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NAMMEX: focusing on organic growth (in more ways than one). (Supply Source).

Jeff Chilton, president and founder, of Gibsons, British Columbia, Canada-based North American Medicinal Mushroom Extracts (NAMMEX) has spent 30 years becoming intimately involved with mushrooms. His love for fungus mushroomed when he began studying mycology at university, eventually moving on to work on an actual mushroom farm after he graduated. Mr. Chilton commented on this experience. "At the time I did not realize that getting hired at a mushroom farm was probably the easiest thing to do since nobody wants to work there because of the smell, labor, etc. I started working there growing mushrooms over the course of seven years, ultimately becoming a production manager," he said. "I was lucky enough while I was there to work with a Japanese scientist that was experimenting shiitake and oyster mushrooms, among others. I was able to work with this scientist by overseeing some of the experimentation." According to Mr. Chilton, experimenting with mushrooms really broadened his thinking on mushrooms. "I was expo sed to all different kinds of mushrooms that were being grown and eaten in Asia but had not been introduced to the North American market yet. That, coupled with having read about reishi mushrooms and finding out about their wonderful medicinal properties, made me think that there is a lot more to this than the one mushroom that is known in North America," he said.

After Mr. Chilton left the company in 1980, he spent the next 10 years pursuing a number of different mushrooms, learning how to grow them and about their medicinal properties. This lead to eventual publication of a book, which Mr. Chilton co-authored, called The Mushroom Cultivator.

Finally, in the late 1980s Mr. Chilton began to focus on growing mushrooms for the supplement industry. It was at this point that NAMMEX, formerly known as North American Reishi, was founded. "At the time, no one had any idea about mushrooms as nutritional supplements because everyone was pretty much geared toward green plants and herbs," he said. "One of the first things I did was attend my first tradeshow in 1988. At the show I walked the floor with a couple mushrooms in hand trying to talk to the different companies selling nutritional supplements." In the early years of the company, education was the order of the day for Mr. Chilton. "The first five years of my business was spent trying to educate people as to the benefits of mushrooms because no one really had any idea that they could be used as supplements," he said, adding, "People were also unaware that mushrooms were a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and that they had been used in Asia for thousands of years. In fact, they could be co nsidered one of the first nutraceuticals."

In terms of NAMMEX's product offerings, the company supplies approximately 10-12 species of mushrooms in various forms including whole mushrooms, mushroom powders and extracts, mushroom mycelia and mushroom mycelia extracts. Mr. Chilton uses certain criteria to select the mushrooms he supplies to determine which are best suited for the market. First, he establishes if there is a significant history of folk use. Second, he examines the body of scientific literature for a particular mushroom in order to determine the degree of medicinal activity investigated by scientists. Of the 12 mushrooms he supplies, Mr. Chilton said, there are five major species that he deals with including, reishi, shiitake, cordyceps, maitake and agaricus blazei." Through its commitment to quality, NAMMEX became kosher certified in April of last year. In addition, the company has been certified organic for 10 years and is actively moving to certify all of its products. In these ways, Mr. Chilton said, "We are just trying to increase the quality of our products and add value."

For the future, Mr. Chilton hopes to maintain the steady growth rates he has enjoyed over the last several years. "Since the beginning, my whole business has been building like a snowball in that it has been slowly getting bigger. I think it was a great way for my company to grow because it allowed everything to take a very organic progression. I am a firm believer in slow, steady growth and if I can get a few new customers every year and maintain my existing customer base by giving them good service and products, that is really all I can hope for."


(North American Medicinal Mushroom Extracts)

P.O. Box 1780

Gibsons, BC, Canada, V0N 1V0

Telephone: 604-886-7799

Fax: 604-886-9626


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Author:Wright, Rebecca Madley
Publication:Nutraceuticals World
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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