Health E-Insights

An Interview with Victor Ferrari of Horphag Research

By Sheldon Baker | January 4, 2017

As CEO, Mr. Ferrari is responsible for overseeing the company’s worldwide operations.

He is instrumental in driving the growth and expansion of Horphag’s flagship ingredient, Pycnogenol, French maritime pine bark extract. During his tenure, Mr. Ferrari has increased manufacturing capacity and expanded company operations in several countries, introducing Pycnogenol to more than 80 countries globally. He is responsible for spearheading generally recognized as safe (GRAS) certification, good agricultural practice (GAP) and good manufacturing practice (GMP) and has applied for and been granted both U.S. and international patents on various ingredients. Mr. Ferrari has continued the company’s mission and commitment to science and innovation by investing millions of dollars a year in research, amassing a research portfolio of 340 scientific publications. Under his watch, the company has expanded Pycnogenol’s product portfolio to more than 700 dietary supplements, cosmetic formulas and functional foods and beverages.

Health E-Insights: Tell me about Robuvit, your new branded ingredient.
Mr. Ferrari: Robuvit is a natural extract derived from French oak wood, and it’s rich in roburins—tannins found only in the oak genus. Several clinical studies have proven that this ingredient helps to alleviate symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and general fatigue, which affects millions of people. With limited options available in the marketplace for a caffeine-free natural solution to boost energy and manage fatigue, we are excited about the research that has been published so far and also what’s ahead in the pipeline, particularly in the field of liver health and detoxification. In addition, the ellagitannins present in Robuvit are converted to elagic acid, which in turn is metabolized into urolithins. Urolithin A in particular has received a lot of media attention lately and its presence in the human body after consumption of Robuvit has already been established and published.
Health E-Insights: Isn’t French oak used to age wine? Is a there a connection to your ingredient?
Mr. Ferrari: French oak has been prized for centuries for its resilience, flavor and preservative effects, which is why it is used to store and age wines and spirits. Roburins—a unique class of tannins found only within trees of the oak genus Quercus robur—provide many of these coveted attributes. Scientists involved in Robuvit research found ways to isolate and analyze these powerful molecules and developed methods to transfer their benefits to humans. Science shows that roburins and urolithins enhance basic cellular functions to combat the aging process, increase energy and fend off fatigue.
Health E-Insights: Does Horphag do a lot of research involving trees?
Mr. Ferrari: We certainly do with both our flagship ingredient Pycnogenol, and our newest ingredient Robuvit, as they are extracts derived from select genus, and we have dedicated more than 40 years to research involving the French maritime pine trees Pycnogenol comes from, amassing over 140 published clinical studies exploring the origins, benefits, safety and efficacy. Our approach to Robuvit is no different. It took us more than 5 years to bring the product to market to ensure the research, patents and safety data were first established. Research and development is the mission of our company and what sets our branded ingredients apart in the industry.
Health E-Insights: Has new technology played a role in developing your research?
Mr. Ferrari: Robuvit and Pycnogenol are standardized ingredients. Horphag Research utilizes a proprietary process and tailored technology to extract and prepare these nutrients.
Health E-Insights: You’ve worked in other industries. Did you ever envision joining the health marketplace?
Mr. Ferrari: Not at all. I had a very interesting life as a luxury hotel manager but could not fight against my curiosity in trying something else in life. It was a good decision, as I have seen not only our company grow strongly but also the industry mature over the past 20 years.
Health E-Insights: In what direction do you see the supplement industry moving in the next 3-5 years?
Mr. Ferrari: The natural ingredient and supplement market has grown dramatically over the past decade, and now one in five adults in the U.S. regularly take herbal supplements. As an early pioneer in this industry for decades, we have slowly witnessed younger and younger audiences globally embrace the concept of healthy aging. Consumers are savvy and continue to educate themselves on the benefits of natural ingredients, and we see the supplement industry poised for expanded growth over the next few years. I hope the industry will keep the pledge in providing safe, high quality and evidence-based products to the market and the consumers.
Health E-Insights: As CEO, what keeps you up at night?
Mr. Ferrari: Running a global company is an engaging challenge so that answer varies depending on the challenge or opportunity that draws our focus day-to-day. Sometimes it’s stressful; often it’s exciting. Most often, it’s about our overall industry and how we can continue to set a standard in science, research and consumer education. So far we have done a good job and I sleep through the night.
Health E-Insights: What book or piece of writing has had the biggest impact on your life, personal or business? Why?
Mr. Ferrari: Without question the book To Have or to Be by Erich Fromm. I may add The Art of Loving by the same author. Read them and you will understand why.

Sheldon Baker is CEO of the Baker Dillon Group LLC and has created numerous nutraceutical marketing communications and public relations campaigns for many well-known companies and brands.  For Health E-Insights interview consideration and campaign development, contact him at

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