Founded in 1968, NOW Foods (Nutrition for Optimal Wellness) pioneered the supplements world. It remains one of the best because it sticks to its mission to provide value in products and services. NOW Foods is one of those companies that just moved right along with the times and remained relevant in the health and fitness industry through the years. For this reason, NOW has been chosen as the Bodybuilding.com Supplement Company of the Month for August 2011.
Rich Graham, Account Representative with NOW, spoke with Bodybuilding.com about the supplement landscape and what is in store for the industry giant in the near future.
Can you please tell our readers how NOW started?
NOW Foods was founded in 1968 by Elwood Richard. At the time, Mr. Richard ran a small health food store. One day a customer came in the store and accused Elwood of price gouging. He claimed he found a product he normally bought from Elwood's store for a lower price at the local supermarket.
After a second person did this, Elwood vowed he would never again be beaten on price, and started NOW Foods as a manufacturer and supplier of high-quality natural products. It allowed him to better control costs and pass along savings to his customers. From these humble beginnings, NOW grew into the No. 1 brand of supplements in the natural products industry by staying true to the principle NOW was founded on - high quality natural products at a price anyone can afford.
Can you tell us about some of the other important people who helped NOW succeed in the beginning?
Elwood's brothers, Lou and Bill, as well as his son Dan, were instrumental in the company's success during NOW's formative years. They still play a role to varying degrees. NOW started as a family-owned company and remains one today. The company's board of directors is composed almost exclusively of Richard family members, and the third generation of family has begun working at the company.
Can you tell us a little more about Elwood's background in the supplement industry?
Elwood attended Monmouth College, focused on biochemistry and earned his B.S. degree. During his high school and college years, he constantly studied natural products and how they could help athletes better their performance. His passion for natural products and their health benefits started at an early age and carried on throughout his professional career.
Elwood and his brother Lou helped found the National Nutritional Foods Association's (NNFA) Standards Committee, which since grew into the Natural Products Association's Tru-Label and GMP programs. From the beginning, Elwood was a staunch supporter of the natural products industry and played a vital role in the industry's successful rise.
What are some of NOW's top products right now?
Our new BetterSteviaTM is one of our most popular products. It's a new, enzymatically-treated Stevia which eliminates the bitter aftertaste (which appeals to just about everyone). With more and more people watching their blood-sugar levels and caloric intake, BetterSteviaTM is uniquely positioned to appeal to the health-conscious consumer. In addition, our new Sugar-Free Drink Sticks, which are sweetened with BetterSteviaTM, have been a big hit on the market.
Are there any new and exciting products NOW is coming out with soon?
NOW introduces 4-5 new products per month on average, so there are ALWAYS new and exciting products on the horizon. Probably the most noteworthy introduction coming this year will be the overhaul of our natural foods category. In addition to adding many new products, we're also completely re-designing the packaging, dividing foods into four sub-categories: Real Food (natural & organic), Living Now (gluten-free), Gourmet & Specialty and Natural Sweeteners (including BetterSteviaTM). The new packaging is exceptional and should appeal to consumers and retailers alike.
Has NOW sponsored anyone, and if so, how have they impacted your company and the industry?
NOW typically hasn't sponsored athletes or celebrities in the past. However, this year we signed our first major athletic spokesperson, Ivan Radcliff, a World Class Olympic bobsledder who has used NOW products for years. Ivan contacted us late in 2010 and told us how he used NOW products long term and never had any issues with random drug tests performed by the International Olympic Committee.
He's a big believer in the purity and potency of NOW products and wants to spread the word to other athletes and consumers. Ivan had an immediate impact on NOW due to his unsolicited enthusiasm for our products. We feel he will have a positive impact on both the natural products and sports nutrition industries as his story and confidence in the purity and effectiveness of NOW products gets out.
Let's say a customer comes to you who is just starting out and can only afford one product. Which one do you recommend and why?
Tough question, there are so many essential natural products for human health. If forced to recommend one it would probably be a comprehensive multivitamin, such as NOW's Adam & Eve Men's & Women's Multiple Vitamins. The human body is a finely-tuned machine. It needs the proper ratio of nutrients to operate at peak health and efficiency. With so much processed food in today's diets, the need for multivitamin supplementation has never been greater.
What do you believe are the best and worst things about the supplement industry?
The best thing about the supplement industry is the people. There aren't many industries out there with people as passionate as the people in our industry. They're dedicated and devoted to improving the health and wellness of others. As with any business, profit is the goal, but the majority of companies in this industry place equal or even greater value on improving health through high-quality, affordable products, and that says a lot.
The worst thing would be the few bad-apple companies, which are only concerned with profit and don't take product quality and safety seriously. These companies fuel the notion that the industry isn't regulated and that most natural products aren't labeled accurately. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The new federal GMP's (Good Manufacturing Practices) have put new safeguards and procedures in place to ensure that legitimate companies focused on quality succeed, while fly-by-night companies only concerned with profits go the way of the dinosaur - extinct and never to return!
Before we wrap this up, is there anything else you would like to share or is there anyone you would like to thank or give a shout out to?
NOW Foods mission is "to provide value in products and services that empower people to lead healthier lives". We're one of the top-selling brands in our industry because people trust the quality of our products and appreciate the affordability. Elwood Richard started NOW to provide natural products at the lowest possible cost.
We're proud to say that more than 40 years later, we still adhere to the same principles that got us where we are. If there's anyone to thank it would be the management and employees at NOW. Every day they strive to provide quality and value, and their efforts are the main reason NOW has been so successful, and continues to experience explosive growth in a depressed economy. There is no substitute for great quality at an affordable price, and that's what NOW provides every day.