Editorial: It's Nutracon Time Again

By Len Monheit

Each February for the past few years, it seems I get called upon to answer the why of SupplyExpo and Nutracon. This year is no exception and as March looms on the horizon, so too do these two events, each with distinct value propositions. Over the past several years, we at NPIcenter have been quite actively involved in the goings on, so in the matter of a disclaimer, please excuse our bias and excitement ;) ……


For SupplyExpo, its expanding show hall, and its relationship with Expo West provide an opportunity to establish connections across the entire value chain. Its unique crossover with Nutracon allows participants to leverage the formulation, science and product development focus, in both theory as well as practice. And this year, with a research chef to solidify the connection between concept and commercialization, and presumably to demonstrate how ‘taste is king’, I would expect the SupplyExpo Hall to be abuzz. One of NPIcenter’s focal points is the Exchange in the SupplyExpo Hall. We’ve put out feelers and inquiries to schedule several presentations involving emerging technologies and applications, in most cases, early stage organizations just beginning to get on the radar of commercialization. In a few other cases, we’ll have companies presenting perspective on current science intended to lead to novel market opportunities. Stay tuned for further details posted on the website as we bring companies from around the world to the SupplyExpo Hall.


I’ve been watching the Nutracon program evolve over the past several months. Fundamentally, it’s a challenging audience to serve, with expectations ranging from a series of new science presentations in a category, to a state of the industry, to tips on building sustainable brands, to strategic insights. I personally believe the current program goes a couple steps and layers beyond, with thought provoking topics with both obvious and non-obvious implications, like ‘Viruses as a Cause of Obesity’ by Dr. Richard Atkinson, to a discussion of ‘energy density’ and its implications for weight loss products.

For the past few years, we have heard repeatedly about the promise of nutrigenomics, with very few opportunities to really sit down and understand the linkage between nutrients and gene expression. That void promises to be at least partially filled by Dr. Deanne Liska from Ocean Spray, and bridging another perceived industry chasm, a panel of experts including Drs. Stephen Sinatra and Joseph Pizzorno will discuss how to build champions in the professional community, certainly one of the biggest chances for industry to reach beyond its core, committed consumers and so reach growth potential.

Synbiotics, Blood glucose management, Sports Nutrition in the Cross-Hairs (with Beijing quickly approaching), current realities of supplement GMP compliance, Capitalizing on beauty from within all represent Day 1 sessions followed by a closing plenary by omega-3 pioneer Dr. Jorn Dyerberg, who will speak about ‘Omega-3s in the 21st century’.

Day 2 starts off strong with Sasha Issenberg, author of The Sushi Economy and a topic that has relevance for anyone operating in a global economy with exceptionally strong market forces and a huge link with our sector, with its exceedingly complex value chain. Continuing the discussion of supply chain forces, Issenberg will then engage with Larry Kolb, Steve Allen and Guy Langer to discuss our industry challenges along with potential solutions for enhanced quality assurance.

Continuing a theme from Day 1, concurrent sessions will next deal with new science in burgeoning categories, including Steve Demos and Armin Salmin from Next Foods speaking on new strategy, science and applications for probiotics, alongside presentations and discussions on ‘Omega-3s and the FDA’, and ‘Preventing Alzheimers and Cognitive Decline’.

Day 2 afternoon sessions will include a real focus on applications, including Sensory Evaluations and Flavoring involving a high-powered panel including Mary Mulry, Debbie Poskanzer from Wild Flavors and Rhondi Shigemura from Senomyx, a company “ dedicated to becoming the world leader in the discovery and commercialization of products and services relevant to taste and olfaction,” which counts among its partners many of the most forward thinking food organizations in the world.

Probiotics makes another appearance on the agenda, this time dealing with new products, and effective strategies for participating in the immune and oral health markets, while in another breakout, innovation and research in sports performance will be presented.

Scoring a direct hit on another headline issue, the closing plenary for Nutracon will feature Shaun Assael, author of Steroid Nation, talking about the development of steroids and supplements over the past 30 years to fuel athletic performance with an impact on the supplement industry all the while.

Nutracon appears to have a bit of something for everyone and does so while providing reasonable depth and unique perspectives at the same time. In many cases the audience will dive quite deeply into a topic and the plenaries have been carefully selected to link strongly to headline issues.

I personally am looking forward to both Nutracon and SupplyExpo. Hope to see you there…..

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