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Innovators in the News

8/24/12 - Eldertide Farm / Maine Medicinals Takes Off in Whole Foods

(From the Larta Institute VOX) -  Eldertide Farm/Maine Medicinals entered Larta’s USDA-Commercialization Assistance Program (USDA-CATP) in February 2010, just 5 months after the initial release of their first nutraceutical product, anthoimmune™. The organic, 100% US grown elderberry syrup delivers therapeutic antioxidants to enhance overall immune system functions. One proprietary variety of elderberry in anthoimmune™ has twice the antioxidant capacity as what is currently commercially available.

The product made its debut at the 2009 Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Common Ground Fair. Within months, the product became a top seller in local natural foods stores, attracted the attention of a local distributor, and made its way into its first Whole Foods Market, in Portland, Maine.

With such rapid success, it was important for the company to figure out their strategy to scale up and move their business forward, both in the short and long term. Eldertide Farm/Maine Medicinals CEO Edie Johnston stated:

Larta’s Commercialization Assistance has been immensely valuable to us. Start-up companies like ours trying to transition from product prototypes to commercial markets and scale up for manufacturing often have difficulty making strong industry connections, acquiring the appropriate level of expertise and securing early stage financing. Dr. Robert Calcaterra, our Larta advisor, proved to be a perfect match for us. His guidance and insight have helped insure that we have sufficient resources, technical knowledge, and other tools needed to move our business forward. As a young business, when we think about our key success factors, the USDA-CATP and our Larta advisor, Dr. Calcaterra, are at the top of our list.

With the proper planning, their rapid success was not short lived. Whole Foods took the product region-wide in September 2010 making anthoimmune™ available in 27 Whole Foods Markets in the North Atlantic Region and will be launching their products in Whole Foods Northeast Region later this month. Unlike other elderberry-based products, anthoimmune™ has experienced stronger sales than expected in months typically slow for such products. With all its recent success, Eldertide/Maine Medicinal has been experiencing 250% growth annually!

So what’s next for a company with such early success? More growth – cautious growth, of course. The company is being careful to ensure that they can scale up local capacity with the goal of having their products in national distribution in 2012-2013.

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