Traceability of Herbal Supplements

, 7 minute read

Quick summary: Nutraceuticals are products derived from food sources that provide both nutritional and medicinal benefits. They could be referred to as nutritional or herbal supplements. Ashwagandha and Curcumin are the leading contributors to the manufacture of nutraceuticals. Complete transparency in the nutraceutical supply chain as consumers have the right to know the farm-to-bottle story of the product so that they can make informed choices of buying the product.

People today are looking to improve their health with natural remedies and supplements. Nutritional supplements, Dietary supplements, or called Food supplements are supplements taken to deliver nutrients that are not normally consumed in the right quantities in our daily diets. These can be vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats in the form of tablets, pills, capsules, powder, gels, and liquids. These are available in various combinations with different dosages.  

What are the benefits of nutritional supplements? 

These supplements provide vital nutrients for a healthy body. Some of them may also reduce the risk of disease. Supplements are not replacements for food, they only fortify the healthiness of a diet. Supplements cannot be marketed for curing diseases, or treating or preventing them. Legally, no such claims can be made. Due to changing lifestyles, not many get to eat a healthy diet. This leads to deficiencies of vitamins and minerals in the body causing health problems. Especially intake of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Iodine, and Vitamin B12 is critical for body functioning. 

What are nutraceuticals? 

Nutraceuticals are products derived from food sources that provide both nutritional and medicinal benefits. They could be referred to as nutritional supplements. They contain a high concentration of bioactive compounds which are derived from natural sources and aid in the treatment of diseases. It normally provides protection from chronic ailments. Nutraceuticals have evolved from traditional background to a scientific field where their safety and efficacy are proven by research and technology. Nutraceuticals provide an easy way of getting a dose of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which play a role in preventing diseases. 

The term nutraceuticals combine the word nutrients and pharmaceutical. Nutraceuticals are products that are derived from food sources with extra benefits of health and the nutritional value found in food. Nutraceutical products generally promote well-being and the ingredients come from plant and animal sources. India has 7000 plants that contribute to medicines and nutraceuticals and 1200 plants are actively traded. Ashwagandha and Curcumin are the leading contributors. 

Nutraceutical Market 

The global nutraceuticals market is forecast to reach US$652.6 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 4 % during the period 2022-2030. 

Today Curcumin and Ashwagandha combined together command over $278 million globally! 

The Nutraceutical industry can alone contribute $100 billion by 2030

Covid-19 had a positive impact on the global nutraceutical industry. This was mainly due to the demand for healthy and nutritional products and as a preventive measure to counter deficiencies. Though the Indian nutraceutical market has been export-oriented, owing to consumer awareness of health, there has been growth in the domestic sector also. 

Challenges in the Nutraceutical journey 

  • Raw material disparity 

Due to a lack of regulatory standards, the raw materials used in these products vary with regard to quality. 

  • Source of Raw materials 

With the increasing demand for transparency, consumers want to know where the raw materials were sourced from. 

  • The entire supply chain is fragmented with no collaboration among the participants  
  • Sustainability claims need to be validated  
  • Lack of quality standards and authentication of product at each stage renders it vulnerable to risks. 
  • Prevalence of mislabeling and fraud is rampant. 
  • Ashwagandha and turmeric are the important ingredients used and are susceptible to changes in climate, especially heavy rainfall. 
  • Inconsistent supply of raw materials triggers adulteration practices. 
  • Single supplier vulnerability 
  • The processing and downstream activities need to be streamlined to increase production efficiency and reduce costs.

Traceability Solutions for Nutraceuticals 

There has been significant growth in the consumption of nutritional supplements all over the world, especially in Europe. Though the ingredients used are all-natural, it is necessary that the various risks associated with food security in the supply chain should be addressed.

There is a need for transparency and traceability in the supply chain. The ability to track the product from its source to consumption is vital to avoid food mishaps which could affect millions of lives and cause economic losses to companies. A traceability solution would help to authenticate the product and showcase the farm to fork journey of the product and build trust in the consumer and also fulfill the demands of regulators. 

The traceability journey starts from tracking the source of ingredients used, producing and manufacturing, distribution and retail, and finally the end consumer. The data at each stage needs to be recorded and shared if necessary. In these supplements, it could start with how the ingredients were grown or sourced, how the seeds were farmed and harvested, how it was processed, and under what conditions were they handled assuring safety and quality.

There are multiple participants in this chain and it is necessary that there is coordination among all of them. The crop and farm practices can be monitored to ensure transparency and quality of the end product. Certifications carried out during the process for quality control can also be shared among all the participants thereby assuring visibility in the process and ensuring food safety

As a part of the clean and sustainability movement, the consumers want to know about the product they are purchasing. They would want to know if the ingredients were sourced ethically and are free from contamination. According to the Council of Responsible Nutrition (CRN) consumer survey 2019 dietary supplement usage is at an all-time high in the US with 77% of US adults reporting they consume these supplements. The efficacy of the product depends on the quality of the ingredients and it is essential for the processors to be able to trace back the product to its source in the event of any product recalls. Quality standards also needs to be adhered to ensure regulatory and safety compliance. 

Blockchain Traceability Solutions 

In the light of high profile product recalls in the nutritional sector, blockchain technology has increasingly addressed the challenges. Blockchain technology has revolutionized this  sector with effective traceability systems. The digital ledger technology captures real-time data of the various stages in the product life cycle and provides an immutable record of all transactions. The collaborative platform builds trust among the stakeholders with access to permissioned shared data. Certificates can be uploaded as digital records and they provide a verified audit trail.  

Benefits of Blockchain Traceability in Nutraceutical product Value chain 

  • Ensures Food safety and mitigates risks due to contamination and fraud 
  • Aids in Product Recalls with efficient Track and Trace systems
  • Saves costs with targeted recalls 
  • Compliance with Regulatory standards 
  • Helps to build trustworthy Consumer brands 
  • Validation of Sustainability claims of products. 

CannSol Science AG is a subsidiary of CannSol Holding AG that works with high-quality nutritional supplements in Europe. Every step of production takes place in Switzerland and meets the highest quality standards. The focus is on sustainability, purity and naturalness. TraceX’s blockchain-powered traceability solution helps Cannsol in the digitization of its processes to realize an authentic product. The blockchain enables Cannsol to have all the stakeholders on a common platform, thereby providing trust and transparency to all. Peep into what TraceX is doing for Cannsol. 

Complete transparency in the nutraceutical supply chain is important and no manufacturing company can choose to ignore it. Consumers have the right to know the farm-to-bottle story of the product so that they can make informed choices of buying the product. With the complexity of the supply chain and its logistics increasing day by day, there is a necessity for traceability systems to be in place.

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