Editorial: Scattered thoughts...

By Len Monheit, NPIcenter

Many of you who know me can’t imagine me speechless and disengaged from my all too ready soapbox – but it happens from time to time. Today, while I’m not exactly speechless, there are a bunch of really disparate items floating through my brain, They don’t justify an editorial – or do they?

Humor me for a second and let’s see if we can’t spark a few fires…

When Senator Hatch jokingly remarked that he might not see GMP’s ‘in his lifetime’ at the Natural Products Association show, yes, there was laughter….but mixed with sage nods from the audience. Some in our industry believe that the appearance of GMPs (this year) will automatically cause industry to regain credibility it has lost in recent years. Others believe that only then will the real work begin. If GMPs have been stuck at OMB for the last many months, what kind of regulation are we really looking at, and if there is no enforcement budget, does it really matter?

The Natural Products Association show provided evidence that the trade show hosts responsibility includes making sure that all exhibitors comply with all laws and regulations, and this is quite important obviously as frequently, not only Senators and Congressional representatives, but FTC and FDA officials walk our show floors as well. It’s good to see Natural Products Association taking this responsibility seriously as I know also that New Hope does at the Natural Products Expos. To not do so would be terribly hypocritical. It’s unfortunate though that not only do some companies not know the laws, they have the audacity to argue with the very people trying to keep them on the right side of the law on the show floor.

With the announcement by Natural Products Association that they were forming a Beijing-based branch office, that association’s commitment to the Chinese market was made clear. With legal restrictions preventing Chinese businesses from becoming part of this organization, there is still a gap when one considers a truly global trading and selling environment. At the same time, several other groups (organizations, networks and companies) are beginning to reap the benefits of several years of investing in Asian relations and relationships. It will be interesting to see the overall dynamic evolve and the impact is has. One thing is critical though, and that is the role of IADSA in its attempts to ensure continued opportunities and supportive regulations in markets around the world.

Switching gears – the proliferation of event opportunities continues. With each comes opportunity… and opportunity cost. This week, it was CRN’s ‘The workshop’ and NBJ’s Newport Summit for industry executives. And it’s actually quite ironic but not surprising that as a general rule (with committees etc.) ‘the more involved you get, the more involved you need to get’. Part of this is the vortex effect of being in a moving, complex industry. Part of this is the fact that, like many operations, a limited pool of volunteers ends up contributing disproportionably. A further contributor to this effect is the fact that we thrive on human contact and information exchange, and once we get a taste of the interaction, speculation and debate, it quickly becomes addictive. As I’ve said before in this column, if you choose not to get involved as the decisions get made, then you lose your stake in the outcomes, as well as your ability to criticize those outcomes.

With a revamped, dynamic advisory board, Vitamin Angel Alliance is gearing up with ambitious plans to increase industry awareness and its ability to provide health and nutrition solutions to those in need around the world. As an industry we often take criticism, face doubts, and are perceived as short term thinkers and opportunists. Participating in and supporting programs such as those offered by Vitamin Angel Alliance not only provides the chance to silence many critics, it also provides the opportunity to reach some of the satisfaction and fulfillment many in business had as primary goals when they first started out.

If it hadn’t struck me until now, the Natural Products Association show was the catalyst. With companies such as Pure Fruit Technologies and XanGo offering great tasting fruit-based products, with fruits such as mangosteen, goji, pomegranate and blueberry offering such excellent inherent health benefits as well as sizzle, what we’ve experienced so far in ‘fruit fever’ is only the beginning. Seized from the exotic, infused with health appeal, sprayed with color and twirling on taste buds – there’s a whole lot of opportunity yet to be tapped in fruit-based products in many forms.

So there you have it – some of the things tracking through my brain. Maybe now that I’ve downloaded some of these thoughts, I can move on...

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