Gummy vitamin maker plans expansion

Company with local ties eyes new manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

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A New Jersey-based company with Clark County connections on Thursday announced plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania so it can make more gummy vitamins, in high demand among today's consumers.

Church & Dwight Co. Inc., which purchased a local vitamin maker Northwest Natural Products in 2012, plans to continue operating facilities in Vancouver and Ridgefield, according to a spokesman for the Ewing, N.J. company. Its new Pennsylvania facility will expand by 75 percent the company's ability to manufacture gummy vitamins, said Matt Farrell, the company's chief financial officer.

"The reason for expansion is vitamin consumption in the U.S. continues to grow at 6 (percent) to 8 percent annually," he said.

Church & Dwight produces what were formerly Northwest Natural Products' two top-selling brands of gummy vitamins, Vitafusion for adults and L'il Critters for children. It employs approximately 800 people in Clark County at 6350 N.E. Campus Drive, Vancouver, and in Ridgefield near the Interstate 5 junction. The operations were purchased as part of a $650 million deal that closed in October 2012 in which Church & Dwight purchased Avid Health Inc., which operated Northwest Natural Products.

"Both the Vancouver and Ridgefield sites will continue to play a strategic role in the production of gummy vitamins for the foreseeable future," Farrell said. "We don't anticipate any changes to the staffing levels at the Washington facilities."

Farrell said his company anticipates growing demand for the popular gummy products among today's consumers, especially baby boomers, who view vitamins and dietary supplements as preventative health care. Global vitamin sales grew to $84 billion in 2011, up 6 percent from $79 billion in 2010, according to Nutraceuticals World, an online magazine.

"We are a more health-conscious society and our population is aging," Farrell said.

Church & Dwight Co. also makes household and personal products like Arm & Hammer detergents, OxiClean and Trojan condoms. Analysts project $3.2 billion in sales for the company this year.