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Considerations Before Joining a Supplement Trade Association

Is your company considering whether to join a trade association in the dietary supplement industry? Experts from BrandHive, The Shelton Group and Alkemist Labs advise companies to do their homework before jumping into an organization.

Is your company considering whether to join a trade association in the dietary supplement industry? Experts from BrandHive, The Shelton Group and Alkemist Labs advise companies to do their homework before jumping into an organization.

Jeff Hilton, partner and co-founder with BrandHive, an advertising and public relations agency specializing in branding for supplements, recommends a company examine the membership of a trade group to get a sense of the opportunities for partnerships and networking.

Hilton said it’s also important to understand what makes a trade organization tick. “What’s important to them? What [are they] passionate about? You really need to be passionate about what they represent," he said.

Finally, Hilton recommends chatting with members to understand the organization’s benefits and challenges members may have faced within the group. “It’s wise to talk to other members you know and get hopefully their candid feedback," Hilton said.

Suzanne Shelton of the public relations and marketing firm The Shelton Group and Alkemist Labs CEO Elan Sudberg highlighted a few distinguishing attributes of several well-known trade organizations in the supplement space:

American Herbal Products Association (AHPA)

“If there is an issue with a botanical product, AHPA is usually a first responder and communicates with global regulators on behalf of its members," Sudberg said.

He added AHPA’s numerous committees cover any issue facing the industry.

“There is nobody that’s as knowledgeable about the specifics of the herbal industry as AHPA," Shelton declared. “Their advocacy and protection is crucial for anybody selling herbs that wants to stay in business."

United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA)

With roots in Utah where eight supplement companies formed an alliance in 1991 to challenge FDA’s enforcement actions, “UNPA continues to be a key player working with FDA to reach full and fair implementation of DSHEA and many other issues of importance to consumers and producers of natural health products," Sudberg said.

Shelton credited the organization with establishing industry best practices and recognized UNPA president Loren Israelsen’s knack for analyzing challenges.  

Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)

CRN represents dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers. Its members include some of the largest companies in the industry that make national and store brands that are marketed by drug stores, discount chains and major supermarkets, Sudberg said.

Shelton is particularly impressed with CRN’s “expertise in communications." She cited CRN’s skills in keeping its members up to date on developments, explaining nuances to industry and interacting with the mainstream press.

Natural Products Association (NPA) 

NPA, founded in 1936, represents more than 1,900 members that cover more than 10,000 retail, manufacturing, wholesale and distribution locations of natural products, Sudberg said. Shelton recognized NPA’s lobbying work and regulatory expertise. A former FDA supplement director, Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., now runs the organization.

“They are recognized for their strong lobbying presence in Washington, D.C., where they serve as an industry watchdog on regulatory and legislative issues," Sudberg said.

Read more about how trade organizations recently defended the industry in Josh Long’s latest article.

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