Monday, March 22, 2010

Toothpaste Update Part 2

You wouldn't believe the amount of e-mails we've been getting....."WHEN IS YOUR TOOTHPASTE GOING TO BE READY?!!!!" So, I thought I'd post an update.

1. Formula--done.
2. Type of packaging--done.
3. Order ingredients--hit a brick wall.

So, the last time I posted, I was all excited because I had finally figured out the packaging. Well, now we've run in to another snag: the supply of one of our major ingredients, organic erythritol.

We wanted to be the first certified organic toothpaste on the market. Well, now it's looking like it's just not going to happen in the near future. There's only one manufacturer of the main ingredient in our toothpaste, organic erythritol, and they've discontinued it. The price of the remaining supply of organic erythritol on the market is hiked up so high, we'd have to charge at least $20 for a tube of toothpaste. And then, when we run out of organic erythritol, we run out and can't make it any more.

I've found a supplier of certified GMO-free erythritol, which is great, but it doesn't allow us to put the USDA symbol on the product. Which makes me want to cry because I've been so excited to have this product out as USDA certified organic. What do you guys think? Will you still be excited about it if it's certified GMO-free instead of organic?

So, now the next step is to make a decision---either we charge $20 a tube for the organic variety and hope that someone starts making organic erythritol soon, or go with what we know we can get (GMO-free), have a lower-priced toothpaste and a reliable supply. What do you think?

Whatever we decide, we're shooting to have something ready by the end of April.

59 comments:

jsl108 said...

Might be ignorant, but how hard is it to make the erythritol yourselves? Seems like you could even sell it to others.

Anonymous said...

No way would I spend $20 for a tube of toothpaste! How much are you thinking the GMO-free will be?

virginia said...

First, do you have to use erythritol? Could you use stevia?

Anonymous said...

i understand the dream of having the first organic toothpaste in the market. i share it! but! i think your best move is to focus on the non-GMO ingredient, get your product out there and then trust a new supplier of org erythritol will emerge on the scene.

i'm a bit selfish as i wanna buy your toothpaste as i'm SURE it'll be better than everything out there, even without the USDA seal!

Corina said...

I think you should go ahead with GMO-free erythritol & keep hope that someone will begin making organic erythritol again at some point.

VegasJim said...

Wow, so close! Too bad the market conditions are forcing the decision.

In my experience with your products, you are so incredibly detailed and caring in your selection that I am confident that going with the non-GMO solution for now would be so close to perfect as to make little difference. I am sure your formulation will be many times safer than other toothpastes on the market even though that one ingredient is not certified.

When/IF organic becomes available again then reformulate.

Carlinne said...

Hi Stephanie,

How about starting with the GMO-free and when a supplier becomes available for the organic ingredient, produce that as a separate product. Just a thought.
Love your products!

Carlinne from Nanaimo BC Canada

Anonymous said...

Per eHow organic erythritol can cause stomach upset to those with IBS and can cause gas and bloating if consumed in large quantities. Why do you need a sweetener? Can you not just bump up the mint flavor and call it good? As a society we are to overly dependent on things being sweetened.

Anonymous said...

Hey Stephanie:

Christina here. Definitely worth it to pay the extra in my opinion and get the organic...as with all things in life...you get what you pay for:) Sorry for that bummer of a hurdle, but you'll pull through this and make the right decision.

Vee said...

I would be happy to buy a gmo-free to start with until you can find a organic supplier.
Thanks for all your hard work. :)

Anonymous said...

Offer the GMO-free erythritol toothpaste now. Change to organic when/if organic erythritol becomes reliably available at a reasonable price. Concerning package labeling: if the organic erythritol becomes available, use a sticker to update the information until the inventory of packaging is exhausted.

Anonymous said...

Why not use xylitol? I know it is readily available in organic form.

Karen Lana said...

My vote is for GMO-free! I would never pay $20 for a tube of toothpaste, Organic or not.

Thanks for asking our opinion and for all your hard work! Can't wait till it's ready.

Jamie said...

I say go GMO free and have a steady supply chain.

Anonymous said...

gmo-free. you guys are great! i can't afford 20$ for toothpaste and who cares about the certification. if it's from you it'll be great usda certified or not!

Irene said...

How frustrating! Establish your toothpaste line first. When your ingredient finally comes back on the market, make the substitute then. It will be easy for you to do so despite having your toothpaste already distributed. People who are your fans know your commitment to wholesome, organic ingredients, so they will purchase the product, knowing that you and your team have done your best to making an excellent product. And when you put out the toothpaste with the certified organic label, you can raise your product from really good to excellent!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for working so hard on this product for us. I personally am motivated most by knowing there is 'no bad stuff' in your products. So if you feel certified GMO-free erythritol meets your standards, I'm OK with that.

