Supplement Perspectives

Know Your Trade Association: Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s

<p>Here&rsquo;s the latest installment of this month&rsquo;s series. Get informed and get involved! </p>

Editor's note: Contributors were asked to either complete a questionnaire or use it as the basis for a post. These are the words of the contributor, who were selected by the association. Any edits made were done for space considerations. Want to be included? Contact petecroatto@yahoo.com.

What is the purpose of your association?

We work to promote consumption of EPA and DHA to sufficient levels and to ensure consumers are getting products they can trust. We work on issues in multiple industries because EPA and DHA are found in a variety of products, in addition to the traditional natural product markets. Our work ranges from trying to establish recommended intakes and health claims around the world to promoting sustainable environmental practices to administering a randomized testing program on consumer products.

Who does your membership consist of? What are the qualifications for membership?

We have nearly 200 members from every section of the value chain for EPA and DHA, including fishing companies and food, pharma, and supplement brands. Our members also include next-generation R&D-phase omega-3 companies working to produce EPA and DHA from novel plant sources. The one core thing that unifies our members is their commitment to delivering high quality products to consumers.

When companies join GOED, they must sign an affidavit agreeing to adhere to the GOED Voluntary Monograph and our code of ethics. The Monograph component is unique because our quality standard encompasses the strictest regulations in the world all pulled together into a single standard. In addition, our members know they are subject to randomized testing and the potential embarrassment of failing a test and being kicked out of GOED. We have actually had companies delay their entry into GOED to ensure they have resolved any issues in their supply chains to make sure they were compliant, so we believe this requirement of membership ultimately helps consumers. In addition, any individual or company can file an ethics complaint with us and trigger an investigation of one of our members, whether the complainant is another GOED member or not.

What services or benefits do you provide your members?

Our primary mission is to increase consumption and ensure the products are high quality, so membership benefits are secondary to our purpose. For the most part, our members agree that if we are successful in our mission, then everyone wins.

How is your organization different than others representing the natural products industry? 

We are primarily different because we have a very narrow focus on the EPA and DHA category, but we also have a global mandate and work around the world. Our narrow focus by its own nature makes us a small organization, but our global mandate means we have a large number of projects. These competing factors mean we cannot participate in some traditional trade association activities like lobbying because there are too many countries in the world to do this effectively. We have also been forced every year to take on large initiatives ranging from reversing an effective ban on fish oil imports into Europe in 2007 to helping reverse the sales decline in the U.S. this year. Our members, rightfully, expect a lot from us.

What does your organization hope to accomplish in the upcoming months?

The most important initiative we are working on now is a large consumer education campaign to reverse the decline in the U.S. omega-3 market, but we are also trying to help the largest omega-3 fisheries get sustainability certifications and we’re opening an office in China, the fastest growing omega-3 consumer market in the world.

In your opinion, what's your role in the natural products industry?

Since we are extremely resource-constrained, we are forced to do things a little differently. For the broader natural products industry, we hope others can learn from our failures and successes. This could include helping other product-specific organizations get a foothold and not make the same mistakes we did, or hopefully showing how successful a properly-funded consumer education campaign can be effective.

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