Editorial: Positive Signs

By Len Monheit
[email protected]
Comment on this Editorial
There has been a lot of criticism lately about the industry and its inability to get its act together to deal with the ephedra issue and other recent challenges that have led to confusion, declining sales and missed business opportunities. And while we can certainly expect these challenges to keep coming, there are signs that the industry is developing a coping and management strategy that will be a significant asset in the tough times to come. Companies within the industry have recognized that it is both necessary and possible to provide educational resources across the entire value chain and to consumers in order to enhance credibility and build business, and it appears as though the prospect of GRAS status is being embraced increasingly by organizations seeking new markets..

Earlier this week, an industry coalition sent out an advisory cautioning against the promotion and use of Dietary Supplements as a remedy for SARS. This coalition included several trade associations and was significant for two distinct reasons. Firstly, this measure was a proactive step from a group whose resources have typically been occupied by reactive steps. Secondly, the collaborative approach among the five groups responsible for this cautionary statement (AHPA, CHPA, CRN, NNFA and UNPA) was exactly the type of concerted and consolidated effort the industry needs on many fronts. By making a united statement, a first step has been provided in establishing an industry collective and isolating those companies and organizations that do not belong to or participate in one of the trade associations. In an industry with few, if any barriers to entry, this collective stance by the associations suggests that they are prepared to help establish such barriers.

On the educational front, the re-launch of the PUFA newsletter a few weeks ago to focus on the benefits and science associated with long chain, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and this week’s Healthnotes deal with drugstore.com are examples of commitments to value chain and consumer education. I both hope and anticipate that we will see more of these efforts in the future, and that baseline understanding and knowledge of supplements, as well as nutrition and nutraceuticals will continue to grow. This, combined with less tolerance on the part of the industry community for those outliers who do not support their products with their own science, and who do not commit to education, quality and compliance with all regulatory programs (FDA, FTC, NHPD etc.) bodes well for the future.

Finally, ingredient suppliers in increasing numbers, are beginning to recognize the opportunities provided to them by GRAS affirmation and status. This week, Roche’s ROPUFA® ‘75’ EE has attained GRAS status for many food applications, and at the upcoming Supplyside, the details of Natural Health Science's Pycnogenol® GRAS affirmation process will be presented.

Although these issues may seem unrelated, they are all signs of hope and maturity- hope because the opportunities are out there and are being pursued, and maturity to accept and begin dealing with the larger issues facing the industry, issues probably more significant than next quarter’s revenue growth.

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