But I can see the branding dilemma for your company. Are all the other products at Bubble & Bee Organic 100% organic? It's not fun to have one product with an asterisk! Dang!

Kathleen B

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Wow! Thanks for all your input!

Anonymous---Actually, there is no organic xylitol on the market. If you look closely, you'll notice it's not certified. However, I am considering using xylitol instead of erythritol now that it's not going to be certified organic anyways. I was going to use the erythritol because I could get it in organic form. But now that it's not going to be possible, maybe we'll just switch to xylitol.

Anonymous #2--We're using erythritol or xylitol not as a sweetener, but for its anti-cavity properties. Stevia doesn't act in the same way at protecting teeth like these polyols do. The amount that you'd ingest incidentally wouldn't affect someone's digestion. Perhaps if you ate the entire tube you MIGHT see a small effect.

Cindy said...

I love all things organic, but the $20 is hard to spend right now.

One thing to consider....anything we scrub into our mouths and gums is instantly absorbed into our blood stream via the bucal mucosa, therefore its especially important for toothpaste ingredients to be organic.

It's a tough call. Sometimes, when I am not presented with a totally organic product or foodstuff, free of HFCS and soy, and all the things I don't want......I will settle for the best I can get, such as GMO-free.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

jsl108--Yeah, I thought of that too, but it takes more space and equipment than we would be able afford.

Spirit D. said...

So sorry - what a bummer! Can you sell it for a smaller margin until the organic cost comes down? If not, I would say just hang in there and wait for organic rather than using the non-gmo so that when you do launch it - it will be exactly what you wanted and be truly unique. There are already hundreds of natural and quasi-organic toothpastes out there. There's no need to make another one unless you can really improve on the purity. You still have lots of other amazing products!

Anonymous said...

What about xylitol??
I'd be okay w/ the GMO-certified ingredient. Although, you've worked so hard at staying totally organic!!
Hopefully another supplier will surface for you!

Chris said...

I believe from a cost perspective it is better to use the non-gmo for now until a better substitution comes along. Anyway, I know that xylitol has plenty of research showing its effectiveness as a cavity preventive.

Then when you do find an organic source for you can do the whole new and improved stickers.

Anonymous said...

I've been really looking forward to your toothpaste, especially as a safer alternative for my almost three year old, but I could never afford $20 for a tube toothpaste. I think the GMO free or going with xylitol will be just fine. You can always re-formulate or offer the organic version if it becomes available again. I also think having safe products your customers can afford is important. I trust that if you beleive an ingredient is safe, then it is safe. =)

Melissa Whitman said...

I think you should go with the GMO free for now. $20 is a bit much for some toothpaste. Even with the non-organic erythritol or xylitol, and knowing your other products, it will still be better than anything else I have found on the market. And I have been searching for a long time!!

Hannah said...

What about Wholesome Sweeteners stuff? http://www.naturalgrocers.com/organic_zero_erythritol_by_wholesome_sweetners_35_ct-p-9079.html

I've used them for baking for a while, and they are certified organic.

?

Anonymous said...

We NEED toothpaste from you asap! The GMO free is fine with my family and we will buy it!

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Yep, their supply of organic erythritol is dwindling too. I can't buy it in bulk, only in the 12 oz bags, and for not even a full pound it's $13.

Hannah said...

Curses and drats. Why is it all dwindling? Is there just not a market for it? And could you use stevia? Doesn't meld well with some (ok, many) flavors... but I bought raw organic stevia from Australia for 6$ a pound.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

It's dwindled because there's only one manufacturer and they've decided to stop making it. (Wholesome Sweeteners actually doesn't make it) Supposedly because it was too hard and expensive to make. Hopefully someone else will step to the plate and fill the need.

We're actually not using erythritol for its sweetness, but for its anti-cavity properties. Stevia doesn't have the same tooth-protecting properties.

Anonymous said...

I vote for either GMO free or non-certified xylitol. I just don't see many people buying $20 toothpaste. As someone who's still on the hunt to natural toothpaste that my kids will like, I'd love to see your product out sooner rather than later!

Jennifer S. said...

