During the week of October 4th, I attended my second CRN Conference at the Hyatt Tamayo Resort & Spa, just north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Including speakers, sponsors, attendees and staff, 160 people joined together to network, enjoy themselves and attend sessions lead by an impressive list of industry leaders.
The Council for Responsible Nutrition out did themselves this year, producing a conference that I feel was an improvement upon a very good event last year in Arizona. The networking began Thursday evening, but the education sessions began Friday morning with a keynote from David Acheson, the Associate Commissioner for Foods at the FDA who outlined their Food Protection Plan introduced in November 2007. With an emphasis on prevention, FDA hopes their new plan will allow them to get ahead of food contamination and adulteration issues that have plagued the U.S. in the last 48 months.
Following David was Dr. Josephine Briggs, the Director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) who presented the results of the new National Health Interview Survey. Surveying 30,000 households and 75,000 people, NCCAM asked about CAM use in 36 therapies and across 81 conditions. The results found that the use of CAM has increased from 36% of the population in 2002 to 38.3% of the population in 2007. Non-vitamin and non-mineral dietary supplement usage remained relatively flat during this time. Interestingly, among other things, the found that CAM use strongly correlated to advanced education, even with income corrections. Most common CAM use was in the western part of the U.S., while consumers in the South were the least likely to use CAM.
One of the most interesting sessions for me was the consumer research panel staring Thom Blishcok of Information Resources Inc. and Maryellen Molyneaux of Natural Marketing Institute. Thom talked mostly about the dynamics of the greater economy in crisis, while diving deep into the surprisingly strong performance of dietary supplements in the food, drug and mass merchandiser markets. Maryellen presented NMI's 10-year consumer panel research with a focus on defining the "Dr. Me" health opportunity in the United States. Randi Neiner finished up the session presenting CRN's annual Consumer Confidence Survey that found supplement usage trends flat at 65% versus last year with a small rise in confidence most likely reflecting a drought of negative media coverage of supplements in 2007.
Saturday's speaking highlight was Dr. Mimi Guarneri of the Scripps Institute for Integrative Health, who presented a holistic review of health and health conditions in the United States. Dr. Guarneri is a true thought leader in the medical field when it comes to integrative health and it shows in her pragmatic and open approach to healthcare, not sickcare.
The 2008 CRN Conference was great for networking and content and I thank the staff at CRN for producing another great event. I look forward to next year's event, which is rumored to be moving to the West Coast.
Below are a few videos from the event, including a testimonial from Steve Mister, President & CEO of the CRN.