Sunrider is a multilevel marketing company based in California and specializes in herbal supplements and extracts.
Their product array is dizzying, and they’ve expanded into cosmetics, kosher and halal certified products, and more. The core of their product line is herbal food, which is a combination of herbal extracts and ingredients as well as “real food” products, so you aren’t taking just a supplement pill or capsule.
Did I get on board? This explains everything:
The company was founded in 1982, but by the mid-90s, it had found itself in considerable legal hot water. The company was found guilty of tax evasion, among other charges, and one of the co-founders spent time in prison (and the company was hit with an eye-popping one hundred million dollar fine for back taxes).
The company bounced back from this, only to have more legal tussles in the mid-2000s. The United States Federal Trade Commission alleged the company was making false health claims about their product, and as a result, the company changed its marketing practices.
Today, the marketing material focuses on “health” and “well-being” instead of specific medical issues, but you don’t need to look too hard to find products geared towards particular needs.
The real stars of the Sunrider lineup are its herbal foods. These aren’t supplements that come in a pill or capsule; they’re edible food items made out of traditional herbs and extracts. The best selling herbal food is definitely NuPlus, a supplement food intended to help you burn fat and maintain a high metabolism.
The ingredients of NuPlus are typical of Sunrider’s other herbal foods, in that they include a blend of edible Chinese herbs and food ingredients NuPlus features, among other things, the plant Coix Lacryma, Jobi seed, soybean seeds, and Chinese yam root, plus a number of lesser herbal extracts.
These are arcane, obscure ingredients; if you want solid science behind these formulations, you’ll be waiting for a long time.
To date, there’s no solid research on pretty much any of the herbal ingredients in most of Sunrider’s products, so you’ll have to trust the herbal wisdom of the product’s formulators—probably the founder, who was a Taiwan-born herbal medicine doctor (and who spent time in prison for tax evasion).
Another top-seller is Sunrider’s herbal tea, Calli Tea. The formulation is a passion flower-based herbal tea, with a number of rare Chinese herbal extracts combined into the blend.
The tea is claimed to boost energy levels, increase your alertness, increase your body’s antioxidant levels, and help burn fat. Again, there’s no good science behind this, and the ingredients are sufficiently obscure to prevent any real investigation into their efficacy.
Since it’s marketed as a food, not a supplement, the ingredients list doesn’t disclose the actual amounts of each of the herbs and extracts either, so even if you could find research on the efficacy of one of the herbs, you wouldn’t know how much was being used and whether it was an efficacious dose.
Sunrider does have a unique take on the meal replacement shake. Their VitaShake is based on whole soybean protein instead of a soy protein isolate, and is low (but not free of) sugar.
It is more carb-heavy than other meal replacement shakes, though, so if you are on a low carb diet it’s not the best choice. The marketing material touts the use of “whole” soy protein, instead of isolate, but protein isolates are actually a more pure and more expensive version of a protein.
The other star ingredient of the meal replacement shake is coix fruit, which is from a plant native to southeast Asia. It has a long tradition of history as both an herbal remedy and a real food ingredient for people around the world, but it’s poorly researched as a medicinal substance.
Like many of the old-school multilevel marketing networks, Sunrider has something of an old-fashioned setup. Their wholesale discount is moderate (20%) and joining as a member is free.
To access the higher level bonuses, you need to upgrade to an Independent Business Owner, or IBO. This costs $100 and gives you access to additional marketing materials, as well as the ability to earn commissions on your downline.
The actual compensation plan is hard to find and not very detailed, which should raise some eyebrows. It’s never a good thing when a company is trying to be sneaky about what they’re up to.
Their income disclosure statement is also not available online, which should be a cause for concern too. An honest MLM would be upfront about the income of their distributors.
Sunrider’s roots in traditional Chinese herbal medicine definitely offer it a competitive advantage in terms of market penetration, but there are a lot of things to be concerned about.
Not the least of these is Sunrider’s history of legal trouble and deceptive marketing practices, both with respect to their products and with respect to their distributors’ well-being.
All the warning signs indicate you should steer clear of this MLM. When getting into network marketing, you want as much information as possible, both about the products you’ll be selling and the payment structure and income disclosure of the parent company that you’ll be working with.
Because Sunshare is not forthcoming on either of these fronts, it’s definitely a good one to avoid. Even within the herbal medicine niche, there are better options that are more transparent with their product ingredients and their income compensation structure.
If you’re doing it for the money, there are better ways to kill your day job. You might like our coaching because it shows you the good life without peddling overpriced products to your family and friends.