New Hope 360 Blog

Should Dr. Oz stop recommending hemp?

The very mention of a food or supplement on the Dr. Oz show can send demand for a natural product through the roof. This may be good news for some manufacturers, but often it's hard for companies to keep up. 

Dr. Oz dispenses wellness advice to millions of people each week, and when the healthy-living guru prescribes a new supplement or food, a good portion of viewers can't wait to give it a try. We've reported extensively about how Dr. Oz recommendations can leave retailers scrambling and manufacturers hustling to meet demand. Still, the question remains, what can be done?

Mike Fata, co-founder and chief executive officer of Winnipeg-based Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods, is actively working to answer that question. Dr. Oz has plugged hemp seeds, touted as a source of vegan protein and essential fatty acids, 10 times in the last 18 months, and each time, "Fata panics a little," The Globe and Mail recently reported.

Fata, whose company produces hemp seeds, milk and butter, never knows when an Oz endorsement is coming. Often Manitoba can't fill all the orders that follow a mention, which is frustrating to everyone along the supply chain, including consumers who can't get the nutritious seeds to sprinkle on top of salads or blend in smoothies.  

Because supply is dictated by how much is grown, meeting demand is not as easy as instantly scaling up. Manitoba works with about 60 farmers, and uses half of all the hemp on the Canadian market, the Globe and Mail reports. The rest is purchased by other hemp companies that also buy directly from farmers. When another manufacturer reneges on a commitment, more hemp may come available, but Fata can't count on that. Instead, he's doing the same thing as other manufacturers of in-demand crops: trying to track Dr. Oz recommendations through his marketing and PR team and hoping for the best.

I can't help but think though, that there must be a better way. Isn't it in Dr. Oz's best interest to give manufacturers a heads up before recommending foods with a limited supply?

Case in point? Quinoa. Dr. Oz promotes a 48-hour cleanse that includes a breakfast recipe with the seed.  Unfortunately, the world's quinoa supply is under stress due to growing American interest. Increased demand is raising prices in Bolivia where much of the crop is grown. Natives who once relied on the protein-rich seeds as a diet staple are now eating much cheaper white rice.

Helping Americans eat healthier by promoting some of the world's healthiest foods is certainly necessary given the country's obesity epidemic. I wonder though if Dr. Oz could look behind the curtain and consider the impact of radically increasing the demand for a specific food before he decideds to prescribe it to his millions of viewers. 

Discuss this Blog Entry 7

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 16, 2012

Nicely written! It seems likely that this is something not considered by himself and his advisors. But, can we get them to listen? How do we reach him?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 17, 2012

Dr. Oz does us all a favor by educating the average American about nutrient-rich food. Seriously - you're complaining that he spikes sales of your product? Sure, it means short term problems, but in the end, this is great for everyone in the supply chain from manufacturers all the way down to smallholder growers in developing countries. Yes, there are short term problems, but in the long run, isn't it better to have Americans eating whole foods rather than the same old refined foods that cause so many health problems?

Kristin Volberg (not verified)
on Apr 17, 2012

Agree! It has been a challenge to provide everything Dr. Oz recommends but in this economy, he has been a Godsend! I also agree that there are some products like quinoa that might be in danger. Perhaps Dr. Oz and his advisors could do a bit more research on available supply before he recommends something. Dr. Oz is creating an awareness on how to be healthier that no one else has ever done before!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 19, 2012

leave him alone he is fueling great sales of healthy items , and helping pull to your stores

Linda Carey (not verified)
on Apr 19, 2012

I agree that it is nice for suppliers to have a "Heads up" on Dr. Oz's "honorable mentions" but let's face it....too much demand is a nice problem to have in today's economy. If the manufacturer or supplier can manage their communication properly and follow up with customers when product is available it can work. Simply keeping folks informed is huge...yes..stressful to have too much demand and less supply...but once again...a 'high level" problem to have.

Regarding hemp..if the United States farmers were allowed to grow hemp we wouldn't be in this ridiculous situation. I eat hemp seeds often on my salad and my "good hdl" in my cholesterol checks is "off the charts" healthy. Thanks to hemp and nutritional friends.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 19, 2012

Net positive. Decades ago when I was on staff with Atkins, I had the same concerns. Both were and are primarily entertainers with limited formal training in nutritional medicine. Viewers need to be alerted to the theoretical benefits touted but realize that neither is/was a true expert. Always second guess Oz and nuance with oversight from a nutritional biochemist and/or naturopathic physician. The implications are far too complex to be properly interpreted by a conventional physician gone "holistic" ...

Buck (not verified)
on Jul 26, 2013

Dr. Oz is helping to set the demand, get the DEA to let farmers in the U.S. farm it and create the supply. Oh wait, DuPont and Mon$anto wont have that!

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