Dispatches from SupplySide West 2013

UNPA's new organizational structure aims to cultivate new Congressional leadership

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Natural products Dietary supplements industry Dietary supplement Orrin hatch

The United Natural Products Alliance is expanding in a focused state-by-state approach as a way to most effectively cultivate the next generation of legislative advocates who can take over in Washington, said UNPA president Loren Israelsen.

Isrealsen said the issue of who will pick up the torch for the dietary supplements industry when longtime champions Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) retire has been percolating for years.  UNPA’s new state chapter strategy will address this from a grassroots orientation by identifying eight states that have the right combination of industry activity and Senators who sit on the right committees.

“The reason for this is that 20 years ago we began as a state-based organization with eight Utah companies.  Now it’s time readapt and rebuild our strength,”​ Israelsen said.

The organization’s new structure will be based on a number of state chapters, each with its own chairperson (or brace thereof).  The goal is to tightly link the state chapters and the local businesses they represent with each state’s congressional representation and through those relationships affect politics on the national level.

Several criteria were used to decide which states to start with, Israelsen said.  Money talks, so the bigger the percentage of a state’s overall economy is made of up companies in the natural products and dietary supplements business, the higher that state moved in the initial planning phase of the new organizational structure. This meant that none of the top five states in terms of state domestic product (California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas) was considered for the first phase, even though there are sizable dietary supplement and natural products sectors in those states.

Bigger tent

Israelsen said that along with expanding along state lines, UNPA, traditionally a supplement-focused organization, is expanding the tent, too.

“We have looked at the map and have identified states that have a significant natural products industry.  And this is bigger that just dietary supplements.  It includes organic agriculture, health professionals.  It could include major retailers and obviously major manufacturers of supplements, personal care products, cosmetics or pet products,”​ Israelsen said.

The new organization will have chapters in Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin.

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