This article is the second part of my tongkat ali journey, check the first part here: My tongkat ali journey part 1: the frustrated search for the best tongkat ali
After it was clear that I had to start a tongkat ali company if I wanted to offer the best product with the best customer support, the first obvious question to answer was were to get the product from. Here is the story of my journey.
First tongkat ali supplier: Sumatra Pasak Bumi
Sumatra Pasak Bumi is one of the oldest company in the industry, they have been selling tongkat ali online for over a decade. Because they were one of the first ones to sell, they quickly became a point of reference for buying Indonesian tongkat ali extract 1:200.
While doing research for the best tongkat ali supplier, Sumatra Pasak Bumi was presented as the only reputable source in several articles and forums. Turns out that other well known online tongkat ali stores were using them as suppliers so it seemed like the best choice. I also contacted Serge Kretuz, which is someone that owns several domains with information about tongkat ali and keeps a exhaustive database with information about where is each company sourcing their tongkat ali from (which by the way is mostly false information, read more about that on the article about tongkat ali sales ploy I wrote some time ago). We exchanged several emails and discussed different options for tongkat ali suppliers, from which it was clear that Sumatra Pasak Bumi was the best of them. I placed my first order of 300 bottles of sumatra pasak bumi tongkat ali 1:200 300mg capsules and dived head first in the tongkat ali market.
During the first year or so, things were going very well. Many people wanted to make sure that we were certified resellers of Sumatra Pasak Bumi before making a purchase. However some time after, some quality issues started to appear.
Sumatra Pasak Bumi: Quality issues and other concerns
During the time we were a reseller of Sumatra Pasak Bumi, we noticed some issues.
First, it was not uncommon to see tongkat ali capsules marked “SPB 1:50” mixed in the bottles with 1:200 extract. This problem was raised by a few customers and I noticed it myself too.
Second, some customers pointed out that the bottles were not packed with a quality standard. Some times the cap was loose, some other times the cotton was dirty or contained hairs. I did not take a picture of that, but another customer on Amazon reported the same problem.
Since this started to be a major concern, we decided to order only capsules and bottle them ourselves, allowing for more strict quality controls in our part. Although this worked fine for some months, soon enough we encountered problems in the capsules received, as you can see in the pictures below.
Making the switch from Sumatra Pasak Bumi and attacks from Serge Kreutz
Once we encountered these issues, it was clear that Sumatra Pasak Bumi was no longer offering the same quality standard that it once had. We were also questioning if the extraction process could have changed since we noticed a change in the taste of the product over the months (it was not bitter anymore, which is extremely odd since tongkat ali is among the most bitter things I ever tried). I discussed these quality issues with Serge Kreutz, and after announcing that we will be switching tongkat ali supplier, he changed his attitude to herbolab and posted articles slandering herbolab and myself (I won’t give him the pleasure to link to those from my blog, but you can easily find them with Google).
Now it wasn’t just a question of quality, it was also a question of integrity. We needed to find another supplier soon. I realised that there is more to a company than safety tests, I wanted to know what is their culture and their attitude towards their customers. I decided that if I wanted to know what the best supplier was, it was not enough to ask for a COA or a lab test, I needed to meet them in person and see how they work. Only then I can be sure to do business with a company that has the same values than Herbolab. I was ready to travel all the way to Indonesia and look for the best tongkat ali supplier myself.
Visiting Indonesia and the search for the best tongkat ali supplier
I started emailing other tongkat ali companies and after going through the standard paperwork, I asked them if they would be ok with me visiting their extraction facilities. You would be surprised to know how many of them went silent or said that it was not possible.
I was almost ready to give up on my quest when it came across a company called Javaplant, which happens to be one of the biggest extraction facilities in Indonesia, however since they were not heavily marketed (their customers are mainly big brands) it wasn’t easy to find them.
Second tongkat ali supplier: Javaplant
After contacting Javaplant I was sure that they were the company I was looking for. Here is their presentation:
And their description:
Javaplant was established to harvest Indonesia’s incredible resources for the world. With Javaplant’s state-of-the-art German technology and pharmaceutical processes, Javaplant is equipped to provide the breath of quality product offerings and custom products for your unique consumer products.
Since establishing its first facility in the Tawangmangu area near the scenic and cultural town of Solo in Central Java in 2001, the company has doubled its production capacity. Javaplant is certified NSF registered GMP, ISO certified, US FDA registered, C-TPAT compliant, Kosher certified and Halal certified. Javaplants’ laboratory is fully equipped to perform quality-control techniques, and its analytical tools range from pH meters, refractometers, moisture balance, TLC scanners, AAS, HPLC scanners, GCs, GC-MS, LC-MS, UV, VIS and FTIR.
I spoke to the CEO and he agreed not only to give me a tour of the extraction facilities, but also to put me in touch with the tongkat ali farmers that supply them with the raw tongkat ali material. I was going to presence the production of tongkat ali extract from start to finish, and this was the most exciting news I had ever heard in a while.
I got a sample of the product and it seemed like a high quality extract (super bitter as it is supposed to be). Also, the lab test and documentation were very thorough, which gave me peace of mind.
If you want to know all the details of that trip and get insider’s knowledge about the tongkat ali extract manufacturing process make sure to check the article on How the best tongkat ali extract is produced: from harvest to extraction.