Or, how about William Rockefeller Sr. peddling a petroleum-based jug of “rock oil” (to set himself apart from the “snake oil” people) as a cancer cure, all while masquerading as a doctor, fake name and all. It truly was an anything goes, cure-all, “step right up, ladies and gentlemen” environment in those days. The effective and true nutraceuticals of today probably would have been considered snake-oil 100 years ago!

Does your nutraceutical business have a crisis management plan prepared?

Any business based in nutraceuticals must always be mindful of the potential risks, including product recalls, liability, contamination, etc. And with the sophisticated and health-conscious millennials on the case, the likes of a William Rockefeller Sr. today wouldn’t get too far before getting caught and publicly destroyed on social media. During the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Calgary-based naturopathic clinic had to walk back a claim they made in an emailed patient newsletter announcing they had developed a supplement that could prevent or treat Covid-19. They damaged both their reputation and that of The Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors.

When your nutraceutical business starts selling a product, your business is at risk for product liability lawsuits, it’s just that simple. For retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors, product liability lawsuits can be expensive, stressful, and time-consuming.

Food contamination and product recalls, whether accidental or malicious, can also have a devastating effect on a company’s reputation and bottom line. Food contamination is almost inevitable and comes in several forms…

  • Accidental product contamination
  • Malicious product tampering
  • Product extortion demand

Food contamination insurance covers the above. Product liability coverage is a necessity for businesses involved throughout the commerce chain. It forms part of your commercial general liability insurance coverage.

Food, beverage, and nutraceuticals processors, wholesalers, and distributors have specific, unique needs. There’s a laundry list of potential events that could occur (and often do) that will sideline the business, seriously affecting income and operations:

The potential for things to go awry in a nutraceutical business can be high, therefore it’s worth it to seek guidance from a Reliance Insurance food expert; a critical step to develop a solid crisis management plan that will always be at the ready, protecting your livelihood 24/7.

Keep up to date on industry-related rule changes

There are some new rules for importing food into Canada beginning March 15, 2021, and this requirement applies to food shipped into Canada by both Canadian and non-resident businesses. Food importers must have a Safe Food for Canadians (SFC) license provided by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The license must be mistake-free and issued before presenting a shipment at the border. The CFIA will automatically reject any meat, fish, dairy, eggs, processed eggs, processed fruits or vegetables, honey, maple, and fresh fruits if the license has not been entered into the Integrated Import Declaration (IID). This change was originally scheduled for July 15, 2020, but was pushed back due to Covid-19.

We’ve come a long, long way from the original “medicine tent” entrepreneurs. Sophisticated laboratories, educated and certified research personnel, studies, testing, and multitudes of consumers sharing online, their personal experiences and successes with nutraceuticals. However, consumers should always discuss what they plan to take with their doctor first, especially if they are on prescribed medicine, chronically ill, are elderly, or a child. In this day and age, due diligence is a must. Check the Government of Canada’s safety and recall list (health products category) for nutraceuticals you might be taking or are considering. Both UBC and the University of Toronto offer online resources for nutraceuticals. Asking the nearest millennial also works in a pinch, too!


Younger consumers are more health-conscious
CB Insights: Millennials killing industries
Nutraceuticals: global markets trajectory
CBC: Clinic apologizes
Reliance Insurance product liability
Government of Canada recall alert
UBC: complementary medicines
University of Toronto

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