Local officials visited the Vancouver factory behind Vitafusion and L’il Critters gummy vitamins on Thursday, saying they were just what the doctor ordered.
The vitamin brands have remained popular with shoppers in recent years and employ more than 440 people at dual facilities in Vancouver and Ridgefield, according to company representatives. The jobs are said to be well-paying, too, a fact applauded by state Sen. Lynda Wilson, R-Vancouver.
“While ours is not the sexy, high-tech manufacturing industries of today, the job opportunities (in manufacturing) represent a much higher wage at even the entry-level position,” she said.
The Thursday morning event — which included brief remarks from officials and a tour of the manufacturing facility — was orchestrated by Wal-Mart, which has a business deal with the vitamin-makers and Church & Dwight Co. Inc., the household brands conglomerate that bought them five years ago.
While hiring has remained static since the acquisition, Church & Dwight representatives said they were pleased the facilities have become faster and more innovative to stay atop the growing vitamin market.
The facilities reportedly produce 20 percent more vitamins than they did in 2012. Shawn VanSandt, operations manager for the Vancouver plant, said they can make 120,000 pounds of the gelatin-based vitamins per day.
Laurie Kirschner, a marketing executive with Church & Dwight, said the global vitamin and supplement market is now worth $8 billion globally, of which the gummy vitamin segment is worth about $900 million. She said Vitafusion for adults and Li’l Critters for children combine to own 25 percent of that segment.
“People are looking to take control and power of their own health lifestyle,” she said.
Those people are, as Kirschner put it, “health aspirers,” who juggle other daily duties and seek out daily vitamins as a manageable way to stay healthy. “It’s not that easy in this busy lifestyle,” she said.
Vitafusion and Li’l Critters are both made to be free of artificial sweeteners, dyes, fructose and gluten, among other things. Deborah Herron, a spokeswoman for Walmart who was on-hand to celebrate the retail giant’s own partnership with the vitamin product, said they have been popular with customers.
“It’s a growing brand,” she said. “It’s a growing product on our shelves.”
Church & Dwight, based in Princeton, N.J., bought the vitamin products from Vancouver-based Northwest Natural Products in 2012 for $650 million.