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This article by Barbara Fox was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on
October 20, 1999. All rights reserved.
Competition for NutRx
The bulk of the product in the neutriceuticals industry is being sold
at healthfood stores such as GNC (39 percent), big box stores such as
WalMart (18.7 percent, and food stores (10 percent). But NutRx’ chief
competitors are the virtual firms (Mothernature.com, Vitamins.com, and
Vitaminshop.com) that are spending millions to grab
market share, and specialty pioneers, such as the Fort
Lauderdale-based Life Extension Foundation (LEF).
The LEF was controversial in its early years, and at one point the
Food and Drug Administration confiscated its computers because it
sold a controversial product, but now that same product is sold
everywhere. Unlike NutRx, LEF concentrates on educating the consumer
rather than the healthcare practitioner (http://www.lef.org). It
began in 1981 to study everything from cryonics to caloric restriction
and now sells 500 nutritional supplements
to members of its buyers club.
The large pharmaceutical
companies are just beginning to realize the potential for
this market. "The drug companies have tried to make everything
regulated," says DiBartolomeo, "but they realize if they are not going
to be able to force the government to regulate natural compounds, they
need to start their own divisions."
Johnson & Johnson, for instance, currently markets nutritional
ingredients, called "functional foods," rather than neutriceutical
compounds that would directly compete with NutRx. These foods include
Lactaid, a milk substitute; Benecol, a food ingredient that blocks
absorption of cholesterol; and Splenda, a sugar substitute made from
sugar that is not yet widely available. "We have a couple of very
significant businesses in the nutritional/nutriceutical area. We look
to these businesses as a platform for growth, but as yet we have no
separate division," says Willard D. Nielsen, of Johnson & Johnson.
Bristol-Myers Squibb has its Mead Johnson
Nutritionals division in Evansville, Indiana, with global sales of $2
billion and more than 60
brand name products. Like J&J it has until now concentrated on foods,
including Enfamil infant formulas, Boost (a nutritional energy
beverage with antioxidants), and
Choice-dm (a nutrition bar and beverage for those with diabetes).
Spokesperson Peter J. Paradossi says his firm’s first venture into the
supplement market, Viactiv Soft Calcium Chews, is "revolutionary." It
has Vitamins D and K for better absorption, and with a texture like
that of a soft taffy candy, it is chewable.
— Barbara Fox
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