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A case for cooperation in the natural products industry

The organic food and nutritional supplements industries are increasingly confronting the same questions, embracing the same opportunities and struggling with the same issues. So why don't we all just work together?    

Here we are, again, at Natural Products Expo West. To those of you staying at a Motel 6 in Chula Vista, I offer my sympathies. To those here for the first time, welcome to a mind-blowing walk (trotting may be required) through today’s natural products industry.

Speaking of natural, we will be seeing less of this word than we have in past years. There is a vortex of new and old forces at work causing a re-examination of some of our old and cherished ideas and practices such as:  What is natural, after all? Is organic non-GMO? Where do our products really come from…really? How do we do social good and be big at the same time? How do you feel when you see one of those really big mass-market brands in a massive booth square in the middle of the show? Are you thinking “freeloaders?” or “We have finally arrived?”

With all of this in mind, here are some of the trends that I expect to see and you may want to look for:

The organic food and dietary supplement worlds are merging.  As never before, common interests, threats and opportunities are bringing the food side and the supplement worlds together. The Food Safety Modernization Act, the definition of “natural”, the rise of non-GMO, global sourcing of our ingredients and who will lead us in Washington are all common issues between the two. Building on the legislative success of organics and supplements from the early '90s will require a whole new set of industry executives to be visionaries for their industry as well as the leader of their company. It is heartening that we will see some of this young leadership in action at this show.  I salute them.

So, amidst all the jostling, bumping and banging of our ideas and cultures, how about softly singing the Youngbloods’ classic 1967 tune, “Get Together.”  Maybe we are big enough that we should have a theme song. I nominate this one. I will have a copy of the lyrics with me if you need them. See you on the floor.


Loren Israelsen is the president of the United Natural Products Alliance.

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