Amazon.com Inc. has transformed many industries, and the supplements business is no exception. As of June 2019, the e-commerce giant stocked some 17,840 vitamin and dietary supplement brands according to the Trust Transparency Center. In contrast, its nearest online competitor carried 2,161 brands.
Source: AP Photo
Yet our article this week shows that this rapid growth is not without consequence. Not only do an increasing number of products not contain the nutrients they claim to, some include potentially harmful substances, such as pesticides.
Jim Emme, CEO of supplements-maker NOW Foods, bought and tested a series of rival products and had the results confirmed by third-party labs. Emme said he found about 50 adulterated products on Amazon in the first half of 2019. Other investigations have found similar results.
Amazon has been taking measures to tackle counterfeiting across the vast array of goods it sells. But it may be forced to adopt an even tougher stance on supplements if pending legislation is approved that would require such products to be registered with the Food and Drug Administration.
Supplements may be a tiny part of Amazon's empire, but the wider implications of carrying misleading and sub-standard goods make it an issue that merits the company's full attention.
Chart of the week: Cannabis stocks lose their high
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Food, Beverage & Tobacco
An increasing number of dietary supplements that contain unlisted ingredients — or no active ingredient at all — proliferate on the e-commerce platform.
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S&P 500 Consumer Staples and Discretionary indices
Consumer Edge is a weekly collection of critical developments across the automotive; retail; and food, beverage, and tobacco industries. Drawing on exclusive analysis and value-added content from the Consumer News team at S&P Global Market Intelligence, it is published every Thursday.