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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
The conference, called The Big Natural, is taking place on June 7–9 at The Linq hotel in Las Vegas.
The Natural Products Association (NPA; Washington, DC) has not hosted a live event since its NPA MarketPlace Trade Show, produced in partnership with media company New Hope, shuttered back in 2013. Now, the association is coming out swinging with a new event, this time a conference, called The Big Natural, taking place on June 7–9 at The Linq hotel in Las Vegas and hosted independently by NPA.
According to NPA’s executive director and CEO, Daniel Fabricant, PhD, The Big Natural stands out from other industry events for a couple of reasons.
For one, he told Nutritional Outlook, the event proceeds will be used to fund NPA’s advocacy and education efforts in Washington, DC, and beyond, to benefit its membership, the natural products industry.
“This is no swipe on media companies, but a lot of the trade shows in the industry are put on by big media companies, and pretty much every one of our dollars is spent fighting for the industry,” he says. “We spend the most on advocacy across all the trade associations and any group in the industry, and so I think it’s important to highlight that, for folks to realize that, hey, if you’re going to come, there’s a great program, but also the benefit of knowing that it’s going to benefit the industry back here in Washington, DC, on Capitol Hill, [and that] it’s going to benefit getting new ideas into the industry through education.”
Scheduled speakers include Steven Tave, director of FDA’s Office of Dietary Supplements, as well as Richard Cleland, assistant director of the Division of Advertising Practices, FTC, and Kathleen Dunnigan, senior staff attorney, National Advertising Division of The Better Business Bureau.'
But focus will also go beyond regulatory issues, Fabricant says.
“We’re also going to talk about the changes to the business world, the fact that things are going to be very different in the near future,” he says. “I saw a statistic this week that Credit Suisse predicts that in five years, 25% of all shopping malls will close. Well, that’s clearly a change in distribution, so we’ll really be touching on some of those things.” As such, he says, speakers will also include representatives from business, including those from The Wharton School, and those who will focus on the topic of retail, “looking out as to what’s going to happen, what’s the next stage of retail, how do you work on an electronic business, etc.” Fabricant says.
Other topics will include branding as well as changes that suppliers face.
Finally, according to the event’s website, attendees will gain industry perspective from a broad swath of industry, including from such firms as Whole Foods Market, Post Nutrition, The Kellogg Co., Now Foods, GNC, Nature’s Way, The Honest Co., and more.
If The Big Natural goes well, Fabricant says NPA hopes to turn it into an annual event. “That’s the plan. We had a trade show for a long time, and while there may be saturation of the trade show market, in terms of having an annual event for our members to interface, both old and new, and maybe bring some new people into the tent, I think it’s important for us to really be able to have those discussions face to face, whether it’s in Washington, DC, or in Las Vegas.”
“The biggest thing, when I came back [to helm NPA again] three years ago, was I said, ‘NPA needs an event again,’” Fabricant adds. “NPA, as you know, is the oldest and largest trade association. We touch a lot of people in the industry, and we want to have a forum, have an event where we can do that and help them make stronger businesses, help them be stronger here on Capitol Hill, stronger with the FDA, etc. And so, we want to get back to that business.”
The event is open to both NPA members and non-NPA members. Fabricant says he expects between 170-200 attendees.