Stephen Daniells, Senior Editor, selected four articles:
“The non-GMO movement is gathering pace in the natural products industry, and the challenges for dietary supplements are significant and unique,” says Stephen. “While writing this piece I spoke to some of the leading lights in the non-GMO field, such as Courtney Pineau from the Non-GMO Project and Sandy Kepler of FoodChain Global Advisors, and interviewed thought leaders in the dietary supplement industry, from Loren Israelsen at UNPA to Michael Lelah at NOW Foods and Robert Craven at Mega Food/Food State.
“The article ended up being much longer than I had planned, but I think it offers the industry a comprehensive and important overview of the challenges and opportunities. The labeling initiatives of 2013 may have been unsuccessful, but you’d have to be naïve to think that more will not be forthcoming in 2014.”
Stephen says: “Vitamin Angels are the embodiment of all that is good in this industry. The organization is a shining star for nutrition and dietary supplements. I had the great pleasure to sit down with Howard Schiffer in our New York Offices, and talk to him about his goals, his hopes, and his frustrations. Howard’s passion, compassion, and honesty are wonderfully refreshing and inspiring.
“It was great for me to work on an article about Howard and Vitamin Angels, an article that really puts nutrition and the industry into context as a force for good in this world.”
“This is another article focused on one person,” explains Stephen. “Joseph Simcox is a fascinating individual driven by a real passion for plants and an unbending ethical spine. I was intrigued by his views on the potential of phytonutrients, his unique insights into ingredients to watch, and, with insights from his collaborator Irina Stoenescu, the commercial implication of this for the nutraceutical industry.
“Our interview lasted over an hour, and I think he could have kept talking for another few if I didn’t have another call lined up. Joseph is a free spirit and a true believer in the power of plants to boost our health and help communities.”
“There’s a quote by the Greek philosopher Cicero that I’ve always liked: ‘Not to know what happened before you were born is to be forever a child’, and I really enjoy personal stories and historical perspectives,” says Stephen.
“I’ve been writing about the dietary supplements industry for over eight years, and much of that is about keeping up with the day-to-day and trying to spot what’s on the horizon, so going back 40 years was an eye opener. Speaking with Annette Dickinson and Steve Mister and hearing the stories of those early days; the evolution, and how the market has grown and flourished has given me a much deeper appreciation of the industry, and a better understanding of CRN.
“With 2014 being the 20th anniversary of DSHEA, I’m looking forward to more insights and personal stories from those exciting and hugely important times.”
Hank Schultz, Senior Correspondent, selected three articles:
“I'll admit I had become somewhat jaundiced about the quoting of ORAC values in recent years,” says Hank. “As numbers rose from hundreds into the thousands or even tens of thousands, one was left to wonder, is this just marketing hype? And if these values were true, and they actually had that sort of activity in the body, would that be a good thing? It seems to me reactive oxygen species exist in the body for a reason, no?
“So ORAC values have taken beating in terms of credibility, as the word has gotten out that these numbers might mean something in comparing the raw potential of one ingredient against another, but have little demonstrated import for human health. But polyphenols can still be health powerhouses, and marketers need to find ways to continue to get that message across. Writing this story helped remind me that the health benefits of polyphenols are durable and will survive the spin meisters' attempts to differentiate their ingredients.”
Hank says: “I have been dismayed as any American in the flight of jobs overseas during my lifetime. So it was good to find a story of a trend that might push in the opposite direction. Global supply chains are becoming ever more complex, making the quality control task ever harder. As the differential between labor and capital costs in North American and overseas markets continues to narrow, it's starting to make sense to think about growing ingredients closer to home.
“And increased FDA scrutiny on botanical ingredient identity testing puts added pressure on the certainty and security of overseas supply. This may result in a long term shift toward domestic supply or provide advantages for larger, vertically integrated firms that can tightly control the cultivation and processing of their overseas sources of botanical ingredients.”
Hank explains: “Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, is a member of the Dietary Supplement Caucus and is one of the members of Congress who can be called upon to help provide leadership for the industry when Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA, steps down this year and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT likely retires at the end of his current term in 2018.
“Sen. Heinrich was bright, engaging and generous with his time and his involvement bodes well for the future for committed and intelligent representation on Capitol Hill for the dietary supplement industry.”
Elaine Watson, Editor, selected two articles:
Elaine says: “This is a classic case of how a press release with some choice - but out-of-context - quotes, can turn a fairly innocuous story about a scientific study into a full-blown health scare that feeds into a narrative currently 'trending' in the media: 'Energy drinks are dangerous and something must be done about them...'
“But as the principal investigator behind the research in question explains, he and his colleagues did not in fact state that a short-term increase in heart contraction rate after consuming certain energy drinks was in itself a health concern, merely that it warrants further investigation. “
“While canola protein ticks all the right boxes - non-allergenic, sustainable, good amino acid profile, great functionality - it has not taken off in the way that other plant-based proteins have – yet,” says Elaine.
“With canola protein pioneer BioExx recently filing for bankruptcy protection, will someone else grasp "the biggest opportunity in the global protein market in 50 years"? Fellow plant-protein expert Burcon is currently concentrating on pea protein, but maybe a couple of years down the line it will find a partner willing to invest in industrial scale production to finally take canola protein to the mass market?”
Maggie Hennessy, Senior Correspondent, selected one article (Maggie joined the team in September 2013):
Maggie says: “As a consumer living in a developed country, I realized I've come to take for granted the wide access we have to fortified foods--be they cereal grains, salt or milk. In taking on this topic, I went in assuming that mass fortification was fairly widespread and a logical solution to getting certain nutrients into the food supply. But a few hours of research (and about a hundred follow-up calls and emails to the poor folks at the Flour Fortification Initiative), I realized I was wrong on both counts. For one, industry and government aren't always incentivized to spend resources on mass fortification; not only that, but sometimes targeted efforts are more effective at getting nutrients to the populations needing them the most (and at the right stage of their physical and mental development). Nice to gain a little perspective via a topic I clearly hadn't given much thought to before.”