In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in natural supplement ingredients, which led even major ingredients suppliers to introduce natural and GM-free vitamins - such as Cognis and ADM with their vitamin E.
Natural suppliers have also reported demand for their products from mainstream supplement companies - such as Synergy Production Laboratories, which has developed an economic CO2 method of extracting nutrients from grasses as a result of external demand.
Mannatech's move is significant not only because it is based on consumers' desire for naturally-sourced, but also because it depends on their understanding of environmental issues and the way the human body uses resources at its disposal.
It also makes much of the notion of a nutrition gap in foods today, which it says is the result of modern farming techniques.
The product, called Phytomatrix, uses a patented hydroponic cultivation technology licensed from Integrated BioPharma (INB), which makes it possible for plants to absorb far greater quantities of minerals.
In its launch material, Mannatech references a study published in the Journal of Food Chemistry (vol 71, 2000), which favorably compared absorption of minerals derived from plants to absorption of synthetic minerals from branded multivitamin products.
Mannatech claims to be the only network marketer with the rights to use a blend of more than six INB-harvested minerals; it will use 10. In combination with this, PhytoMatrix contains plant-sourced vitamins, which the company says allows them to maintain their natural fibers, sugars and organic acids.
Mannatech, which was founded in 1993 and reported consolidated net sales of $389m, places much store by its 24 'glyconutritional' products for adults and children, for health and nutrition, sports performance, weight management and skin care.
"While some companies focus on creating an extremely large product line, Mannatech tailors its research and development to create and maintain a few core optimal products," said founder, CEO and chairman Sam Caster.