Natural Products Insider: Then and now – Organic standards

Jon Benninger

October 12, 2022

3 Min Read
USDA organic
Editorial credit: Tada Images /

This series looks back at the stories we were covering in Natural Products Insider 25, 20, 15, 10 and 5 years ago this month. In addition to providing some interesting history, I explore why these stories are still relevant today.

Then (October 2002): On Oct. 21, 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) fully implemented the National Organic Program (NOP), 12 years after the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) was passed. The NOP’s goal was to establish organic standards and oversee mandatory certification of organic production. While we witnessed a flood of organic food and beverage products into the marketplace, the dietary supplement industry was slower to introduce organic products. There were some impressive early adopters, including companies that had been following organic practices since long before the OFPA, such as Gaia Herbs, Herb Pharm and New Chapter.

There were some reasons for slow adoption by the supplement sector overall. The NOP itself was not clear about how the rules applied to supplements. Many supplement ingredients or processing aids were not available as organic. And perhaps most importantly, the supplement industry was engulfed in its own battles with FDA and other anti-supplement adversaries over the still unimplemented Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Related:Natural Products Insider: Then and now

The now familiar “USDA Organic” seal was very new 20 years ago. In fact, organic products were still a small niche that had not been fully embraced by mainstream brands and consumer products companies. Most organic food products were found in the natural and specialty channel, which was small compared to today. Critics of organic products suggested the products were too expensive, offered no benefit and were perhaps less safe than conventional products.

Now: My, how things have changed. Today, you can find organic products everywhere and from nearly every consumer products company. Many of the original, pioneering organic products companies have been acquired by large, legacy companies such as Campbell Soup, General Mills, Nestle, Pepsi and others. In some categories, such as baby foods, organic is becoming table stakes just to be in the category.

As organic products have become mainstream and mainstay, the next evolution of “clean label” is rising fast: regenerative. Companies are going beyond the “do no harm” approach of basic organic certification and looking to repair and improve the environment with regenerative agriculture. Just as it was with organics 20 years ago, there are critics and skeptics of regenerative practices. I expect that over time these critics will be forced to evolve. As was the case 20 years ago, supplement companies are still trailing their food and beverage cousins in adopting both organic and regenerative practices.

The fact remains many ingredient producers, contract manufacturers and consumer brands are bringing organic products to the market, and consumers are responding. All companies in the supplement space would be wise to look ahead and see how consumers—and particularly the younger Gen Z and Millennial consumers—will demand this transition. They have grown up in a world where organic is normal and common. As the conversations about sustainability, transparency, resilient supply chains, fair trade, global impact, social good and other concerns amplify and manifest, brands should be sure they do not get left behind. Finally, still significant parts of DSHEA have not been fully implemented or enforced by FDA, now 28 years after it became law. But that’s another story for another day.

About the Author(s)

Jon Benninger


Jon Benninger is vice president and market leader at Informa Markets. He focuses on the strategic direction and growth of the SupplySide portfolio, which includes SupplySide West, SupplySide East, Natural Products Insider and Food & Beverage Insider. He coordinates with leaders of the other Informa health and nutrition events and brands, including Natural Products Expo West, Vitafoods, Food ingredients, Nutrition Capital Network, Nutrition Business Journal and MarketReady Insights.

Benninger joined the company in 1995 as the founding editor of the company’s first trade magazine for the nutrition industry. In his free time, Jon loves to cook for family and friends; if you are ever in Phoenix and want to enjoy a meal, all you must do is choose a country, region, or city, and Jon will cook it for you.

Jon Benninger

VP & Market Leader – SupplySide


  • Helped launch the SupplySide business in 1995.

  • Active in industry associations and initiatives and leads strategic partnerships for SupplySide.

  • Cares deeply about supply chain, quality, and innovation issues that drive industry growth and success.


  • ABC Mark Blumenthal Community Builder Award, 2018

  • Vitamin Angels Grateful Acknowledgement for Supporting Global Children’s Health, 2018

  • AHPA Visionary Award, 2014

  • NPA Industry Champion Award, 2014

  • CRN Crystal Apple Award for Industry Leadership, 2010

Current Volunteer Positions

  • Board Chair and Board Trustee, Sonoran University of Health Sciences (formerly Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine)

  • Founder and Board Representative, Nutrition Advisory Council, Sonoran University of Health Sciences

  • Director’s Circle, American Botanical Council (ABC)

  • Communications Committee, American Herbal Products Association (AHPA)

  • Communications & Media Outreach Committee, Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)

  • Company Council, International Association of Dietary Supplement Associations (IADSA)

  • Mentor, Women In Nutraceuticals

Past Volunteer Positions

  • President, Dietary Supplement Education Alliance, 2006 – 2008

  • Board of Directors, Dietary Supplement Education Alliance, 2001 – 2006

  • Board of Directors, Citizens for Health, 1999 – 2001

Speaker Credentials

  • "Trends in the US Market for Healthy and Functional Foods and Ingredients, Hi-Japan, Tokyo, 2019

  • “Trends Overview for Japanese Delegation to Natural Products Expo West” Anaheim, CA, 2019

  • “China: Impossible to Ignore” UNPA Member Retreat, Charleston SC, 2019

  • “Trends Overview for Japanese Delegation to Natural Products Expo West” Anaheim, CA, 2018

  • “Nutrition Industry Overview” US-China Business Exchange Dinner, Anaheim CA, 2018

  • “Industry Outlook: Market & Key Factors” National Enzyme Annual Meeting, Branson, MO, 2017

  • “State of the Human Dietary Supplement Industry” NASC Annual Conference, Austin, TX, 2016

  • “Consumer Concerns of Safety & Efficacy in Supplements” UNPA Member Retreat, Hawaii, 2016

  • “Nutrition, Health and Wellness Trends” Cactus IFT Meeting, Phoenix AZ, 2013

  • “Key Industry Events & Media in the US Market” World Ayurveda Congress, Bangalore, India, 2010

  • “Trends in the Dietary Supplement Industry” Pacific Technology Exchange, Los Angeles, 2010

  • “Succeeding in the US Market for Healthy Products” 4th Nutraceutical Summit, Mumbai, India, 2008

  • “Selling to the US Health Food Industry” Keynote Address, ANIPRON, Mexico City, 2007

  • 1997 – present: moderator/host at SupplySide events

  • 1997 – present: Frequent host/moderator of industry conference sessions, panel discussions & town halls

Resides in

  • Phoenix, AZ


  • Arizona State University, B.A Journalism, 1991


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