Editorial: Momentary Pause Leads to Strong finish

By Len Monheit, NPIcenter

[email protected]

I'm going to keep things short this week (cheers) as we gear up for NNFA, IFT and the Newport summit. It'll make for a busy few weeks for us here at NPIcenter, but it's a great chance to get together with many of you on whom the success of the site and our programs rely.

Over the course of the last six years, many changes have happened in the industry; companies and people are no longer involved, and many of the momentum generating forces are only getting started and have yet to make their complete impact felt. I expect the next three years will see a continuing maturation, more successful projects involving the convergence area of nutritional foods, validation of several key dietary supplements and natural health products and outright elimination of others as science fails to back up some of the beliefs and claims that are currently being made.

Trade shows and trade associations will always have a significant role and impact for us. As more issues, opportunities and challenges arise, it will be interesting to watch as both shows and associations evolve their missions and objectives to respond to the pressure of attendees and constituents. We're certainly seeing far more communication in general, by companies, as well as the associations, and I think this will continue well into the future.

As the various sub-sectors of this huge industry redefine and continuously regroup, one of the challenges will be to effectively build and morph the various communities that will emerge - and keep them plugged in on an ongoing basis. We're currently seeing efforts at connecting the 'science community' with industry, then there's organic, personal care, proponents of functional food approaches, herbalists and the herb growing community, the science of sports nutrition and the products targeted specifically at this industry beginning with basic vitamin mineral supplementation, moving to recovery and support products, and leading ultimately to performance products.

Our audiences (on-line, customers, consumers, whatever) are becoming more sophisticated and expectations continue to grow. What was good enough a year ago is no longer adequate. Whether this involves the application of technology or simply a better level of service, companies need to get a performance boost from much of their operations and activities. Information, in the appropriate form, is absolutely critical. Whether this involves product support literature, a dossier of substantiation or in Canada, a willingness to provide an ingredient master file to be submitted to the Natural Health Products directorate to facilitate compliance, we'll do business in new ways as relationships are forces to evolve. This doesn't mean that hand shake agreements for ingredient supply will cease to exist, it simply means that the handshake must be backed by substance and from time to time the magnifying glass will be out, and the performance clauses and expectations of the agreement and relationship will be more closely monitored.

So, you ask, why this message, now?

Well, the short answer, (and I said I'd keep it short) is that as we plan for the events and activities over the next few weeks, it provides us here at NPIcenter with an opportunity to examine the changes over the past six years, measure our expectations certainly for the coming events, and continue our program evolution so that we can play an appropriate role in the industry emerging around us.

As we pass the half way point of 2005, NPIcenter is on track to receive 2.5 million viewers for the year, serving up about 12 million pages. We Thank all of you for your support and interest, and ask you to please continue to communicate your needs and expectations to us.

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