Musings from SupplyExpo 2010

And so it concludes again.
Nutracon, SupplyExpo and Expo West are in the books, industry’s enthusiasm and passion has been once more demonstrated, the year is off to a fine start with indications that product pipelines are beginning to deepen, the industry eye on Washington is doing double-time, and perhaps most importantly, the annual gathering of friends and colleagues had that unique spirit that makes this so much more than just another category to do business in. Approximately 56,000 folks gathered in Anaheim for events, education, a tradeshow, meetings and much more – and few seemed to have left disappointed.

My own experiences were predictably SupplyExpo and Nutracon dominated, and I can honestly say that in addition to being totally exhausted, I’m ‘seriously’ upbeat. The interest in education was maintained strongly through our five days of programming (right up until show close Sunday afternoon where we literally had to shoo some folks away from social Networking speaker Heather Smith). And just prior to that presentation, some 50 people listened to Michael McGuffin, Marc Ullman and John Venardos discuss the current regulatory/legislative environment and a dozen issues – from all around the world.

Had Senator McCain not backed down on S. 3002, the passion with which this industry works would have been even more in evidence, but even so, controversy in identifying the enemy and in developing strategy to combat future threats still dominated many conversations. Apparently, look for further groups and ‘coalitions’ to form that represent these various approaches to the current political environment.

On Saturday at SupplyExpo, we featured a session on ‘Breaking Supply Issues’. Panelists for this session included CRN’s Andrew Shao, UNPA’s Harry Rice and GOED’s Adam Ismail. The topics predictably ranged from GMP issues to Certificates of Analysis to adulteration to the current threat to the omega-3 category posed by Proposition 65-related action in California. Among the issues that will bear further scrutiny are certainly pending New Dietary Ingredient guidelines from the FDA as well as any enforcement actions brought against ingredient companies rather than finished product manufacturers.

Needless to say, there were a lot of other things going on at Expo. I just wanted to point out these few.

The strong presence of New Zealand companies livened up the event. With companies on both sides of the aisle (ingredients and finished products), this country shook up the social scene at the International reception, stuck together as a group, and made a definite impact throughout the weekend. Lots to look forward to from these guys….

As noted, the threats to current supplement regulations dominated any political/legislative discussion. We must be careful lest the biggest threat to continued business become ourselves……

Social media is alive and well as a factor in our business. Unfortunately its use to circumvent regulation and standards is also alive and well. While regulators and New Hope standards personnel were policing the show floor, several exhibitors reportedly were using social media outlets to say what they couldn’t elsewhere.

Nothing like a good battle to bring unity – of sorts. The recent Prop 65 activity on fish oils means that GOED is squarely in the spotlight as industry challenges the lawsuits over alleged PCB levels.

Interest in EU activity remains high, and not only for those seeking to enter the market. The health claims opinions handed down by EFSA are contributing to serious global questions about standards of evidence. Fundamentally, the cost benefit analysis of clinical research is also at stake. Some understand the larger implications.

How sweet it is…. Most of the major sweets companies were present as natural sweeteners continue to mainstream. With a series of issues teed up at Nutracon, the show floor battle of sweets companies was quite in evidence. For those interested in the topic, stay tuned for future education programs brought to you by our Supply Network. Stevia, Reb-A, erythritol, Lo-han – let the dance continue. For those that missed the Nutracon program and debates, those materials will be posted shortly and available for a fee.

Hot stuff… Gluten-free continues its rise, salt reduction is a recent driver, antioxidant products continue to proliferate, and the global nature of this industry continues to become more evident. In both ingredients and finished products, international trade is on the upswing as companies seek new markets for both new and established products.

Shift of focus – With SupplyExpo, Nutracon and Expo West concluded, a certain focus now shifts to the next New Hope events in June (Yes, I realize that other events such as Vitafoods intervene). Of personal interest is a newly launched event that I hope begins to define a select community. Join us for the first Nutricosmetic Summit, June 10th in Las Vegas. Co-located with Natural Marketplace, we’ll begin exploring regulations, trends and most importantly emerging science that supports the benefits of ingesting nutritional ingredients for aging, skin health and more.

To all the friends I saw in Anaheim – it’s wonderful to share more experiences with you as we recommit to this industry. To those select few absent from Anaheim – you were missed. As we move through 2010, I’m proud to be associated with such a driven, passionate, motivated bunch. Thank you.

Please feel free to share your own Expo moments by commenting here or on Linked in….

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