You all know him as the Herbal Cowboy. I am new in town (to the herbs and natural products industry) so I approached the situation with no idea what to expect, just a short text from Loren to go meet this “Mark Blumenthal” at the American Botanical Council headquarters, which was only a few blocks away from where I was vacationing in Austin, Texas. It is hard to not have favorites in this industry, especially when we constantly meet and quickly fall in love with so many of our new and seasoned members. We feel very privileged to rub shoulders with the passionate experts in the natural products and dietary supplements industry. BUT I think it is safe to say that Mark is an outlier, as there isn’t an unlikeable bone in his body. We all know him as the Herbal Cowboy, but officially he is Mark Blumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of the American Botanical Council.
I’ve met a lot of fascinating people in my life, but not even a fortune teller could have prepared me for the dynamic person I was about to meet. I got to the Case Mill Homestead around 11am and was immediately greeted by the wonderful ABC team. I introduced myself and my excitement for getting into this industry. I explained to the staff, which is wonderfully courteous by the way, that I came to their location with direct order from Loren Israelsen, to get at least one good photo of “the Herbal Cowboy”.
A few minutes into our small talk Mark walked into the room and greeted the staff he hadn’t seen in months, some meeting for the very first time. It was clear that Mark had been taking this quarantining very seriously, to protect himself and his intimate team. He treats them like family.
Mark greeted me, made me feel especially welcome with a small gift and then introduced me to their Head Gardener, Toby Bernal. We made our way to the gardens outside that were creatively organized by treatments.
Toby has been with ABC for over 11 years and maintains ABC’s 30 medicinal themes and grounds. He gave me a very thorough tour of the homestead, teaching me about plants and how living beings can profit from them. The grounds are beautiful and really ought to be considered a botanical museum. They had several rare varieties, like a Japanese Ginkgo Tree and Ashwagandha.
It appears they grow enough herbs to supply the suburbs of Austin, but Toby informed me that they simply grow to educate/demonstrate how to properly care for each one, as it is almost ever a “just add water” approach. Toby is always in need of assistants and he can only give attention to each segment of the garden once every 30 days. At the end of the season they will hold an event and give away all the excess plants, typically to friends and family of the staff.
At the end of our visit Mark sat down with me, told me a little bit about his lifestyle. He is no one to brag, but he ought to. He told me he hadn’t eaten meat in over 50 years. I opened up about my past and we had what felt like a padawan to Jedi conversation. He gave me some great advice, patted me on the back and gave me a small gift including the industry famous HerbalGram, the journal of the American Botanical Council, before sending me on my way.
What I admired most about Mark Blumenthal was his conduct. As a rookie to the industry I had a lot of questions. I asked him how he feels about the nature of the industry, and if he felt it was becoming competitive with all the new and young entrepreneurs starting to take root. He replied with something that won’t surprise anyone. He said he didn’t feel the competitive nature at all. He said that at ABC they are not here to compete with or take advantage of anyone, they are simply here to help the market. Quality control, conservation and sustainability, that’s their focus. He continued to tell me how we, speaking on behalf of the industry leaders, are all in this together and each association can provide something unique that will in the end benefit the consumers.
In this first installment of a new series that highlights UNPA members, Sanjaya Mariwala, managing director and co-founder of OmniActive Health Technologies, with U.S. headquarters in Morristown, N.J., provides insights on what you should know about this raw material supplier and its history and mission, as well as its current initiatives.
UNPA: What do your customers not know about you that you want them to know?
Mariwala: OmniActive Health Technologies offers a wide range of scientifically validated, sustainable solutions from natural sources to address complex challenges for customers in the dietary supplement and functional food and beverage space. OmniActive brings added value, with a focus on healthy living, as well as healthy aging, through IP-protected, science-backed, branded health-benefit solutions that consumers demand in top categories, including active wellness and physical performance; metabolic health and weight wellness; vision, cognition and mental wellness; and daily energy and productivity performance.
UNPA: Tell us a story that typifies what OmniActive Health Technologies is about?
Mariwala: Our story has been shaped by our proud history in the natural ingredients industry and continues to bring focused attention to health and longevity. OmniActive was created in 2004 with the goal to disrupt the market through innovation; to develop health benefit solutions that improve the lives of people—from the consumer and throughout our supply chain. So, we took a wholistic approach to our science, technologies, manufacturing and partnerships to move toward that goal. We’re constantly trying to improve our science and technologies and to do that requires closer connectivity to our brand partners and to our supply chain. We are integrating the importance of sustainability and supporting the farmers and communities that support us.
Today, OmniActive has two customer-centric segments: Nutritional Innovations & Solutions and Specialty Botanicals & Extracts, which are supported by dedicated business teams to address our customers’ ever-changing needs, with special focus on the categories of healthy living and healthy aging. As a global company, OmniActive’s sales, marketing, operations and R&D teams, as well as our manufacturing facilities, support multiple regions with their own unique market and regulatory requirements.
With our extended product portfolio, we are entering into a new, exciting phase of our business, where we will be delivering solutions that address our consumers’ needs. We believe that supplementing with premium products is the key to help consumers lead healthy, active lives and maintain good health as they age. Building a portfolio of branded ingredients and developing custom formulas is how we help our brand partners stand out in a crowded marketplace and help their consumers lead healthier lives.
As a partner, we ask “How can we help?” because our customer goals are our inspiration—and the catalyst that drives OmniActive to envision and invent new opportunities and solutions. It is with great pride that I can say that the OmniActive family strives to help our customers realize their objectives. I believe that is how OmniActive can improve lives by enhancing nutrition and wellness using science and innovation.
As mentioned, we are also ramping up our sustainability efforts. OmniActive’s Improving Lives Foundation is committed to fostering positive change for the communities, customers and consumers impacted by the company’s products and practices. The tenets of the foundation are built on the idea that every step in our supply chains provides an opportunity for improvement—whether it is a process, an ingredient or the health and wellness of a person or community.
OmniActive has aligned its efforts with the broader initiatives outlined by the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and through the foundation, we currently focus on some of the most pressing issues in rural Indian communities, including reducing treatable eye/vision problems, screening and treating nutrition-related conditions such as anemia, supporting women’s issues and empowerment, and improving sanitation and hygiene. In short, we are proud to bring health benefits for not only consumers, but also to affect positive change all through our value chain, starting with our dedicated farmers.
For more information, contact Deshanie Rai or visit https://omniactives.com/
featured member profileS
A new series that highlights the important work being done by UNPA members.