Op/Ed by Nichole Hastings, NPIcenter
This year’s NNFA trade show was, according to virtually everyone polled, exceptional. A number of exhibitors said they wrote more business during the one-and-a-half day show than they did at the 3-day Expo West. The floor was busy, the mood good and the seminars full, differing from many trade associations and shows in other industries. Recently, I have participated in a number of shows in the sew and vac, embroidery, print and graphics industries, where I’ve seen infighting, and shows that were once very large and are now very small, with serious concerns for the future of their business. To come from those shows to the Marketplace 2002 last week, and see positive attitudes, business being written, and overall membership growth, was a very welcome change.
The NNFA has been making changes over the last year; the tradeshow is just one of them. At this year’s event there was a 15% increase in companies exhibiting, although virtually all companies took less booth space so the increase did not translate into a larger exhibit floor. Retail membership has risen 5% this year, a very positive sign. Although retail membership accounts for only 7% of the annual budget of the association, having retailers as members is very important as it helps these retailers run more efficient and successful stores, which in turn, helps the industry as a whole.
The NNFA is taking the lead in supporting all of our businesses. With GMP training, business insurance, business training, regulatory activities, and general support, it is a wise decision to support the trade association. With business becoming more optimistic, elections coming up, and regulatory issues uncertain, having an effective industry voice is imperative.
Not Just Local Issues
Many years ago, the slogan “Politics is local” was coined, and for many years, this was true. The focus was on local politicians and races. The present reality is that everything is global or affected by global issues. The business success and failures of states and countries other than ours has a great effect on everyone. A law passed in one state often sets a precedent for others, as do country laws and regulations. Similarly, the actions of one company can have a major impact on an entire industry.
For several years, the European Union (EU) has been working diligently to make food laws the same across the Union. This move is very important, since it enables the import/export of food products, some critical to health, and most critical to the financial welfare of the Union. One aspect, is the move by the EU to set maximum upper limits on nutrients or dietary supplements.
For years there has been concern over this move to establish maximum limits. What the EU does for its own economic growth and welfare should have little bearing on the U.S. , but it just may have, certainly economically, as fewer products and ingredients will be exportable to these countries. It may also give the FDA the momentum it needs to attempt to unravel aspects of DSHEA. This potential is quite serious, and should be of great concern to us all.
While addressing the NNFA meeting, Senator Harkin made a very significant point. He is a US Senator, not just an Iowa Senator. While he serves his home state residents’ needs, many of the issues he and every other Senator deal with has the potential to impact each of us, positively or negatively, since politics is not local anymore. The freedoms enjoyed in the U.S. have made organizations like The Healthy Foundation possible. Thanks to the generosity of the industry, The Healthy Foundation supplies more than 10,000 children daily with supplements vital to their physical and mental health. And there are groups doing likewise in other countries and other projects in the works to provide supplements to other groups. These programs not only help people, but also provide valuable data on the overall benefit derived from supplementing diets with vitamins and minerals.
To accomplish everything we want to, to be able to continue to provide supplements and information to the public, to continue to offer consumers choices in health care, it is critical that we look past our own front lawn. What we do, or more importantly what we do not do here, WILL have an impact on individuals and businesses in other countries. Over the next few months, you will begin to hear more about the EU directive and the Congressional and Senatorial races in the US. It is important that every effort be made to support individuals that support our industry and way of life. It is also important we support our trade association. Without the trade association, we have no trade.