Heading into 2009, amidst at best, economic uncertainty, certain words are bound to resonate, both in and out of industry. The terms ‘value’, ‘ROI’, ‘smart’ and ‘pragmatic’ all seem to come with a sense of thoughtful calculation that one would expect to be the hallmark of the current recession. We continue to hear it said that the health related offerings we supply as a sector will fare better than many other industries. And in this era of promised healthcare reform, who knows exactly what the future will bring? In a few weeks, we’ll begin to get an inkling on what to expect in the legislative arena, but fundamentally, as it always has been, it’s up to industry itself to uncover the new and emerging opportunities. Perhaps never before has there been such an information crisis – we have so much data, current and retrospective, yet the climate is shifting around us daily, making it difficult to determine which data is actually real, current and even relevant. Is the economic data from two weeks ago significant? Are the industry data and trends based on 2007 retrospective important, or should they be weighted? Is organic still slated for double-digit growth in upcoming years or has that growth been modulated by recent events? Has (lack of) investment in capital projects changed supply equations enough that current or near future price of commodities will be impacted?
In about 7 weeks or so, the industry event season kicks off, at least in North America, with Natural Products Expo West, SupplyExpo and Nutracon. As per usual, the combined event will attract over 50,000 people, and the sheer critical mass almost ensures the successful completion of some business deals. On the SupplyExpo side, buzz promises to be significant in Hall A throughout with a full schedule of events at the Global Supply Marketplace including our NPIcenter Business Information and Technology Exchange, chef demonstrations, the NutrAward presentation for the best new ingredient of 2008, and related education including a special keynote presentation The Informant: The Man Behind the Movie, including Mark Whitacre the subject of the upcoming Warner Brothers and Steven Soderbergh-directed feature film, as well as the Discovery Channel TV documentary. The 2009-to-be-released movie features Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre.
Nutracon itself looks to be one of the best curricula and faculties ever constructed for the event. Nutracon is organized into subject oriented tracks (5 in all) with one track, ‘Weight Management and Obesity’ running both days. The other tracks include SuperFruits & Berries, Healthy Aging, New Developments in Vitamins and Minerals and Applications of Fermentation Technology. Beginning with the opening keynote by Dr. Jim Joseph of the US Agricultural Research Service, running through the novel ‘Ingredient Slim-Slam’, a gauntlet of critiqued weight loss ingredient presentations, supported by networking activities like a ‘progressive cocktail party’ to actively trigger the networking that can make Nutracon so invaluable, this event promises to deliver value and ROI to those that carve it out of busy schedules.
In most sectors, 2009 will be marked by the need for smart, tough decision-making. Our industry is no exception, but one can be absolutely assured that those making the best 2009 decisions will emerge from the current economic climate in the best position to take advantage of future opportunities. The dialogue and exchange of information sure to happen in Anaheim in March promises to provide ample ammunition for those engaged in smart, tough decision-making.