Vita Health is one of Canada’s first health food stores. G.W. Seier started Vita Health in 1936 as a small mail order company, selling various herbs and patented medicines. What started out as natural remedies for a European clientele quickly spread to local residents and the mail order business grew. Vita Health’s first retail store opened soon after at 220 Portage Avenue.
In the 1960s Vita Health began to package and wholesale herbals and vitamins throughout Canada. Vita Health’s manufacturing facility opened in Manitoba in 1974. It is here where the still popular VHC vitamins and minerals and HSC herbals were developed.
In 1971, John Holtmann began working for G.W. Seier and the family business. He started out in manufacturing, continued in purchasing and eventually became the national sales manager for Vita Health. In 1979, Mr. Seier transferred control of the Vita Health company, both manufacturing and retail, to his children. Both sides of the company continued to grow and prosper and the manufacturing division emerged as one of the largest providers of supplements for the Health Food and Mass Markets channels in Canada.
The Vita Health retail stores continued to flourish and grew to 7 stores in Winnipeg, including the flagship store located at 296 Kennedy Street. In 1997, Vita Health Company was sold to Leiner Health Products of Carson, California. John Holtmann, G.W. Seier’s son-in-law, purchased the retail stores in 1998 to keep them as a family-owned company, operating as Vita Health “Natural Food Stores of Manitoba,” now Vita Health Fresh Market. Since then Vita Health Fresh Market has continued to lead the pace in Manitoba’s highly competitive natural health market, currently operating 6 locations.
Carrying forward into the third generation, John’s son Mathew Holtmann was appointed President of Vita Health Fresh Market in 2011. Since 2007 Vita Health has opened 6 Fresh Markets, which offer full service organic groceries, supplements, herbs, natural beauty and green household products.
A key to Vita Health’s success lies in remaining true to the personable and dedicated business practices of the store’s founder, G.W. Seier. We have been able to do this by remaining a family business.
At Vita Health Fresh Market our commitment to our customers, business partners and staff is simple – we are in the business of empowering people to lead healthy lives.
Vita Health’s sustainability initiatives are multi-faceted. We give Winnipeggers what they need to make it easy to lead environmentally friendly lives by providing one of the largest selections of local, organic and non-GMO goods in Manitoba. In fact, many of the brands we carry have sustainable missions of their own. However there’s more to being a sustainable business than partnering with sustainable brands. Here are just a few of the things we do to make Vita Health a sustainable business:
Food Waste Diversion – In order to minimize our food waste, we make twice weekly donations to two Mission food programs within Winnipeg.
Recycling – Both our stores and head office participate in a recycling program.
Reducing Food Miles – We work with an extensive network of local farmers and producers. Check out our Local section to learn more about who we work with in Manitoba.
Plastic Reduction – Vita Health currently offers biodegradable plastic bags and paper bags, as well as reusable bag options at the till. In addition, we allow customers to bring their own containers when refilling bulk items.
Energy Efficiency – We strive to reduce our ecological food print by choosing energy efficient equipment and supplies to run our stores, from LED lighting to energy-efficient appliances and environmentally friendly cleaning products.