The company was founded by Pierce Sioussat’s father-in-law in 1998; Mr. Sioussat joined the company in 2004 and has been CEO for 10 years. During the past decade, demand for natural products has soared.
“At my first NNFA show (now Natural Products Association) in Las Vegas in 1989 you could fit the entire event in the Hilton Hotel,” recalled Mr. Sioussat. But it wasn’t long before natural products found an eager audience and demand for natural foods, supplements, and beauty products took off. And demand for Bioforce’s services started to grow.
Bioforce became a multi-brand organization providing sales, logistics, and other services for European companies that didn’t see the need to build an entire U.S. operation from scratch.
“It doesn’t make sense for every company to have a stand-alone business in the U.S.,” explained Mr. Sioussat. “It’s a big capital investment to hire employees, find office space, and acquire the right contacts.”
Instead, these companies look to Bioforce USA to do all the heavy lifting in the largest market in the world.
“We are natural product industry experts,” insisted Mr. Sioussat. “We know the markets, we know the programs that move the products, we have the sales infrastructure and we have a reputation for managing high quality brands.”
And all six of those brands share some common traits: organic and sustainable cultivation methods, social mission, fair trade, and quality manufacturing process. Those attributes resonate with consumers, which is why Bioforce USA has grown to 25 employees and 80 sales brokers.
In the decade since Mr. Sioussat took over at Bioforce USA, the level of competition in the natural space has grown, marked by smarter competitors, and more of them. At the same time, the growth of e-commerce has soared, along with the amount of information that’s available to companies and their suppliers.
To remain competitive, Bioforce USA has adapted programs to make sure that its global partners’ messages remain consistent. According to Mr. Sioussat, some of the brands had a presence on the worldwide web a decade ago, others are just getting up to speed now and Bioforce USA guides newbies through the process, making recommendations and investments along the way.
“We are working with Google right now to help one of our partners make the right investment,” noted Mr. Sioussat. “We’ll spend a couple million dollars on the one brand to ramp up their program. If you don’t stay at the forefront (of technology), you’ll get left behind.”
An example of that would be new ZZ Sensitive from Annemarie Borland. Unlike other sensitive skin products that apply a barrier to problem skin, ZZ Sensitive contains pre- and probiotic complexes to get skin pH and flora back to normal levels. Retailers liked what they saw; in fact, Sprouts Farmers Market put ZZ Sensitive in all 250 stores.
Bioforce USA works with all of the major chains, including Whole Foods, Wegman’s and, of course, via online channels.
“It is difficult to find a natural product store that doesn’t carry at least one of our products,” boasted Mr. Sioussat. “But we want more. Sprouts, for example, carries five of our six brands; we want it to be six for six.”
At the same time, Bioforce USA is eager to work more with crossover retailers such as Kroger and HEB, and Mr. Sioussat is confident that his company offers the product lines and concepts consumers and retailers want.
“The probiotics category is exploding; people realize that what they put in their bodies impacts what happens to their skin.”
Room to Grow
Bioforce USA hasn’t added a new client since it brought Annmarie Borland on more than four years ago. But that’s not to say there isn’t room to grow—it just has to be the right fit, according to Mr. Sioussat.
“We want to stay focused on high quality European companies with a strong social mission,” he explained, adding that Bioforce USA is in discussions with companies now, but no announcements are imminent.
Bioforce USA’s sales quadrupled from 2006 to 2015, but the pace of gains has slowed during the past two years to “Only low double-digits,” said Mr. Sioussat.
As a result, the company is focused on adding points of distribution, developing programs and tools that yield strong per-store sales. For example, the Bioforce USA sales team meets with retailers to review robust SPINS data to illustrate how its brands outperform the competition. At the same time, Mr. Sioussat expects natural solutions to outpace traditional HBA sales.
“People continue to become better educated about what they put on their faces and in their bodies,” he explained.
Overall, he expects the natural personal care and supplement categories to continue growing at a high single-digit pace—even if the U.S. economy were to hit a speed bump more than seven years after The Great Recession.
“The natural products industry does better than conventional brands and lines,” Mr. Sioussat insisted. “We have a hair color line (Herbatint) that’s more expensive than Clairol, yet our sales went through the roof during The Great Recession.”
That’s because shoppers shifted their buying behavior, opting for quality products at retail rather than paying more for a trip to the salon. “Consumers may not go to the salon as often, but they still want to take care of themselves.”
With a lineup of natural beauty and nutrition solutions, Mr. Sioussat is confident that Bioforce USA will remain a force in the industry for years to come.