In response to the request, the Council for Responsible Nutrition and the American Herbal Products Association surveyed member companies to identify possible bottlenecks that could plague the industry in the coming weeks.
The federal government said today that the peak of the wave of infections is still a few weeks away. President Trump said the United States faces a “Two painful weeks”as the death toll exceeds 4,000 and the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States approaches 190,000. According to The New York Times, Some projections indicate that the death toll in the United States could reach 100,000. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called the crisis the biggest global challenge since World War II.
Recognizing the gravity of the crisis, Nick Westott, director of advance for the US Department of Agriculture, sought advice from CRN and AHPA on the challenges their members foresee in the coming weeks. CRN did a quick tally of the resultsof its investigation; AHPA would be working on an answer today.
Globalized crisis targets a globalized industry
One of the underlying structural issues is that the dietary supplement industry is globalized and the disease crisis is affecting some of the major sources of ingredient supply. The problems in China are well documented. The country more or less closed for business from the end of January is only now starting to resume normal commercial activity. Up to 80% of the food supplement ingredient supply (depending on the ingredient and who is measuring it) comes from China.
A new developing issue is the lockdown in India which started just a few days ago. Suppliers contacted there said their operations were deemed essential and could therefore remain open, but it is unclear how the restrictions will affect the internal movement of goods and, more importantly, the mobility of workers. Although there are still only a few documented cases of the disease in the country (the website ncov2019.liveputs the number at around 1,600 for now), officials fear the overcrowded urban centers in the county are ideal conditions for the rapid spread of the virus. Confirmed cases have reportedly increased 240% in the past 24 hours.
The humble bottle takes center stage
Based on feedback from its members, CRN has identified several key issues that could restrict the supply of dietary supplements, functional food ingredients and finished products in the coming months. The supply chain in general does not have sufficient capacity to cope with the huge increase in demand for any ingredient that is in immune health. Vitamin C, zinc, elderberry and other ingredients have seen demand increase by orders of magnitude in recent weeks.
Other problems rarely mentioned in the manufacture of dietary supplements have become headaches.
“We had difficulty in obtaining bottles”,said Chris Shade, CEO of Louisville, CO-based Quicksilver Labs, which markets a variety of dietary supplements. “The so-called Boston Rounds and the ball bottles are in short supply because I think a lot of them are made in China. ” CRN members also said that lids and other packaging materials are also very scarce.
Another major supply chain issue is general transportation disruption. Shade said many premium ingredients come from air cargo and international flight schedules are chaotic. The problem improves slightly on flights from Europe, Shade said. Members of the CRN also said that while dietary supplement operations have been classified as critical by the US Department of Homeland Security, orders for local and state shelters in place have affected staffing levels, which has a negative impact on staffing levels. impact on operations.
NutraIngredients-USA will address specific ingredient supply issues in a series of follow-up articles. In general, the survey of CRN members said that shipments from Europe would be delayed by at least a month, and delays from India have yet to be determined. Shade said vitamin C from both China and a Scottish source is starting to enter the U.S. market, but elderberry stocks are running out and he’s not sure when more might be available.