In The Wake of Expo West – Industry Year Officially Begins

By Len Monheit

Now, it’s down to business and steady operations – or so one would hope. In the wake of Expo West (and the resultant show hangover) companies ideally settle down to develop the new leads and relationships triggered by the event, and to execute on the strategy developed at meetings and interactions associated with the show. For those that attended educational and other presentations, new ideas and perspectives might be percolating, to be executed on in short, mid or long term timeframes.

A few weeks ago, I commented on the evolution of third generation omega-3 supply opportunities as this category continues to pick up momentum for food and supplement applications. Now that the category has been solidified and grown, differentiation becomes the ongoing challenge.

With adverse event legislation now in the books, industry is carefully watching the US political/legislative environment. Senate Bill S.762 introduced by Senators Grassli, McCain and Durbin, proposes to list DHEA as a controlled substance, but pundits so far believe that this bill might not successfully move forward or become a real hot issue. On the positive side, two bills currently under consideration, The Food Stamp Vitamin and Mineral Improvement Act (S. 770) and the Dietary Supplement and Healthy Meal Replacement Tax Parity Act (H.R. 1107), have potentially large upsides for industry.

Nevertheless, this environment on Capitol Hill could take a serious turn for the negative, especially with so many of industry’s detractors in new positions of influence, so the industry trade associations and their lobbyists are watching carefully.

Last month, Coca Cola announced that it would voluntarily identify caffeine on product labels, recognizing a potential hot issue and taking a proactive step. As presented by Loren Israelsen at Nutracon, the issue of caffeine content is one that is on the radar for several groups critically watching the dietary supplements industry, and the question was even asked of me this past week in a radio interview.

The ‘Superfruits’ category continues to grow in popularity, leveraging the initial hype surrounding pomegranate products. One sign of this was Anheuser Busch introducing a goji flavor product several weeks ago, and predictably, goji and other secondary superfruits were hot items and flavors at Expo West. (note: The term ‘secondary’ is assigned based on familiarity rather than as a comment on nutritional value).

Environmental responsibility and sustainability have taken on a whole new role in market presence and mission. Companies’ environmental imperative is almost as important as a company’s actual product offering. One example of this was the earth Bottle, a ‘functional bottle’ I heard about but did not see (plant based and biodegradable) offered through a partnership between Gaia Herbs and Clemson called Earth Renewable Technologies. This past week’s news headlines and the recent NMI LOHAS index, further indicate the focus this subject is receiving.

With FDA seeking input and guidance on functional food regulation as well as the regulation of Complementary and Alternative Medicine products (, it is clear that we must be ever vigilant, responsible and where possible, proactive in ensuring a stable marketplace for supplements, as well as functional foods and beverages. In a related development north of the border, apparently, Health Canada’s Natural Health Product Directorate has apparently determined to take the lead with assessment of ‘food-looking’ natural health ingredient based product applications in Canada. Sources indicate that these products are beginning to move through the queue and backlog at NHPD. We’ll have to keep our eyes on that one.

Other observations –

Category to watch – probiotics – supplement and food/beverage applications

More products and formats continue to be introduced and the concept of digestive health management and probiotics to support general health seems to be gaining acceptability. Recent association between oral health and cardiovascular health markers might give rise to a new wave of products and potential.

I mentioned a few weeks ago in this column the Expo events hosted by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the American botanical Council (ABC). The former held its twenty-fifth anniversary, and other special events while the latter celebrated an ‘Herbal Legacy’ ( , which included the creation of an ABC Endowment Fund a Scholarship fund and a Green Development and Beautification Fund. Industry support for all three is being solicited.

Other: This is your chance to weigh in and comment on what’s new and happening. Send your submissions, quotes and links to [email protected], or comment on this article and we’ll include your submissions.

Submissions from our audience include the following notes and observations:

Wallaby Yogurt Jumps On Taste Trend With 5 New Exotic Flavors

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