My dedicated blog readership will know that I came from the daily newspaper business, after a long career at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. In theory I was devoted to trying to tell it like it is. To bring to readers the unvarnished truth to the best of my ability.
So coming to a trade publication in the world of dietary supplements and functional foods was an uncomfortable fit at first. Let’s face it: This is a business in which some people, those on the fringe, will say anything. If I were forging rails for the railroads I couldn’t claim my products were half as heavy and twice as strong as those of my competitors. All of my customers would know better. But selling a product in this business, especially in the problem categories like weight loss and sexual health, well, for some marketers anything goes.
Which brings me to my current employer, New Hope Natural Media, and why it’s different. Even if you’re an advertiser paying for the privilege, you can’t say just anything you like around here.
New Hope Natural Media is the only media company within the natural products industry that has a dedicated Exhibitor and Standards Department.
That’s the boilerplate. But what does it mean?
It means that every thing that appears on the floor at Supply Expo, Expo West and the other New Hope trade shows – all of the banners, all of the handout literature – goes through a rigorous process to ensure that it complies with federal regulations. It means that the advertisements that appear in New Hope publications go through the same process. It means that New Hope’s industry partners are willing to step up the to plate in cooperation with Don McLemore, director of the New Hope Standards Department, and his team members Michelle Kelly Zerbib and Steve Taormina, to try to make this a better, more reliable business.
Not everybody plays by the rules. For obvious reasons, we won’t name names here. But Taormina showed me a case of a falsified organic claim, in which a certification stamp was crudely pasted into an e-mail attachment. It’s not an isolated incident, unfortunately.
“This year will be our first year working with New Hope for exhibiting in Supply Expo,” said David Romeo, CEO of Nutraceuticals International. “The only experience I have working with Don McLemore so far is submitting our brochures for review and approval to enter the show floor. I think that it is very beneficial. It is a great way to keep standards at their best to help protect companies from submitting noncompliant claims to create a high-quality trade show.”
I’ll be tracing the development of the Standards Department in an article for the March issue of Functional Ingredients. It’s a big reason why Supply Expo and Expo West are the preeminent events in the natural products industry. And the existence of the Standards Department, and New Hope’s commitment to doing things right, are big reasons why I am here.