Editorial: Early Musings From Anaheim

By Len Monheit

As the energy rush dissipates and people return to ‘normalcy’ after what can only be described as between three to five days of over-stimulation and intensity. It will undoubtedly take many days, if not weeks for the impact of the recently concluded Natural Products Expo West, SupplyExpo and Nutracon to be felt. A few weeks ago, I described the event as the practical launch of industry’s 2007 year, and the billing was right on target.

Over 48,000 people attended with so many events and activities that the mix of business, social, interactive, and educational opportunities was pretty much overwhelming. At this point, I have to admit to some “event burn-out” myself – there has just been so much going on.

As I look back over the past several days, a personal highlight has to be firstly; a night dedicated to the American Botanical Council where I was struck again by the passion and commitment of those interested in and committing to herbal medicine, led by Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director. As a fortunate but relatively recent entrant into this industry, I have had the opportunity to learn a bit about the motivation of leaders and visionaries such as Mark, as well as some of their earlier experiences. The story these individuals tell and the legacy they have built is truly inspirational, as it was recognized last Thursday night in an event supported by many of the industry’s leading organizations.

The second event which anchored this observation was the celebration of the American Herbal Products Association’s 25th birthday the next evening. Predictably, many of the same industry legends and leaders were in the room, as yet another perspective and series of anecdotes were presented as those with such commitment gathered many years ago and in a direct cause and effect linkage, influenced the industry we see today. These events were together absolutely amazing in putting into perspective what we are part of today and I sincerely congratulate both ABC and AHPA. (More to come in future coverage.)

I must confess that I spent a good part of my actual Expo experience in the SupplyExpo area. I’ll be writing about a few more observations in coming weeks, but one early point that strikes me is that the formation of the CRN working group on omega-3’s, now operating as the GOED omega-3 association, was truly a visionary step as the omega-3 sector continues to boom and attempt to differentiate in both food and supplement applications. Not only was formation of the group critical in establishing standards and building category credibility, it recognized that if successful, other entrants would arrive on the scene without perhaps the same commitment to quality and responsibility and that a basis for commitment differentiation was required. As a word of caution for those seeking omega-3 for inclusion in your products, be sure to check whether your supplier is a member of the GOED omega-3 group of companies. As the volume of interest in this category increases, so too do the numbers of suppliers offering to fill requests, and perhaps not with the same commitment as GOED members.

I’m going to close there for now to collect more thoughts for inclusion in next week’s NPIWatch.

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