Natural Products Alliance debuts, helps N.C. businesses grow

Press release
from the Natural Products Alliance of N.C.

(Asheville, NC) A group of Western North Carolina nonprofit natural products organizations has banded together as the Natural Products Alliance of North Carolina to help natural products companies grow, formulate, test, make, and brand their botanically-based products in one vertical pipeline, right here in Western North Carolina. The organizations involved include Bent Creek Institute, Bent Creek Germplasm Repository, BioNetwork, Blue Ridge Food Ventures, NC State University, Small Business Development and Technology Center, the US Botanical Safety Laboratory and the NC Natural Products Association’s Blue Ridge Naturally brand. The project is supported by the GoldenLEAF Foundation.

The Blue Ridge Naturally branding seal is a new addition for 2013. It is designed to bring international and national attention to Western North Carolina’s emerging natural products industry. The seal emphasizes Western North Carolina’s superior quality in locally grown ingredients and finished natural products. Carrying the seal on products tells customers they can trust that they are tested, traceable and sourced in Western North Carolina, a region of distinction in the natural products industry. Companies that gain the BRN seal test their product(s) annually in a BRN-approved natural products laboratory, support sustainable agricultural and wildharvesting practices, and aim to increase their use of traceable WNC-sourced ingredients, important reassurance for the savvy consumer. For more information about applying for the Seal or about products that already carry it, visit http// or contact Sarah Oram, Brand Administrator at or 708-BRG-SEAL.

Historically, North Carolina anchored Southern Appalachia’s status as a natural medicines and pharmaceutical supply region for a wide range of plant-based ingredients like goldenseal, black cohosh, wild cherry, slippery elm, white willow, and many analogs to traditional Chinese herbs like astragalus and ginseng. Raw material ingredient suppliers like Wilcox Pharmaceuticals prospered for many decades. In the 21st century, parallel with the decline of tobacco, North Carolina-based natural products company revenues now exceed an estimated $500 million—before factoring in any impacts from Herbalife’s new manufacturing plant in Winston-Salem. Many are posting year-on-year double-digit growth. Further, North Carolina’s university and community college campuses have developed specific domain expertise in botanical research and testing that draw from the state’s rich, biodiverse variety of micro-climates and soil types and that translate to premium-quality finished products from Western North Carolina.

With so many consumer and practitioner trends supporting locally-sourced, traceable, and sustainably manufactured wellness products, the Natural Products Alliance can help companies improve consumer reliability, transparency, and trust with strong scientific backing.

The Natural Products Alliance of North Carolina can help supply chain stakeholders and ingredient developers clear vexing supply chain hurdles. “How many import impoundments, dockworker strikes, and adulterated ingredient challenges does it take for botanical products companies to consider tapping into North Carolina’s agricultural, academic, and natural products infrastructure?” said Greg Cumberford, president of Bent Creek Institute and one of the Alliance’s co-founders. “We can help client companies leverage Western North Carolina’s unique assets to improve the quality of their natural products and draw on the cultural and biological assets of our region to advance sustainable, lab-tested wellness products into global markets.”

The Alliance’s member organizations can facilitate everything from grower contracts and sourcing of wildcrafted botanicals, to testing, authentication, formulation, and pilot-scale manufacturing, workforce GMP training, capital access and finally, branding of finished products. For more information, please contact Sarah Oram, BRN Brand Administrator, at or 708-BRG-SEAL.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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