mykind Organics Herbals—Building an Organic Supply Chain
by Jeffrey Brams
Creating the supply chain to launch our new line of mykind Organics herbals was a massive undertaking. All told, the project took us four years, and the majority of the time was spent in two areas: first, building a robust network of organic farms to grow the many different herbs we wanted to include in our new line of products, and second, creating a truly organic (Certified USDA Organic) method for extracting the necessary key active compounds from these herbs without the use of petroleum chemicals or GM-derived alcohols. I asked myself at the outset of the project, “Why is this so hard? After all, these are plant-based herbal medicinal ingredients that have been used in multiple cultures for generations, and in some cases, millennium. And many of them are used regularly for culinary purposes, not just medicinal. So, why is it so hard to find organic ingredients?”
What I quickly learned was that almost all medicinal herbs used in dietary supplements (we generally refer these as “herbal products”) are actually extracts. The industry-wide method for creating many herbal extracts is through the use of harsh chemical solvents, like hexane, which is petroleum-derived, and ethanol coming from genetically modified corn. Because these chemicals are not allowed to be used in a Certified Organic product, demand for Certified Organic herbs was low. Even when there was demand, as in the case of the culinary herb, Turmeric, for example, the organic farms grew on a small scale. There just wasn’t a justification to invest in expanding organic acreage since there were no methods of organic extraction available. Dietary supplements only required (and would pay for) cheaper conventional cultivation.
As a result, we faced a Field Of Dreams problem. We had to promise farmers around the globe that “if you build it” (supply for the organic herbs) we will create a new way of extracting the active compounds that is fully compliant with Certified Organic standards worldwide. Together, we told them, we will create something entirely new.
Thankfully, we have wonderful, innovative vendors and suppliers who partnered with us in this journey. They applied their best experts to the challenges of both building up the network of organic farms, and creating new, reliable extraction methods that were fully organic.