Company with ‘naturals’ as part of name agrees to qualify its marketing

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - serggn
©Getty Images - serggn

Related tags: natural additive, natural claims

Supplement manufacturer Zarbee’s Naturals has been advised to qualify some of its claims in a National Advertising Division case that bears on the question of what is meant by the term ‘natural.’

Zarbee’s manufactures supplements primarily aimed at immune support that include ingredients such as honey and elderberry. In addition the company offers sleep support products based on melatonin as well as a multivitamin line.

Zarbee’s claims were challenged by competitor Procter & Gamble.  In the NAD ruling made public today, Zarbee’s was recommended to cease certain claims centering on the ‘naturalness’ of its ingredients.

Does the name ‘Naturals’ mean everything in the bottle is natural?

NAD said that the question of whether the vitamins and melatonin used in the products are chemically equivalent to their natural counterparts was not at issue.  What P&G asserted was that a product sold under the ‘Zarbees Naturals’ brand name would be assumed by consumers to contain all natural ingredients.

NAD recommends that Zarbee’s alters its marketing to (1) alert consumers when some or all of the essential or key ingredients used in its products are not naturally derived, with sufficient specificity to allow consumers to understand which ingredients in individual products are not naturally derived, and (2) otherwise disclose the meaning of the word ‘natural’ with respect to its products.

The use of synthetically produced vitamins is widespread in the supplement industry.  The vast majority of vitamin C, for example, is synthesized in China by a handful of suppliers. 

No justification for ingredient choices

The statement issued by NAD said that Zarbee’s had made a reasonable case why it used synthetic melatonin in its products.  In other cases, however the panel decreed that Zarbee’s existing marketing had implied that natural ingredients were used in every case unless there was no alternative to using a synthetic ingredient. 

“The advertiser did not provide NAD with any evidence that it only used synthetic ingredients in its products when it was not possible to use natural ingredients,”​ NAD said.

In a statement, Zarbee’s Naturals said it “disagrees but will comply with NAD’s ruling.” The company went on to say, “We do not believe our use of ‘Naturals’ is confusing to consumers. Rather, it helps to distinguish our products from those that contain man-made chemical sleep aids, cough suppressants, etc. Nevertheless, we support the self-regulatory process and will take NAD’s recommendations into account in our future advertising.”

Attorney Ivan Wasserman, of the firm Amin Talati Wasserman, said Zarbee’s Naturals is a major firm and the ruling could have implications for natural claims throughout the industry.

“This is an extremely important case in the continuing evolution of ‘natural’ jurisprudence, and indeed other vague terms such as ‘plant derived.’ When we are before the NAD or the courts, it is so important to be able to show that when a term is used we made efforts to ensure that consumers understand what it means in relation to the product, such as when the term may not apply to the key ingredient.  While that effort may occupy valuable real estate on the label, in the ad, in the social media post or wherever, it is very important.  As the great American author  Stanley Elkin famously said: ‘I don't believe less is more. I believe that more is more. I believe that less is less, fat fat, thin thin and enough is enough,’”​ Wasserman said.

Zarbee’s Naturals did respond in time for publication for a request for additional comment on the NAD ruling.

Related news

Related products

show more

Deliver wholesome products with sustainable ingredients.

Deliver wholesome products with sustainable ingredients.

ADM advances regenerative agriculture | 24-Jun-2022 | Infographic

Learn how the plant-based movement continues to inspire an evolution in consumer eating habits, and how ADM’s NutriStem™ ingredients with their vertically...

Sustainable solutions from farm to finished product.

Sustainable solutions from farm to finished product.

ADM advances regenerative agriculture | 24-Jun-2022 | Insight Guide

Consumers view sustainability more holistically than ever and see it as a moral imperative for companies to take action to protect environmental and social...

Your roadmap to carbon neutral flour has arrived.

Your roadmap to carbon neutral flour has arrived.

ADM advances regenerative agriculture | 24-Jun-2022 | Product Presentation

ADM's net carbon neutral milling network and regenerative agriculture projects help lower your supply chain emissions on flour sourcing. Download...

Vanilla, the sustainable taste of home.

Vanilla, the sustainable taste of home.

ADM advances regenerative agriculture | 24-Jun-2022 | Infographic

Explore how ADM’s responsible global sourcing and formulation know-how is used to develop world-class tasting and sustainable vanilla solutions for deliciousness...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Products

View more

Webinars