Here is your answer Stephanie. Offer one with the organic for those who can afford it and one that's GMO free. Or offer the organic and one without it at all if that is possible so we can save even more money. I have gotten over some pretty bad tasting stuff just so I can use safe products. Not only that, we do, after all, spit it right back out!:)

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, we'd buy either. However, the GMO-free sounds just fine. I understand your disappointment after all your hard work to get hung up now, but maybe it will become available and you can re-formulate at that time. As soon as the GMO-free hits, we'll buy!
Stephanie
Houston, TX

Anonymous said...

why not use essential oil? See
www.oramd.com
They are all oils and the strongest, tarter and plaque removing all natural tooth cleaner I have found. See amazon reviews too.
http://www.amazon.com/OraMD-3-Pack-4-Step-Hygiene-Problems/dp/B002C0F1L4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hpc&qid=1269370652&sr=8-1
The best stuff ever.
Change your formula.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

That's an interesting idea. However, I think we're wanting to make something closer to what people are used to using.

Johnsrinx said...

You know that I am behind you 100% whatever you choose to do. I think it's funny, your teeth and gums are important and irreplaceable. If you breakdown the cost of a $20 tube of toothpaste it would be pennies on a day, but most consumers would not buy it. Then again, most consumers would not buy organic body care products either, so the decision is yours. I would like to see a lower price, but I could justify the cost of a truly all organic toothpaste also.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't afford to spend $20 for a tube of toothpaste.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stephanie!
I'm so sorry about the disappointment! Obviously, I don't really have the knowledge for sourcing organic erythritol for such a thing as this in the bulk quantities you will probably need at the pricepoint needed...but what about Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Zero? It's 100% organic erythritol...Otherwise, I'll still try the toothpaste with as many of the ingredients being organic & natural as possible. (Though honestly, I don't like really sweet toothpastes.) Or, what about cranberry extract? It's been shown to be effective at helping teeth and gums.
Thank you for being concerned about the organic aspect--I really appreciate all your hard work!

Gary said...

Stephanie,
$20 a tube is a bit pricey. I also like one of the earlier posts stating that get your product out there, and make needed changes later.
One thing I did find is that Emerald Forest Sugar Inc in Broomfield, CO seems to be a certified producer of erytritol. Is this the one that is stopping production?
Gary

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Hi Gary--a good suggestion, but it looks like their erythritol is not organic, unfortunately.

Jillian said...

Go with the GMO free just to get it out there, and if the certified organic erythritol becomes available later, then change over. I'd really like to be able to purchase your new toothpaste, even if one ingredient isn't certified organic, it will be better than most of our choices on the market today!

bill said...

Stephanie, given what we have to deal with on the market, I'd certainly opt for a mostly organic, but 100% natural (non-GMO) toothpaste from you guys. I would certainly find non-GMO xylitol perfectly acceptable. We currently use Tom's (the SLS debate doesn't bother me much) and are just trying Burt's Bees (only 99.2% natural ... but what's the non-natural part?). The cranberry extract idea as a plaque fighter is also quite interesting. Do we have some idea where we're going to land for price and size?

Anonymous said...

$20 is way too expensive organic or not and it will probably come in a small tube. How about organic xylitol? There's some buzz that there's great benefits to gums and teeth when using xylitol

Brett Thackeray said...

It really amazes me that so many people, who I assume buy your products and are concerned about using organic ingredients AND want you to sell toothpaste, are so concerned about the $20 price. Yes it is quite a bit more than what we are used to paying, but what else costs $20? Half a tank of gas, lunch for two, a shirt, the candy you gave out at Halloween? Can any of these be sacrificed? Heck, I spend $20 on cookies every week. I bet I could spend it on 2-3 months worth of teeth cleaning. I think if the organic movement is important, and the certification is the backbone of the movement, then we should all be adamant about trying to make that happen. Can you not come up with an organic toothpaste without this ingredient? Can folks not spend an extra 25 cents a day to help make it happen? Is it possible to leave that ingredient out and sacrifice a bit of cavity fighting protection until an economical option comes along? I don't know much about toothpastes, but Doctor Burt's toothpaste (now discontinued), although not certified organic, did not have erythritol. They didn't claim cavity protection, just clean teeth and refreshed gums - maybe it wasn't as good as I thought???
Good luck, but please use the certification.

Spirit D. said...

I agree with Brett. Most people won't spend $20 on toothpaste but most people wont spend $2 on an organic orange either. Those who do should feel no different about the value of their toothpaste it seems to me. But judging by the comments, your fans would be happy to buy GMO free just as well so clearly we are in the minority :) Not that I think there is anything wrong with using the GMO free for now. I'm probably not knowledgeable enough about what is lurking in the other "natural" and quasi-organic toothpaste brands I already use, to know if this would be an improvement. I have a history of cavities and root canals that always scares me back to Colgate when I fear I'm on the verge of getting more from using my natural brand toothpastes for too long! I will say that if you manage to develop the first certified organic toothpaste that is anti plaque and anti cavity, I have $20 for you right here!

Anonymous said...

