This was the resounding message that came out of an industry update presented at the recent SupplySide East trade show by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the Natural Products Association (NPA), and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA).
“As an industry we must be proactive as well as reactive, because if we’re always reactive then we’re always playing someone else’s game,” said CRN’s Judy Blatman.
This strategy – spearheaded by the trade groups but in need of support from the industry at large – can be applicable across the board.
Areas where the industry can take an active role include: The direction of proposed legislation or expected legislation; consumer awareness; media education; self-regulation; and quality control.
One example of legislation that could have a major impact on the dietary supplement business is the nation’s new food safety regulations.
“We need to ask ourselves if there is something we can do proactively so when this legislation comes down we’ve put into place the kinds of things we think would work for the industry rather than sit back and wait to be told what to do,” said Judy
“It’s not a matter of if this is going to happen, it’s a matter of when, and how we can stay ahead of the curve.”
David Seckman added that another area where the industry needs to act is to make sure supplement products are included in this year’s debate on healthcare reform. Products such as calcium, vitamin D, folic acid and omega-3s are not only beneficial for the health of Americans but would also generate cost savings, and this message needs to be clearly delivered to Congress, he said.
Media and consumer education
Industry also needs to continue and enhance efforts to ensure accurate information on supplements is reaching the American consumer. These efforts must start with the education of the nation’s media, which often conveys an uninformed and damaging message.
“As an industry we cannot just sit back and let the media define who we are,” said Blatman.
CRN’s Life…Supplemented initiative aims to raise awareness on the benefits of supplements as part of a healthy diet, and to generate media coverage that “would reflect the industry accurately,” she said.
To date, the campaign has generated around 2,300 stories in broadcast, online and print outlets.
Another initiative that the supplements industry has launched is the Standardized Information on Dietary Ingredients (SIDI) Protocol, which is a key tool for self-regulation.
Set up by CRN, NPA, AHPA and CHPA, the initiative is designed to:
- Assist with dietary supplement GMP compliance by serving as a tool for ingredient qualification
- Integrate information on raw dietary ingredient sourcing into a voluntary, standardized system – reducing or eliminating the need for questionnaires
- Improve the audit process byproviding information in a standardized format for auditors to review in advance
- Educate smaller, less experienced firms on regulations, requirements, and industry best practices