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The Meaning of Natural: Part II

The Meaning of Natural:Part II

Several months ago, this column addressed the issue of the word natural and what it means to both consumers and companies producing products that claim to be natural in some way, shape, or form. Natural means many things to many people, and the one thing most of us perhaps can agree upon is that the word does have significance for various consumers and producers. It is unfortunate that established associations, although well meaning in their mutual intent and demonstrating competence in fulfilling a variety of important functions, have been able to do little to tackle this pervasive issue.

Well, the issue has finally “come to a head” in many forms. For me, it is as I am confronted repeatedly on the conference circuit by members of very large and influential organizations, such as when I recently addressed the Consumer Specialty Products Association’s annual meeting, on what really defines this elusive and sometimes stubborn natural products industry. In some cases, I have been told that natural products are a figment of my imagination. I obviously find this difficult to accept and my answer has always been, “The consumer believes that natural products exist and are clamoring for more of them, and therefore it is up to us as responsible marketers to provide products that address this need.”

It is for this reason that I have resolved to found and co-direct the International Association of Natural Product Producers (IANPP) in conjunction with Susan Apito, president of the Botanical Elements Trade Association. The primary purpose of this not-for-profit organization is to reach common ground with charter members to define the word “natural” across all product categories, establish criteria, develop labeling guidelines, and eventually enact a certification process so that we can alleviate much of the confusion throughout the value chain. The ultimate goal is to have all players as members and develop a highly informative website to educate the buying public as well as the members of the business community on the true nature of “natural”.

IANPP will be accepting a limited number of charter members for the next couple of weeks. Involvement from industry leaders is a must so that we can operate efficiently and be as proactive as possible Please feel free to visit for information and to view what we have already compiled.

Darrin C. Duber-Smith, MS, MBA, is president of Green Marketing, a Colorado-based strategic planning firm offering marketing planning, marketing plan implementation, and other consulting services to natural products companies in all stages of growth. He has 15 years of specialized expertise in the natural products industry and is also a marketing professor at the Metropolitan State College School of Business in Denver, CO. He can be reached at

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