First I want to say we love your company and your products. We also think it its great that you look for input from your customers. I would be willing to pay $20. for toothpaste. I truly believe you get what you pay for. However, knowing that getting organic erythritol is problematic, I could also live with GMO free erythritol or xylitol. We currently use xylitol based oral products with our family and have all been cavity free for years! We're anxiously awaiting your toothpaste and anything else you have "waiting in the wings".

Anonymous said...

Stephanie, have you considered organic thyme extract as an ingredient in your toothpaste? I believe it has antiseptic properties and its an ingredient in Listerine

Musashi said...

I would recommend xylitol. Have you read up on all of the dental benefits of it? All natural amazing stuff and its a sweetener so now you have the best of both worlds.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Anonymous re: thyme. That's a great suggestion; we'll keep that in mind for future development.

Musashi: As I previously explained, xylitol is not available anywhere in certified organic form. Erythritol has the same great benefits as xylitol and can be found in organic form; that's why we're using it.

Gittel said...

I agree with a previous commenter that one without sweetener should be offered!I use one now from Herbal Choice Mari without any sweetener and the taste is fine, it's very minty. I would definitely buy yours if this was the case.

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Gittel--actually, the erythritol is not being used as a sweetener. It's a main component of the toothpaste, one we can't do without. It gives the formula its thickness, and it's also good for your teeth. It's slightly sweet flavor is just a happy side effect.

Theophila said...

Was the supplier Cargill or Falcon Trading? I noticed your post on Tradekey a while ago while looking for some organic ingredients of my own. Hopefully things go well! It would be difficult for me to spend $20 a tube of toothpaste - would probably just continue to use my own tooth powders, but if the product is good enough, I'd be willing! I understand the comments about people spending more on cookies or clothing or even coffee - but that's not me either. I buy natural and organic, in bulk, and tend to make everything at home, and over time I've whittled down the amount of personal care or health products I actually buy and just make at home. Toothpaste with the right feel and texture is one of those things I've given up in favour of a more natural and frugal alternative that I make at home, but doesn't feel quite as smooth nor is quite as convenient, but if you can make one that works well, I'd be willing to buy it!

Personal Care Products Wholesale said...

Its too expensive but maybe Ill try it sometime.Im willing if It can give me a very great result.

Anonymous said...

I found this on web. What do think to go with unprocessed sugar like honey? I made my own toothpaste btw with stevia.

Erythritol Is Not as "Healthy" as Claimed
Many companies market sugar-alcohol sugar substitutes as a "healthy" alternative to real sugar. While Dr. Mercola agrees that refined sugars are unhealthy empty calories, he states that sugar alcohols are nearly as damaging to an individual's health as traditional refined sugars. Dr. Mercola recommends, "eating unprocessed, organic and locally grown foods" to promote health. This means organic honey, organic cane sugar and other naturally occurring sweeteners are far healthier and more easily metabolized and utilized by the human body than sugar alcohol sweeteners such as organic erythritol.



Read more: What Are the Dangers of Organic Erythritol? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_5382511_dangers-organic-erythritol.html#ixzz1rzzgwsxS

Stephanie Greenwood said...

Yes, it is true that large amounts of any sugar alcohol can cause gastrointestinal distress because the body doesn't absorb them. However, I personally have baked with erythritol, had tea with erythritol, had chocolate with erythritol, and have had no problems ingesting even larger amounts. Erythritol is the easiest of all the sugar alcohols to digest.

"Although erythritol chemically belongs to the group of polyols, it has a digestive tolerance that
is much higher compared to all other polyols. Since >90 % of the ingested erythritol is readily
absorbed from the small intestine, minimal amounts reach the lower gut. Consequently, under the
anticipated conditions of use, erythritol does not cause laxation. Clinical studies from Bornet et al. [3]
and Tetzloff et al. [5] show that gastrointestinal effects in adults ingesting erythritol at up to 1 g/kg
body wt (up to 80 g/day) were not statistically different from those in persons ingesting sucrose at similar
levels."

http://www.iupac.org/publications/pac/2002/pdf/7407x1281.pdf

The small amount that would be ingested in a toothpaste is HIGHLY unlikely to cause ANY kind of effect, and are far outweighed by erythritol's beneficial properties for teeth. (Whereas using honey would promote tooth decay!)

John Predom said...

Wow! Was it really 2010 that you posted this? Time flies; is it a forgotten idea?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

I know, right? Time does fly. No, it isn't a forgotten idea, but we've run in to even more hurdles after this that I haven't posted about. It's still something that we're working on, but it's just been a long arduous process.

Zulma M said...

Where are you at with your toothpaste?

Stephanie Greenwood said...

A standstill. ;)