NOW Foods Factory Tour

Local to our SPINS headquarters, the Product Library team recently tapped into our natural and organic senses and embarked on Chicago tours not found in your typical guidebooks – well, except for that exceptional craft brewery! This two-part serial features debut contributions from a few of the newest Natural Products Research Associates detailing our team’s glimpse into the industry in action, witnessing the gears turning further up the supply chain. Join us on our journey through the new Method Factory and Lagunitas brewery in Part II, but first, Loren Masalski takes you behind the scenes of NOW Foods.

Loren Masalski– NOW Foods factory tour; Bloomingdale, IL

Getting my first job in the natural products industry, I continued to learn and inform others on evolving trends in natural foods, body care and supplements. NOW Foods was a staple in my department, and their products flew off the shelves. While I knew the basics about the company, and the fact that it was a great introductory option for the novice natural consumer, I never realized how truly innovative they were in the industry – until now.

NOW Foods is a family owned company founded in 1968 with the belief that “good health was not a luxury available only to the wealthy.” NOW has undertaken numerous community and environmental outreach programs, including ‘Make a Difference Day’ where they help beautify the forest preserves near their facility, and in-house reuse programs such as water recycling to preserve supply for the surrounding community’s water needs.

Touring the facility and speaking with the people that worked there definitely helped our team broaden its understanding of the supplements industry. “What stood out to me the most was the impressive number of internal quality control measures we were educated on, and actually being able to see the variety of testing labs onsite,” states Kim Kawa. Some fun facts about the NOW facility:

  • Over 16,000 tests are performed each month at this facility. They can vary from purity/potency to allergen to pesticide tests for over 300 different types, while actively developing standards to increase that range.
  • Speed and efficiency is one of their top priorities – they process about 750 orders a day with their paperless system and each order is processed within 24 hours of receiving it.
  • In 1975, NOW Foods’ retail locations adopted the name “Fruitful Yield,” and 12 stores are still in operation today.
  • Over 1 billion capsules are produced every year!

There is a perception that the dietary supplement industry lacks regulations and standards because it does not follow the same protocols as the pharmaceutical industry. However, the supplement industry is regulated under a different set of guidelines by the FDA. In 1994, the Dietary and Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was created. DSHEA stipulates that supplement manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the safety of a product and the product’s label must be truthful. To formalize this guideline, the Natural Products Association (NPA) alongside other organizations, established a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification program – pre-emptive robust transparency standards to remain in good standing with the FDA.

  • In 1999, the NPA established GMP standards, the first organization to offer a third-party GMP certification.
  • In 2000, NOW became one of the first companies to seek the GMP compliant certification. Every year they go through the re-certification process and maintain their ‘A’ rating.
  • In 2007, the FDA finalized their current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) standard. While companies have to follow the cGMPs, the FDA does not certify them as being compliant.
  • In response to the set FDA criteria, the industry revised its private GMP certification to not only meet the FDA standards, but exceed them.

This is a great outcome of consumer advocacy, industry response and government regulations working in tandem to raise the bar. In addition to being GMP certified, NOW Foods has obtained multiple third party certifications including Non-GMO Project Verified, Gluten Free, USDA Organic, and many more.

Consumers don’t realize that there are many great companies with outstanding integrity demonstrated through robust internal regulations in this industry—NOW Foods being one of the trailblazers. “NOW Foods is one of the most dedicated companies in the market. It’s why they’ve succeeded for so long – customers know that they can expect top quality products,” says Samantha Rico. Their openness and innovation is essential to building confidence in an industry that is riddled with uncertainty and confusion NOW takes pride in their standards and wants to continue protecting and advancing an industry by exhibiting topnotch self-regulatory processes. Ipaddress NOW Foods is an innovative, trustworthy company that supports industry standards. SPINS and I are excited to see what they do next.