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What is the purpose of your association?
The Natural Products Association (NPA), as we state in our mission, is about healthy people having access to healthy products. NPA has been advocating on the industry’s behalf for over 78 years, and when you look back at the critical battles and the timeline of the natural products industry, whether the challenge was legislative, regulatory, or judicial, NPA has kept the industry in business and thriving through all of those challenges.
Who does your membership consist of? What are the qualifications for membership?
Approximately 800 supply/manufacturing members and 1200 retail members of natural products. We have a code of ethics that members must abide by: http://www.npainfo.org/NPA/AboutNPA/CodeofEthics.aspx
What services or benefits do you provide your members?
Advocacy is the greatest benefit – the ability to influence public opinion and/or policy; for 78 years this organization has played—and will continue to play—an important part in the development of political and social systems (i.e., providing consumers greater access to natural products). As with many associations we also provide: education/professional development; information, research, and statistics; standards, codes of ethics, certification; and fora (face to face or virtual) to discuss common problems and solutions through boards, committees, and work groups.
How is your organization different than others representing the natural products industry?
First, we are simply the best organization out there at advocacy. Given our backbone is the independent retailers and always will be, we are known to have a great experience in the grassroots side of the business, but NPA also has had terrific “grasstops” relationships with members of Congress and we have been very active in the campaign aspect of politics. For example, did you know that NPA was the first industry trade to have a PAC/multi-candidate PAC? Additionally, when you look at expenditures on advocacy, NPA has always led the way there and then taken it a step further by putting added boots on the ground, so we founded a coalition to assist with such efforts. That coalition was pivotal in the passing of Adverse Event Reporting (AER) legislation, the defeat of S. 3002 in 2010, and a number of other efforts.
Now you take that history, with the regulatory knowledge the association has by way of former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) personnel on staff, and our counsel, such as Scott Bass, and I don’t see another organization on the planet with that kind of firepower on regulatory matters, domestic or international. Lastly, and while there are other areas of excellence, NPA has had terrific exposure in commercial media, the type that we don’t typically see from other associations, pulling attention to our industry’s most important issues and better educating consumers.
What does your organization hope to accomplish in the upcoming months?
In addition to expanding our lead on the political and regulatory fronts, we’ll make a few more key hires, continue to grow our membership, continue to make an impact on defining natural, resolve GMO legislation at the federal level and re-establish some sort of presence in the tradeshow/event side of the business. We’re already committed to be the first one’s out with education on the New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) Guidance re-draft, so if the agency does produce that document in 2014, as that was one of its goals, our webinar will be another accomplishment.
In your opinion, what's your role in the natural products industry?
Leadership. We have terrific volunteer leadership and a terrific staff. The culture we’re building at NPA is consistent with its traditions, and is one that knows which battles to pick and how to win them. Our role is to, as we have always done, continue supporting the industry through our advocacy, regulatory, communications, and other efforts.