Consumer demands for more information and greater transparency are being met by a growing number of certifications in the dietary supplement and natural products industry. One such standard - the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) Program – has expanded its services to meet growing demand.
The IFOS program, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, has reports available for 86 companies listed on its new website (http://www.nutrasource.ca/ifos/ ) covering hundreds of individual of skus. Jennifer Andrews, manager of corporate branding for Nutrasource Diagnostics Inc. (NDI), the company that developed and operates the IFOS program, explained that the program only works if consumers understand program, and NDI has been doing a lot to build consumer awareness using social media, blogging, and direct communications with brands.
Earlier this year the IFOS Program expanded its service offerings to include raw material suppliers, with Croda becoming the first to achieve the 5-Star IFOS Supplier Certification for its full range of Incromega brand fish oil concentrates. Expanding to suppliers is important, said Andrews, since it aids the fish oil industry in showcasing premium product in a more transparent way than ever before.
The program also just launched a new website to better showcase IFOS certified brands and to provide end consumers with the tools they need to make informed choices regarding fish oil supplements.
“We’ve seen a sizeable shift in the way consumers are accessing information, particularly IFOS Consumer Reports. As a result, our online presence has changed in order to better provide consumers with the information they need to access pure, stable, quality fish oil products,” said William Rowe, President and CEO of NDI and founder of the IFOS Program.
“We now cater to supplement users who are looking for immediate information while comparing fish oil products. We’re excited to be able to showcase IFOS certified brands on a platform that puts user experience first.”
‘Increasing consumer transparency’
Adam Ismail, executive director of the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) told us that the IFOS program is actually based on the GOED Voluntary Monograph.
“IFOS is increasing consumer transparency because for the brands that participate the results are available for consumers to find in one place. That is certainly a beneficial aspect,” he said. “When consumers ask us how to tell if they have a quality product, we urge them first to contact the manufacturer to get more data, but also point them to resources like IFOS, Consumer Reports, ConsumerLab and other third-party programs that give consumers an assessment of their products and transparency around the quality.
“I really believe the best way we can earn consumer trust is to give consumers more information, rather than less. The entire certification industry has sprung up as a result of consumers wanting this information and not being able to find it easily.”