Plant-based products have taken off like a rocket in recent years with no sign of slowing down. Neptune Wellness Solutions CEO Michael Cammarata tells us how consumers are changing the way they’re buying and why he’s excited about Forest Remedies, the Quebec-based company’s new all-natural suite of products.
What’s your professional background?
I started my first company when I was 13. Since then, I’ve launched several companies and worked across industries from biotechnology to advertising to electronics and even had a stint in the entertainment industry. I was first introduced to the world of natural wellness while managing the band Big Time Rush. The band’s fans were obsessed with learning about what beauty, health, and wellness products they used. I remember being intrigued by how many of the fans were clamoring for natural beauty products, so, in 2015, I invested in what I saw was the burgeoning naturals industry and co-founded Schmidt’s Naturals. Then, a few years ago, I was introduced to hemp and CBD oils at the suggestion of my mother to help me manage my anxiety. I learned that the benefits of hemp extracts go far beyond stress and anxiety relief. With their moisturizing, antibacterial, antifungal, and pain-relief properties, I believe cannabinoids will be the next wellness super ingredient, and I want to lead that industry. That is why I joined Neptune Wellness Solutions and worked to launch its first consumer hemp brand, Forest Remedies.
Why have plant-based products taken off in the past few years?
Consumers are smart; they’ve learned to question every ingredient in everything they use, whether it be food, beauty, wellness, or cleaning products. They want products that work and are sustainably sourced with natural ingredients, not chemicals made in a factory. We’ll continue to see this industry boom as more brands recognize that all-natural is what consumers want.
What are some of the benefits of using plant-based products?
Consumers intuitively understand that plant-based personal-care products can be healthier and better for the environment. But there’s also an opportunity for plant-based products throughout the home. You’d be surprised by how many chemicals in your home cleaners leave harmful residues on your surfaces; it’s something we don’t even think of. Because of this, I believe plant-based products with ingredients like CBD are poised to replace harmful household chemicals, making our homes safer and less toxic.
Tell us about the Forest Remedies line!
Forest Remedies debuted as the first consumer brand of Neptune Wellness in February of this year with a suite of all-natural CBD tinctures, ingestibles, balms, and pet soothers, as well as an exceptional essential oils line. We’ve also partnered with One Tree Planted, a nonprofit organization helping to rebuild the world’s forests, and a portion of all sales goes back to aid in that cause. We have also partnered with legendary conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall to create natural, plant-based hand-sanitizer products, essential oils, and hemp-derived products that will be co-branded as “Forest Remedies™ by Dr. Jane Goodall.” This partnership will provide consumers with affordable, sustainable, and socially responsible products to support their health and wellness. Neptune Wellness anticipates a Summer 2020 launch of co-developed products, which will be available for purchase on the Forest Remedies website and at select retailers, with plans for additional retail distribution.
What are the most popular products?
Our CBD balms continue to be our best sellers. They’re helpful in soothing muscle and joint pain.
You are about a year into your role at Neptune. What’s your advice for people who have never tried these kinds of products?
I always suggest starting with our CBD tinctures. You can control how much you’d like to take, and the flavors available taste great when added to your coffee or food. From there, you can build up to using the capsules, which might be a bit stronger. If you’re dealing with muscle or joint pains, the CBD balms would be an excellent place to start.
Who are your inspirations in this industry?
I keep a close eye on our competitors, but I’m also about charting our own course. My father, Bernard Cammarata, has been my closest confidant and—lovingly—the harshest critic throughout my professional life! Truly, I owe so much to him for that. His 30-plus years of C-suite experience included roles as PricewaterhouseCoopers, McCann Erickson, and PNC Financial Services. His decades of traditional know-how in a corporate setting helped level out my more creative, entrepreneurial side—and provide a road map, if you like, on how to marry those two elements to be successful. This served as a reminder to me, each day to keep a critical eye on the back end of the business, while still innovating. This duality is something I’ve brought to every business I’ve operated. It’s how I will ensure Neptune is a formidable corporate force in the health and wellness space moving forward, too.