Saturday, August 20, 2022

Bringing science and transparency to the supplement industry

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

The supplement brand Ritual was born when Katerina Schneider was pregnant with her first child. She was shocked by the lack of transparency of ingredients and fillers in the women’s prenatal and multivitamins on the market, which led her to make her own vitamins.

As a pregnant woman who held fundraising rallies in the predominantly male world of venture capital, she was told she had a choice: She could grow her business or grow her family, but she couldn’t do both. Kat let this negative response fuel her passion to launch Ritual in 2016.

Fast forward to now, Ritual has expanded to include multivitamins for men, teens and children and plant-based protein powder created by an in-house team of scientists and physicians. This spring, the brand launched their first gut health product, Synbiotic+, a 3-in-1 prebiotic, postbiotic and probiotic designed with 2 of the world’s most clinically studied probiotic strains.

Over the past 6 years, Ritual has not stood still when it comes to their mission to provide radical transparency into what consumers put into their bodies and why. Apart from their Made traceable promise to consumers, proving that the science and sourcing is legit, Ritual achieved B Corp certification in July and also boasts the industry’s toughest third-party certifications, including USP verification on their Essential for women 18+ and Informed Sport certification for their Essential Protein. Ritual is committed to taking traceability to the next level in every aspect of the business.

As part of my research into goal-oriented entrepreneurshipI recently spoke with Ritual’s CEO Katerina Schneider and Chief Impact Officer Lindsay Dahl about Ritual’s science-based and transparency-focused business model, including B Corp certification.

Christopher Marquis: How does Ritual try to reduce environmental impact, from sourcing ingredients to packaging?

Lindsay Dahl: Ritual has created our sustainability program and developed goals based on science that calls us to do better. We align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) and use scientific tools – such as life cycle assessments – to make truly sustainable decisions about ingredients and packaging. We recently set industry-defining sustainability goals: working to make 100% of our labeled ingredients traceable (public sharing of final manufacturing location and supplier names), sustainable packaging by 2025 and working towards net zero emissions. The supplement industry was built on the premise of supporting our health, and yet it has been sleeping behind the wheel when it comes to one of the greatest health issues of our time: climate change. We understand that these goals are ambitious and are committed to putting in the hard work.

Marquis: Ritual’s traceable supply chain sets it apart from many of the supplement brands out there. Can you describe this in more detail?

Katerina Schneider: For us, traceability is more than transparency. It openly shares the science and sourcing behind our products. This means that we publicly share the source, supplier and end location of production for our labeled ingredients with our customer and our competitors. We’ve been asked several times if we’re concerned about others copying us and the answer is, we hope so. By publicly sharing the names of our suppliers on our websites, we hope to increase the number of players making high-quality products so that everyone can have confidence in the products they use every day.

Traceability also means raising the standard for what it means to have a “science-based” product. Our team of scientists use what we believe to be the best available science and clinical research to select the ideal forms and dosages of ingredients used in our formulas. We take into account different lifestyles, diets and DNA factors so that we can create accessible products. We also look for clinically studied ingredients for our formulas and use transparent science to make sure they work. We’ve even completed a university-led, peer-reviewed and published clinical study on our flagship multivitamin, Essential for Women 18+.

We also don’t want our customers to take our word for it, we show them the proof. We believe that traceable science should be backed by credible third-party validation. That’s why we’ve invested in certifications like USP (a leading third-party certification for product transparency held by less than 1% of supplement companies), Non-GMO Project- Verified, Informed Sports, and Informed Protein.

Marquis: There is a lot of confusion and false claims in the supplement industry. Describe your science-based approach and clinical studies.

dahl: As a brand built by scientists and skeptics, we work hard to transparently share the science behind our products and not overstate the health benefits. Many products in our category use terms like “clinically researched,” and in many cases, the formula itself has not undergone a clinical trial, but one of its ingredients. In addition, the ingredient may not actually be present in the supplement at the dose studied. We use clinically studied ingredients and clearly communicate which ingredients have been researched to consumers, such as with our newly launched gut health product, Synbiotic+.

While clinical trials of definitive formulas are neither required nor the industry standard, we went the extra mile and completed a clinical trial with our most popular multivitamin, Essential for Women 18+. Our clinical trial was modeled on the gold standards of science, using a leading university, and published in a peer-reviewed journal. We were delighted when the results showed that the key nutrients in our formula had the designed impact on the body. We also chose to conduct our clinical trial on women, knowing that this was our target audience and that women are underexposed.

As a brand, we work hard to demonstrate integrity in the way we market our products, by clarifying which formulas have undergone full clinical studies (our Essential for Women 18+) and which are based on individual ingredients (such as our gut health product).

Marquis: What does Rituals Certified B Corp status mean as a player in the vitamin and supplement industry?

dahl: We are excited to be one of the few brands in the supplement industry to officially become a Certified B Corp and hope more will follow in our footsteps. This certification is such an important part of holding ourselves accountable in the long run, thinking not only about the financial health of our company, but also the health of people and our planet. Embracing the “triple bottom line” is hard to do in practice, and Certified B Corporations tell consumers that we put this philosophy into practice every day.

Marquis: Certified B companies must meet strict criteria around people, the planet and profit. How does Ritual support its employees, supply chain employees and customers?

Schneider: When it comes to protecting people, we take a comprehensive approach to our employees and employees in our supply chain. We will be introducing a comprehensive and people-oriented code of conduct in the coming months and we are actively conducting human rights assessments for high-risk ingredients and regions.

Our employees are at the heart of everything we do and we support them in a number of ways, including unlimited paid time off (including a minimum of 10 days), work from home and welfare benefits, comprehensive medical insurance, mental health, among other benefits.

I also wanted to create a family-friendly work culture and we’ve developed policies that contribute to that. This prompted me to start Ritual when an investor told me I couldn’t have a family and a career at the same time. For example, we offer 20 weeks fully paid including parental leave, monthly childcare benefits, flexible schedules. In addition, we use the power of our company to advocate for national paid family leave by involving Congress directly on the issue.

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