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The Equalizer

Bruce Kneller
In the last two decades, Bruce Kneller has written columns for half a dozen muscle magazines in the United States and Canada. He has worked as chief formulator or executive vice president of manufacturing for several large, multinational sports-nutrition companies and as consulting formulator for over a dozen more. He has lectured at the International Society of Sports Nutrition’s Annual Conventions (and will again in 2013 in Colorado Springs) and at Supply Side West. Currently, Bruce is heavily involved with R&D and formulation for his own companies: Hong Kong Life Sciences Company LTD, based in Wanchai Bay, Hong Kong and Giant Sports Products LLC, based in Brick, New Jersey. He has over 60 awarded patent claims with the USPTO, the CPO, and the WIPO related to sports nutrition. He divides most of his time between Monmouth County, New Jersey and Changsha, Hunan Province, where he maintains residences.
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Where is the future of the Natural supplement industry heading?

Q. With growing scrutiny and regulation regarding dietary ingredients or natural health products, where do you see the future of the industry heading?

A. Without any doubt, on a global basis, the level of scrutiny and regulation regarding dietary ingredients/supplements or natural health products has increased exponentially as has enforcement of said regulation. While admittedly, additional regulation—or rather, enforcement of current regulations—was and is needed, a lot of the proposed rules are going to be detrimental to the end consumer (and the industry at large) as the cost of goods and services will increase substantially. Some people will argue that they don’t mind paying more for quality. This point is difficult to refute … until you see these same people purchasing their dietary supplements and natural health products at a heavy discount in big box chain stores or in other “non-traditional” venues such as grocery, home hardware and sporting goods stores where margins are relatively very low to begin with. You have to then wonder how these stores make any money selling that stuff for such a low price. Consumers seem to want it all—and why not?—high quality, low prices, and fast, convenient service. My grandfather used to tell me that you’ll likely get any two out of those three aforementioned characteristics and no more. So you can have it fast and cheap (but of dubious quality), fast and high quality (but expensive), or low cost and high quality (but service will suffer). Because of the high cost of increased regulatory burden, I see this industry becoming less diverse, with fewer companies able to compete—which is never good for the consumer in the long run—and innovation by the little guy being stifled quite a bit. You’ll see very few “New Dietary Ingredients” in the United States (arguably one of the more liberal countries around the world when it comes to this class of product) because of the cost burden associated with introducing them and lack of intellectual property protection afforded them. What I think you’ll see are plenty of new spins on old tricks: people trying to find ways to incrementally increase oral bioavailability of existing ingredients or marginally extending the half life of or solubility of existing ingredients in ways that do not require a large capital outlay in R & D costs. I have mixed feelings about all this, and I’m still sorting it out in my head too.