Mid-2021 Report

CRN leads in innovation, self-regulation, thought leadership, and policy development for the dietary supplement industry

by CRN President & CEO Steve Mister        Download PDF

As we pass the midpoint of the year, it’s striking to me how much we are accomplishing in 2021 on behalf of our members. Last year—despite the pandemic—was a watershed year for CRN, and the pace has only accelerated since then.  It’s reasonable to ask: “What has my trade association done for its members lately?” For CRN, that answer is easy—and extensive! Can I share with you some of the highlights for the second quarter of 2021? 

  • April began with the official launch of 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:
  • The CRN Foundation also launched Vitamin D & Me!, a collection of new resources for consumers addressing the increasing link between low Vitamin D levels and the severity of COVID-19 (and even effectiveness of the vaccine). This consumer education program is designed to raise the profile of Vitamin D and emerging evidence of the role Vitamin D plays in immune health.
  • In the state legislatures, CRN is pleased to report that bills in California and New York that would have placed age restrictions on weight loss and sports nutrition supplements have been delayed until 2022. CRN played key roles in the negotiations in both states to postpone further consideration of the bills. We are developing our strategy now to defeat these bills next year. 
  • CRN has led the industry response to Amazon’s decision in April to stop selling supplements containing N-Acetyl-cysteine (NAC), filing a Citizen Petition with FDA, urging Amazon to delay any action involving NAC, and building industry response to this announcement. CRN received a response from FDA in May indicating the agency’s review is not yet complete—hopefully signaling to retailers that the initial position of FDA is not a final agency action. CRN has also explored the implications of this issue for other ingredients that may be subject to the drug preclusion provision next!
  • CRN conducted separate meetings in May with Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock and her team, and with Acting ODSP Director Cara Welch. In these productive discussions, we covered topics including mandatory listing, NAC, a final NDI Guidance and increased FDA enforcement. CRN has a long track record of respectful, cordial, and candid relationships with our regulators.
  • When it comes to member education, we have been busy as well: 
    • CRN hosted our annual Legal Conference that tackled in-depth issues like class action litigation, the drug preclusion provision, Prop 65 changes, and tariffs & trade barriers.
    • We hosted WellComms, the premier conference for marketing professionals in the supplement space with speakers from McKinsey & Co., Edelman, Weber Shandwick, The Washington Post, and more.
    • CRN’s Sports Nutrition Working Group hosted two Olympic themed webinars for members only that examined drug-spiked products, banned substances, and how supplements help elite athletics meet their unique nutrition needs.
    • CRN presented a timely webinar on Counterfeit Supplements(now available on demand), and co-hosted the industry’s Regulatory Summit
    • Planning is underway for a CRN member toxicology symposium this fall, as well as our signature events, SCIENCE in Session and NOW, NEW, NEXT, October 19–22 at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel. 
  • On the policy level, we “went deep” in exploring potential changes to DSHEA. CRN hosted a public dialogue with CSPI (one of the industry’s harshest critics), met with Senator Durbin’s staff who are preparing his own reform legislation, and we have conferred with our members on issues like mandatory listing, proprietary blends, ingredient clarification and third party certification. 
  • Continuing on the public policy issues, CRN represented our members’ interests with an amicus brief in Prop 65 litigation and provided comments on CBD legislation with congressional offices. We worked to advance the CBD bills in the House and Senate, opposed single-use packaging bills in several states, and filed comments on the safety of titanium dioxide (TiO2) in Europe.
  • Our “Four Things to Know...” video series released its latest episode addressing Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025, a summary of the new federal Dietary Guidelines with analyses of how they impact supplements, nutrient gaps, and the needs of special populations. 
  • CRN developed and released a new white paper, Private Equity Loves Dietary Supplements—and Should Love CRN Too, that explores the unique return on investment that the trade association provides especially to outside private equity firms and CPG companies who invest in the fast-growing dietary supplement sector.
  • CRN staff continued to demonstrate thought leadership for the industry with seven new bylined articles published:


Can any other association say all that?

…and that just scratches the surface of our committee discussions, voluntary programs and internal governance. Permeating all of this, 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.

Would you like your voice even better represented? Be sure to sign up for our committees and working groups, register for upcoming events, sign up for the CRN Connect app, and read the Daily Supplement on a regular basis. What else can we do for you in 2021? It’s a question our members get answered every day.