Amway in the 1990s: Acquiring certified organic farms

A field of purple echinacea flowers lie in bloom at Nutrilite's Trout Lake Farm in Washington with Mount Ranier looming in the background.

Editor’s note: 2019 marks Amway’s 60th anniversary. We’re celebrating with a series of blogs highlighting the company’s history, milestones, products and legacy. Join the conversation by leaving a hashtag comment on each blog. Published comments will be entered into a drawing for free products in our Amway through the Decades Giveaway*!

The first farm

When Nutrilite founder Carl Rehnborg bought his first farm more than 80 years ago—a 3.6-acre plot in California’s San Fernando Valley—he insisted on having the ability to control the growing process of his plants through final harvest.

“On this, there was no debate,” recalls Sam Rehnborg, PhD, Carl’s son and president of the Nutrilite Health Institute. “His goal was to make nothing less than the best supplements for his customers.”

Purchased in 1992, Nutrilite Rancho El Petacal is in southwest Mexico. Spanning 1,589 acres, the farm grows spinach, kale, watercress, alfalfa, broccoli, parsley, grapefruit and oranges for Nutrilite products. Rancho El Petacal also provides several social programs for the farm’s community through a health clinic and community center.

Purchased in 1992, Nutrilite Rancho El Petacal is in southwest Mexico. Spanning 1,589 acres, the farm grows spinach, kale, watercress, alfalfa, broccoli, parsley, grapefruit and oranges for Nutrilite products. Rancho El Petacal also provides several social programs for the farm’s community through a health clinic and community center.

Sustainable farming practices

To accomplish that, Carl believed he needed to know where his ingredients came from and that they were grown in a way that ensured nutrient-rich plants while maintaining healthy soils with no chemical-based herbicides or pesticides.

His sustainable farming practices continued to be a driving force as his fledgling company grew into a successful business venture.

Nutrilite distributors, including Amway Cofounders Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos, would drive their sales teams out to California to witness the farming practices that fueled Nutrilite products.

Adjusting to growth

Those practices remained in place still when Amway acquired the Nutrilite brand in 1972 and with it the Nutrilite farming operations in Lakeview, California. And they came full circle in the 1990s when Amway purchased and began operating three certified organic farms to grow botanicals for Nutrilite ingredients.

It was an exciting time for Nutrilite, said John Lindseth, who worked for Amway for 30 years and was vice president of Nutrilite operations in the 1990s.

“Amway definitely put forth a significant amount of effort and commitment to the founding principles of Carl Rehnborg, which is to control seed to finished product,” he said.

In 1998, Amway opened its largest organic farm, Fazenda Amway Nutrilite do Brasil. Located on more than 3,000 acres in central Brazil, it is one of the largest acerola cherry farms in the world. More than 138,000 acerola cherry trees grow there, producing about 2,000 metric tons of cherries each year. The farm team harvests the cherries while they are still green and unripe, because that is when their vitamin C is at peak levels.

In 1998, Amway opened its largest organic farm, Fazenda Amway Nutrilite do Brasil. Located on more than 3,000 acres in central Brazil, it is one of the largest acerola cherry farms in the world. More than 138,000 acerola cherry trees grow there, producing about 2,000 metric tons of cherries each year. The farm team harvests the cherries while they are still green and unripe, because that is when their vitamin C is at peak levels.

Take care of the land, take care of the people

Carl’s philosophy also includes taking care of the employees. At each farming location Amway invests in efforts to help the community, whether through schools and community centers or access to clean water and health clinics.

And those employees put their heart into their work, John said.

“When you see a Nutrilite product, you know it has so much depth to it,” he said. “There’s a whole chain of people making it what it is—it’s everyone that works on the farm.”

A global agribusiness operation

Today, Amway runs a global agribusiness operation with nearly 6,000 acres of organic farmland in the United States, Mexico and Brazil that produces botanicals for Nutrilite and Artistry products. They, along with the Amway Botanical Research Center in Wuxi, China, serve as testing and research facilities in the company’s never-ending search for new or more effective ingredients.

The farms bring together Carl’s original farming principles with the best of modern, knowledge-intensive farming practices and high-tech, satellite-guided equipment. And Nutrilite is the only global vitamin and supplement brand to grow, harvest, and process plant ingredients on its own certified organic farms†.

That means researchers can track the entire journey of a botanical ingredient—from the seed planted in a specific plot on the farm, all the way to the supplement that sits in a consumer’s cupboard.

“That’s still a huge part of the Nutrilite story,” John said. “And it’s evidenced by the thousands of Amway Independent Business Owners that continue to tour those facilities.”

Trout Lake Farm in Trout Lake, Washington, was established in 1973, and Amway purchased it in 1998. While named for Trout Lake, it also includes a second location about 200 miles northeast in Ephrata, Washington. The West Farm, in Trout Lake, has more than 400 acres at the foot of Mt. Adams, a now inactive volcano that gifted the area with nutrient-rich soil. The East Farm, near the Columbia River Basin in Ephrata, has more than 800 acres fed by pristine waters to help ensure purity.

Trout Lake Farm in Trout Lake, Washington, was established in 1973, and Amway purchased it in 1998. While named for Trout Lake, it also includes a second location about 200 miles northeast in Ephrata, Washington. The West Farm, in Trout Lake, has more than 400 acres at the foot of Mt. Adams, a now inactive volcano that gifted the area with nutrient-rich soil. The East Farm, near the Columbia River Basin in Ephrata, has more than 800 acres fed by pristine waters to help ensure purity.

What’s your hashtag?

What hashtag would you use to describe Amway’s commitment to the Nutrilite sustainable farming principles? What hashtag describes the company’s commitment to quality ingredients while caring for the soil and the people who work it?

Post your hashtag comment below and be entered to win a container of Nutrilite™ Vitamin C Extended Release. And come back to Amway Connections for more blogs marking Amway’s 60th anniversary and opportunities to win our Amway through the Decades Giveaway*!


*The Amway through the Decades Giveaway is sponsored by Amway Corp. and runs from April 18 – July 1, 2019. No purchase necessary. See official rules here. †Source: Euromonitor International Limited.

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