Natures Crops International Inc.
314 Indera Mills Ct.
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Phone: (336) 759-7335
A manufacturer of specialty oils for dietary supplements, nutraceuticals, food and personal care products, Natures Crops International produces oils from the highest quality crops, produced by growers who follow strict management protocols for sustainability and identity preservation. Natures Crops ensures the crops produced are grown, processed, packaged and delivered in a safe, regenerative, traceable and cost-competitive manner. The company has operations in Prince Edward Island, Canada and the United Kingdom, with headquarters in North Carolina.
Andrew Hebard founded Technology Crops LLC, Natures Crops International’s holding company, in 2004 and has served as its president and CEO ever since. Based in Winston-Salem, NC, Hebard has led the company’s growth from start-up to an international leader in growing, processing, and supply of regeneratively grown specialty crops and specialty crop ingredients. The business operates internationally, working with seed companies, growers, technology providers, processors, distributors and consumer brands to deliver plant-based solutions for improved health, wellness and environmental outcomes.
NIE: Please explain Crop Assured 365.
Hebard: When you see Crop Assured 365 on an ingredient from Natures Crops, you are getting three assurances: 1. Continuity of Supply (i.e. you won’t get supply chain disruption), 2. Traceability (all our ingredients are traceable back to their fields of origin) and, of course, 3. Quality (i.e. exceeding specification and safety requirements). It’s our time-tested, proprietary process across our portfolio of specialty oils including Abyssinian, Meadowfoam and Ahiflower oils. The Crop Assured 365 seal assures both licensed brand partners and end consumers that every lot of every oil is not only fully traceable to the farms on which the original oilseed crop was grown, but that strict controls are also in place to regulate and guarantee the proprietary genetics and selected varieties, botanical identity, and purity. Regenerative farming protocols underlying each farmer’s crop are followed with oversight by Natures Crops’ agronomists and executive management. Our exacting “soil to oil” commitment to thoughtful stewardship throughout the supply chain results in a tightly controlled, end-to-end bulk oil supply with unmatched reliability, integrity and quality. It allows us to give back and replenish the earth, while enabling brands to differentiate, and meet consumer demands for these attributes.
NIE: Ahiflower was recently selected by leading health and wellness brands as a superior carrier oil in a variety of nutraceutical, food & beverage and personal care applications. What does that mean for the company?
Hebard: Primarily this means that we can help our brand partners deliver a superior and higher value product to their customers. Using a highly functional ingredient such as Ahilfower oil as a delivery system for other health and wellness ingredients is a perfect value-based strategy. Equally important to us is that it increases overall awareness and consumption of omegas. As you know, they are an essential component for a healthy life, and there’s simply insufficient dietary intake of them. We strive to do our part in helping to raise overall omega consumption.
Further, this recognition and validation is helping achieve our strategy of broadening Ahiflower’s market uptake beyond dietary supplement multi-omegas to a functional ingredient appearing across a wide range of applications, in both emerging and established food, beverage, supplement, animal nutrition and personal care brands. Ahiflower oil’s health benefits are helping it gain significant traction, particularly in vegan products, and other applications where conventional omega-3 sources may present formulation or cost challenges.
Peer-reviewed, published study results have also shown that Ahiflower oil can increase live probiotic survival rate by up to two times when used as a functional carrier oil. Another reason Ahiflower oil is rising in use globally is because one can achieve significant daily omega-3 intake levels with minimal dosages. As a functional carrier oil, it adds tremendous value.
NIE: Sustainability seems to be an important aspect of Natures Crops International. What steps does the company take to ensure sustainability through the supply chain?
Hebard: For our crop production, we identify and actively measure key metrics, such as fertilizer and crop production inputs and their impacts on soil, environmental biodiversity indicators and rural farmland economics. We work closely with farmers to reduce inputs and increase outputs, whilst also improving soil and water health. We have enumerated our approach to regenerative farming on the Ahiflower website.
Other key supply chain activities, such as logistics and packaging, are done with a keen eye on minimal use of materials or resources. Our in-house oilseed processing is done using solvent-free cold pressing and light-touch physical refining. Collectively, because we manage the entire “soil to oil” supply chain, we can observe, measure and continually look to improve on key sustainability measures.
Natures Crops is wholly committed to long-term sustainability throughout our supply chains—meaning that as demand for our 100 percent plant-based specialty oils rises, we continue to reinvest our efforts to improve soil fertility, pollinator and rural biodiversity in our growing regions, reduce our carbon footprint throughout the supply chain, and offset the impacts of less sustainable omega-3 sources.