CRN Third Quarter 2021 Achievements
Dear CRN Colleagues & Friends,
You could have a front row seat to observe events that will shape the industry…but as a CRN member are invited on stage, to write the script, and help shape that future yourself. Many trade associations are content to report on industry developments—at CRN, our members are proactively shaping the industry they want.
It’s hard to believe that 2021 is already three-quarters through. As we end the third quarter, I’m taking a little time to pause and consider what CRN has accomplished on behalf of our members just since June. It’s reasonable to ask: “What has the trade association done for its members lately?”
Here is a summary of our third quarter achievements:
As the call for mandatory product listing grows from various stakeholders, CRN has been intimately involved in developing this legislation. Working with our Congressional allies and their staffs, we have successfully dissuaded Congressional staff from including some provisions that would be burdensome to the industry and championed bill language that is specific to mandatory listing. While some voices are calling for a major rewrite to our foundational law with a version of “DSHEA 2.0,” CRN is working on narrowly crafted legislation that is less apt to become a magnet for burdensome provisions proposed by consumer activists. There is much speculation in the trade press about what may be in the bill, but our members have the opportunity to actually shape it.
The CRN Foundation has expanded its promotion of Vitamin D & Me!, a collection of new resources launched earlier this year for consumers addressing the increasing link between low Vitamin D levels and the severity of COVID-19. This consumer education program is designed to raise the profile of Vitamin D and the emerging evidence of the role Vitamin D plays in immune health. In August, we hit milestones with over 5 million impressions and 156,000 engagements with our website.
Since June, CRN conducted two Executive Engagements for the senior executives in our member companies. These intimate symposia impart the rich history of DSHEA, an overview of the supplement industry, and provide insights into the market, the relationship with news media, and our consumers. Participation is limited to 20 executives so there is time for conversation and questions. These immersive events give our new executives a crash course on the culture, regulation and potential future for dietary supplements.
CRN’s Board of Directors met in July, and among the policy decisions it debated, the Board reiterated CRN’s longstanding position in support of Proprietary Blends. This provision allows manufacturers to provide on the label of a dietary supplement the identity but not the quantity of the ingredients included in a proprietary blend. See 21 U.S.C. § 343(s)(2)(A)(ii). This allowance provides some degree of intellectual property protection for innovative firms. As some groups are calling for the end of proprietary blends, we developed a new “leave behind” defending this provision of DSHEA for our Congressional visits on the issue.
We continued our support for a legal pathway for CBD in dietary supplements by adding additional bipartisan cosponsors to H.R. 841 and we offered Comments on the Discussion Draft of legislation offered by Senators Schumer, Booker and Wyden that includes a provision on CBD.
CRN represented our members’ interests by endorsing H.R. 5214, bipartisan legislation by Rep. Curtis (R-UT) and Rep. Gottheimer (D-NJ) to include supplements in HSAs/FSAs. Our Statement of Support was widely covered by the trade press.
…and we worked to increase the annual FDA appropriations with funds directed specifically to the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP).
In September, CRN conducted its first Toxicology Workshop, exclusively for senior toxicologists in our member companies. The event allowed members to learn from one another as they shared their approaches to address dietary supplement safety, comparing the pathways for GRAS submissions and NDI notifications, and exchanging best practices for both pathways that will serve as a resource for CRN members.
Throughout the quarter, we continued promoting our retailer education campaign, Probiotics: What’s Inside is Alive, with the goal of developing better informed retail buyers among our members’ major retail customers to help them curate the assortment of quality probiotic supplements on their shelves. Check out some of the campaign materials on the site, including:
- Ten Questions to Ask Your Vendors
- The Retail Buyers Guide for Probiotics, and
- Our 2½ minute video highlighting Identity, Quantity & Viability
CRN has commissioned a new study (to be released in January) to review the safety of the bestselling weight-loss ingredients in the supplement market. This new research will be available for our state government lobbyists to use in 2022 when bills proposing age restrictions in California, Massachusetts and New York are likely to return. It’s the kind of proactive research that demonstrates our credibility and expertise with legislators and has gained CRN the well-earned reputation of “the science behind the supplements.”
When it comes to member education, we conducted two new webinars: “The New Frontier for Claims: The Disease-ification of Anxiety, Mood & Sleep,” and “Counterfeit dietary supplements: Reducing your risk and fighting back.” And CRN's Sports Nutrition Working Group held two members-only webinars on the safety and benefits of supplementation for Olympic athletes, and another discussing the safety and efficacy of leading lipotropic and thermogenic sports nutrition ingredients, including evidence for their use.
We’ve been planning for our signature event, Now, New, Next on October 19–22 at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel. This high-level business conference for the industry is a “must attend” event, known for provocative educational sessions and speakers, intimate networking and collegiality, and a fun atmosphere that welcomes first-time attendees.
CRN’s annual consumer survey was in the field at the end of August. Our survey of consumer behaviors, attitudes and confidence in dietary supplements is widely cited throughout the year as an authoritative resource for understanding this market. Results to be announced at Now, New, Next in October.
There are new developments for the Supplement OWL too—we developed the prototype so companies can attach supporting documentation for product entries. Participants will soon be able to provide GMP inspection reports, product certifications, certificates of analysis and more to display along with their product labels.
CRN announced the launch of a new standing committee at CRN: the Healthcare Practitioners Forum. This group will be composed of senior executive CRN members who market finished products primarily intended for the practitioner marketplace (i.e., dietary supplements and functional food sold or promoted by healthcare practitioners: integrative doctors, naturopaths, osteopaths, chiropractors, etc.). This new group will provide unique programming and networking that will complement CRN’s existing Retailer Relations Forum, which caters to products primarily sold through traditional chain drug, grocery, mass and club channels.
CRN staff demonstrated their places as thought leaders for the industry with several new bylines:
- Don't Sell Out DSHEA for CBD by Steve Mister
- Optimizing Healthspan: Innovative Approaches to Health Promotion by Jim Griffiths, Ph.D.
- FDA’s Stance on Mental Health Claims, by Megan Olsen, Haiuyen Nguyen
- The Dietary Supplement Industry’s Drug Preclusion Predicament, by Steve Mister
- Vitamin D & Me! by Luke Huber, N.D., MBA and Susan Hewlings, Ph.D.
All that in just the past three months! Can any other association say all that?
Infusing all of this activity, we are constantly reaffirming CRN as the center of innovation, self-regulation, thought leadership and policy development for the dietary supplement industry. CRN is a staff of 20 professionals who start every day with the singular goal of improving the climate for responsible companies to develop, source, manufacture, and market science-backed dietary supplements, functional food, and their ingredients—and a collection of over 180 companies who share that passion.
If you have any questions or concerns about your company’s membership, please let me know. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-204-7676.
With warm regards,
President & CEO
Council for Responsible Nutrition