Valensa International’s (Eustis, FL) saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) berries and extracts are now allowed to bear a “Fresh from Florida” logo from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the company announced. The designation indicates that the company’s saw palmetto ingredients are produced entirely in Florida. According to Valensa, this designation will help educate consumers about the existing threat of saw palmetto adulteration and reassure them that because Valensa’s saw palmetto is grown locally, consumers can trust that the ingredients are unadulterated.
Saw palmetto is a popular ingredient with a long history of use, particularly in the men’s health category, for issues like prostate health. However, many consumers are unaware that adulteration is a major concern with saw palmetto ingredients, says Valensa, for a couple of reasons. First, there’s the issue of supply and demand. Valensa points to comments made a few years ago by Stefan Gafner, PhD, chief scientific officer for the American Botanical Council (ABC; Austin, TX), who noted that when the saw palmetto harvest volume is below expectations, and when demand for saw palmetto raises the ingredient’s price, adulteration is more likely to occur. “Suppliers that sell high-quality saw palmetto extracts will not be able to compete on price, and may lose lucrative contracts to the providers of low-cost adulterated ‘saw palmetto’ materials,” the company quotes Gafner as saying.
Second, there’s the fact that saw palmetto grows exclusively in the southeastern U.S. According to a representative from Valensa, the saw palmetto palms are more than 300 years old and thrive in the Florida climate. While it is possible to replant a saw palmetto palm, it is generally not feasible to do so for commercial purposes. Thus, the company says that saw palmetto ingredients that originate anywhere other than Florida can be a tip-off that the ingredient is inauthentic.
Currently, says Valensa, there are three main ways that saw palmetto is being adulterated: by incorporating ground, green berry powder (unripened saw palmetto powder); by diluting the saw palmetto oil with other oils; or by using another oil exclusively.
Valensa believes that the “Fresh from Florida” logo, however, is one way that companies in the saw palmetto space can differentiate from the bad actors on the market who are attempting to sell adulterated saw palmetto as the real thing. According to the company, the “Fresh from Florida” designation indicates that Florida saw palmetto berries are a sustainable, renewable crop harvested in Florida; that Valensa employs responsible harvesters of saw palmetto berries providing income and employment on farms and ranches in Florida during the critical summer months; and that Valensa’s saw palmetto berries are grown within 200 miles of Valensa’s production facility.
In order to be able to feature the “Fresh from Florida” logo on a product, a company must join the Florida Agricultural Promotional Campaign (FAPC) and prove that its crops are grown in Florida. “Valensa had to verify its business, harvest practices, etc., to show it is a Florida business with Florida-grown produce,” said Valensa’s representative. “In this case, saw palmetto is commercially produced only in Florida, so it’s a big win for the Department’s campaign.”
In a press release from Valensa, Umasudhan C.P., CEO, Valensa, said that the company will apply the new logo throughout its 2018-2019 marketing campaign for its USPlus saw palmetto extract and corporate brand overall.
“We are proud of this designation and look forward to helping everyone in our business, from the farm to the pill, learn about this treasure grown only in Florida,” he said. “Marking our saw palmetto ‘Fresh from Florida’ gives our customers more confidence they are receiving unadulterated, pure saw palmetto extract.”