A word with

Sybille Buchwald-Werner

Member of AgroFOOD Industry Hi Tech's Scientific Advisory Board

Co-founder & Managing Director

Can you tell us about the process you follow to identify and introduce new health ingredients in the market? How do you measure the impact and effectiveness of your health ingredients on consumer health and well-being?

Understanding customer needs across markets is a key prerequisite to identify health targets which are on future high demand. Furthermore, scientific techniques and endpoint need to be selected carefully, to make sure that scientific data can be translated into an appealing and understandable consumer wording and health claims. If the target is set, the development can start.

The development of innovative health ingredients is a complex, long-term process, which takes in general 3-4 years. It can be divided into 3 steps. First, phytochemical analyses, to know what it is, then mode of action studies, to know how it works, last human studies, to know that it works for you. Let’s look into the details. In the first step, the suitable raw material is selected, and the preliminary quality and specifications are defined. Phytochemical investigations are carried out to identify valuable, naturally occurring compounds. In addition, screening for potential contaminants and harmful compounds are done to confirm the safety. In the second development step, scientific studies to relate the natural composition to mode of actions leading to beneficial effects are carried out. Normally, this is the step leading to innovation and patent applications. In the final step, so-called gold standard human studies are carried out to investigate and confirm beneficial effects in humans and to set the recommended effective dosage. The combination of these steps are necessary to create a comprehensive knowledge and understanding on the effectiveness of the health ingredient and depending of the mode of action and potency on the impact on quality of life.

Could you elaborate on the challenges you faced while establishing your sales and distribution network in 18 countries, and how did you overcome them?

First of all, my mission is to support peoples’ health naturally with our science-based, effective ingredients, supported by communication to create awareness and know-how among customers and consumers. My marketing & sales strategy has four pillars. Strategic cooperation with distribution partner in the target markets, being supported by regional Vital Solutions sales and product managers, social media campaigns, and technical support. The aim of these diverse, powerful teams is to jointly identify and create customers‘ solutions with Vital Solutions ingredients.

Now, you may say, but Vital Solutions is a small company, how can you implement the strategy globally at the same time? It all depends on people and how people are motivated and work together. My experience is that it is important to establish an environment that allows also small teams to create relationships, accountability, and autonomy. The aim is to foster collaborations and integrate externals well, based on trust and no fear of failure.

My leadership attributes are knowledge, creativity, endurance, integrity, and enthusiasm. Capacity building and motivation are my key goals for my team, our cooperation partners as well as for customers and consumers. I do my best to enable them to follow their life goals and to choose the best nutritional support.

“Enabling healthy and nutritious foods for people and planet”

How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the food ingredients industry? Can you share any upcoming projects or initiatives that Vital Solutions is working on currently?

There are different tools, how to stay-up-to date with the latest industry trends. For sure, visiting exhibitions and make sure that all team members have some spare time to walk the show and look for news is a must. Screen program and exhibitor lists carefully and identify interesting topics prior to the show and ask team members less involved into the topic to go and collect information. I personally like to follow global key accounts, trendsetter, Megatrend PR agencies on social media to learn about their opinions and forecasts. Megatrends develop slowly and are enormously powerful. They affect all levels of society and thus influence companies, institutions, and individuals. Never set up a new product development pipeline, without considering the next megatrend. Finally, diversity is very important. We need different views, experience and cultures in our team to understand the development of society and future trends.

What is your vision for the future of Vital Solutions, and how do you plan to contribute towards it?

Vital Solutions was founded in 2009. Since then it has successfully introduced 5 novel health ingredients, leading to sustainable sales growth in 18 countries via a well-established sales and distribution network. Vital Solutions offers solutions for brain health, digestive health & metabolism, well aging, and sports nutrition. Now, it was time to look for a new set up to accelerate commercial development while maintaining the philosophy of the company.

It is my pleasure to inform you that Vital Solutions has recently been acquired by Fytexia, an ABF Ingredients (ABFI) company, offering science-based natural ingredients to improve health and well-being of consumers, worldwide. Vital Solutions strengthens the leadership of Fytexia in science-based natural ingredients while addressing new health categories.

Joining Fytexia within ABFI was a natural move to Vital Solutions. I believe that the cultures of the two companies are very close. My personal credo “We need science to obtain facts and we need passion to turn facts into products for a better future.” is a common fundament in the culture of the companies and will create opportunities for further growth and the development of innovations for a healthy future.