Slow. Careful. Conservative.
These are the words that describe OptiPure's approach to doing business and introducing ingredients into the marketplace. Owned by the Japanese chemical company Kenko Corporation, the 20-year-old OptiPure tries to keep its focus on ingredients that can fulfil a unique niche.
The company has a solid stable of items such as ginkgo, co-Q10, and green tea and bilberry extracts, but it is also determined to successfully launch a host of new items.
"We are approaching new product development by looking at areas that have not been broached, or areas where the health benefit a product could offer brings some nuance to the way it attacks the indication, or where the indication has never been broached as an alternative-health product," says OptiPure's president, Ron Udell. "Some of these have to do with the population in its late 30s and up, the younger baby boomers, and those who look at alternative health and prevention."
One such area is the problem of visceral fat, and the health hazards that stem from an abundance of such fat. "We're going to introduce a new product \[that addresses this issue\] in November," Udell says, "complete with lots of information on clinical trials and so on." Emphasising the company's philosophy, he says, "We won't take on products today unless they have extensive backup in terms of the clinical data, and safety and toxicity data, and benefit studies, as well."
He points with some pride to another ingredient, this one branded. "Take GlucoHelp, for instance. It's an acylic acid-driven product that has been tested successfully with prediabetic individuals to help control their blood-sugar levels.
"Our real emphasis consistently is on truth in marketing and the legitimacy of the active ingredients. We are on a playing field with ethical companies, and it is important how we conduct ourselves. We do our business on legitimacy not on hype. A high standard of conduct is essential in today's marketplace," he says. "We, as an industry, must be self enforcing, so that we don't get a black eye. When the pharma industry decides to take a swat at us, which it is likely to do, we can't leave ourselves open to that.
"All of us \[in the natural-ingredients supply industry\] know the FDA will be coming to our plants under the new GMPs. But the GMPs don't do as much for the quality as they do the operating procedures. Someone could be moving poor-quality product even under this regime. That's why it is so important to have high standards," Udell says.
"There are areas of nutrition that you can skinny the actives in two different ways. You may be able to squeak things through that cost less using some testing method that falsely indicates efficacy, but that is not good for anyone. It goes on with ginkgo and other substances."
It is one of the reasons for branding one's product, Udell says. "We have found that in terms of differentiating a quality you have, a quality virtue, \[branding\] is an important thing. You know, you can only be the unique supplier of something for so long, even if you were litigious, and so without having quality, it is hard to differentiate yourself from others."
Therefore, OptiPure uses outside testing, as well as its own extensive quality assurance and quality-control labs, to ensure that standard. "We should be the first to know if we're creating any hazard," Udell says. "We need to protect ourselves. That's why we're really conservative."