Nutrition champion applauds the value of doing business in Canada

March 2, 2022

Entrepreneur, author, and natural health expert, Lorna Vanderhaeghe, explains why she’s so passionate about Canada’s nutrition and wellness industry and her new position on the Board of Natural Products Canada

Lorna Vanderhaeghe, M.S. is a visionary entrepreneur, investor, and cheerleader in the industry that she describes as ‘using food and nutrients as medicine.’ With over 35 years in the industry, she has two companies under her belt including Lorna Vanderhaeghe Health Solutions, Inc, which she sold to Jamieson Wellness for eight figures in 2014. An enthusiastic and deeply evidence-based educator, author of 13 books and countless articles, sought out speaker and media contributor, Lorna is one of Canada’s premiere leaders in the natural health product sector.

Lorna Vanderhaeghe, M.S. is the newest member of the NPC Board of Directors

So it goes without saying that Natural Products Canada was thrilled to welcome her to the Board of Directors in late 2021.

We sat down with Lorna to learn what attracted her to the NPC Board, why she’s so optimistic about Canada’s nutrition and wellness industry, and what advice she has for those entering the field.

NPC: You have a pretty remarkable background. From finance and formulation to marketing in B2B and B2C, and then growing and selling your company. Where did all this start for you?

LV: I’ve been fortunate to take part in many exciting opportunities in my career but I think one of the valuable roles was my time as Editor of the Health & Nutrition magazine while working for the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine and the Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation. That’s where I got to know and work with some of the founders of the industry like the late Abram Hoffer, Linus Pauling and others who taught me so much about the profound effects of nutrition on our health. The years spent there laid the foundation for my entire career.

NPC: You found out about NPC from your long-time business associate, Dean Mosca, who is an active member of our Board. What interested you about joining?

LV: When Dean told me all the great work that NPC was doing to help entrepreneurs in this space right across the country, I really wanted to get involved and ensure that more people knew about it. But I had also made a decision to join Boards where the other members were also committed to the industry that I’m so passionate about, and who also bring different perspectives and experience. I was impressed at the makeup of the Board, people like Robert Orr who had such an impact on the early days of the fish oil industry. I was grateful to be asked to join NPC.

NPC: With all that you’ve seen and done in your career, what has you excited about the nutrition and wellness industry now?

LV: What excites me the most is the extent of the research and development underway in the natural products industry. When I started out almost 40 years ago, we struggled getting funding for research and acceptance from the medical community. Those barriers are gone due to the industry stepping up funding research and educating consumers who are now demanding more from their health care providers.  COVID has increased consumer interest in their health and immunity providing an opportunity for the industry to help people learn and find the information they need online. People have so many questions, and there’s so much that is not understood about the natural products industry.

NPC: Like what?

LV: Well for starters, the regulatory system behind Canada’s natural health industry – especially the regulation of nutritional supplements. The industry worked with Health Canada to create a licensing system to provide the highest quality products backed by science. That makes the rest of the world view us differently. Many people don’t know the claims on the front of the supplement label are approved by Health Canada because the evidence supports those claims. The regulations can be limiting to some products, but it’s protecting Canadian consumers and ensuring that only the best products are available. We’re respected for this around the world. It’s something Canadians should be proud of.

NPC: On the note of doing business in Canada, how well do you think we compete?

LV: People forget that Canada has a long and respected history in nutrition. Like the early stages of the fish oil market, where we went from nothing to a research-backed, regulated, high-quality industry. Or seed oil companies like Bioriginal from Saskatchewan who are now global leaders. We’ve always had such great research and development behind our products, and now we have organizations like NPC that can provide advice and other supports. It’s very encouraging.

NPC: What advice do you have for those entering the market?

LV: Like me when I started my nutritional supplement business, many nutrition-based start-ups often have a lot of passion for their products because of a personal connection. Often they or a family member have had a medical issue. That passion is important as it keeps you going, but having some business experience or mentor help is key.

Understanding the financial runway required to get through at least the first three years. You just have to understand where your money is coming from and how long it has to last. I remember when I started, it’s tough. I mortgaged my house. You need to be prepared for it to take at least three years.

And it’s important to develop strong partnerships. And with that, you need good contracts. And finally don’t be afraid to be a shameless promoter of your product.

NPC: Don’t be afraid to be a shameless self-promoter. And maybe talk to NPC?

LV: (laughs) Yes, of course! Absolutely talk to NPC to see what guidance, programs or introductions are available.

If you have questions about NPC’s programs and services, please contact your local Regional Director.