Natural Products Association
John Shaw, Executive Director and CEO
Cara Welch, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory AffairsJeff Wright, President
|Area served||United States|
The Natural Products Association or NPA (formerly the NNFA, or the National Nutritional Foods Association) is the largest and oldest nonprofit organization representing the interests of manufacturers and retailers of the natural products industry, which includes organic and health foods, dietary supplements, natural ingredient cosmetics, and other similar products. The organization includes more than 1,900 members accounting for more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products.
The Natural Products Association was originally founded in 1936 as the American Health Foods Association (AHFA) to inform consumers about the benefits of the natural nutrition industry. In 1937, the association changed its name to the Natural Health Foods Association (NHFA), representing retailers, manufacturers and distributors. In 1943, NHFA was renamed to the National Dietary Foods Association (NDFA). In 1970, NDFA officially became the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA). The organization renamed itself the Natural Products Association or NPA in June 2006. NPA has grown from a small group of members in 1936 to approximately 2,000 in 2013.
The science and regulatory affairs department oversees the association's third-party certification programs.
The NPA Natural Seal is described as the first and only natural products certification in the United States. Currently only personal care and home care products and ingredients can be certified. The association requires that certified products must be at least 95 percent natural ingredients or ingredients from natural sources, excluding water. NPA-certified products must use natural ingredients, avoid ingredients with health risks, don’t use animal testing, and include biodegradable or recycled material in the packaging. Products also must list all ingredients on the package label, and NPA requires 100 percent natural fragrances and colorants. Certified products are said to appear in more than 85,000 stores nationwide. NPA has certified more than 1,200 products and ingredients since 2008, including well-known brands like Burt's Bees and J.R. Watkins.
The Natural Products Association launched the first third-party Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) program for the manufacturing of dietary supplements and ingredients in 1999. NPA GMP Certification is awarded to companies that comply with the NPA GMP standard as verified through comprehensive third-party inspections of facilities and GMP-related documentation. More than 70 companies are known to have achieved certification. NPA also offers a series of GMP training seminars across the United States each year.
The Natural Products Association educates members of Congress about the industry and the impact of federal legislation and regulations. In addition, NPA provides comments to federal agencies on how regulatory enforcement activities may affect manufacturers, retailers and consumers of natural products and dietary supplements. NPA's regional offices are primarily responsible for monitoring state legislative activity, though the national office leads outreach in California and Hawaii.
Natural Products Day
Each year, NPA hosts Natural Products Day for NPA members and others in the industry to visit Congressional offices and talk to senators, representatives and their staffs about legislative and regulatory issues. NPA also presents Congressional Champion Awards to selected legislators. In addition, the association hosts a California Natural Products Day in Sacramento.
Dietary Supplement Caucus
The Dietary Supplement Caucus (DSC) was launched in 2006 to serve as a bipartisan, bicameral group to facilitate discussions among congressional lawmakers about issues related to dietary supplements. In 2008, the DSC, in cooperation with the Natural Products Association and the Council for Responsible Nutrition, held its first briefing. The briefings continue to be held on Capitol Hill.
The Natural Products Association offers a variety of educational programs and resources for both members and non-members. These include:
- GMP training seminars for dietary supplement manufacturers about federal GMP requirements, compliance with GMP rules, and how to prepare for regulatory inspections.
- Labeling seminars covering both mandatory and non-mandatory elements of dietary supplement labeling, including labeling basics and regulations around health claims.
- The NPA Retailer's Staff Education Toolkit helps store owners educate their sales staff about what may and may not be discussed with customers about dietary supplements.
- Webinars and conference education sessions on industry topics throughout the year.
NPA members typically receive discounts off the price of education sessions.
Members of the Natural Products Association also may join one of five regional offices. Each region is governed by its own board of directors and the president of each region also sits on the national NPA Board of Directors. Regional offices include: NPA East; NPA Midwest; NPA Northwest; Southeast NPA; and NPA Southwest. 
|1936||Suppliers of natural food ingredients form the American Health Foods Association (AHFA), which, after several name changes, will become the Natural Products Association.|
|1937||AHFA holds its first convention with 150 people from the health food industry. The association transitions from a consumer group to become the Natural Health Foods Association (NHFA) representing retailers, manufacturers and distributors.|
|1943||NHFA becomes the National Dietary Foods Association (NDFA).|
|1969||NDFA merges with the American Dietary Retailers Association.|
|1970||At the annual convention, NDFA becomes the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA).|
|1994||Congress passes the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), creating a new framework for regulation of dietary supplements by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).|
|1997||NNFA holds its first annual advocacy event, Natural Products Day, in Washington, D.C.|
|1999||NNFA launches the first third-party Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification program for the manufacturing of dietary supplements and ingredients.|
|2006||At the annual convention and trade show, NNFA changes its name to the Natural Products Association (NPA).|
|2007||NPA launches a raw materials testing program for Chinese products.|
|2008||NPA launches the Natural Seal certification program for personal care products.|
|NPA establishes the Natural Products Foundation (NPF), whose mission is to promote and facilitate research and education related to natural products for the benefit of consumers and industry.|
|2010||NPA launches the Natural Seal certification program for home care products.|
|NPA grants the 500th certification to products and ingredients with the Natural Seal.|
|2011||NPA celebrates the 75th anniversary of the association.|
|2012||NPA reaches the 1,000th certification under the Natural Seal program.|
|2013||NPA calls for a national standard on the labeling of food products with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).|
- "Timeline of the Natural Products Industry." The Gormley Files. April 13, 2010
- "NPA Natural Seal Covers 1,200th Product." Nutraceuticals World. April 1, 2013
- "Knowing the Limits of GMP Education, Training." Natural Products INSIDER. April 8, 2013
- "Natural on the Hill." Whole Foods Magazine. May 2013
- "NPA to Host Natural Products Day in CA." Natural Products INSIDER. June 11, 2013
- "Dietary supplement caucus addresses supplements in sports health and fitness." NUTRA Ingredients-USA. May 16, 2013
- "Natural Products Association: A natural watchdog." The American Business Journal
- "NPA celebrates 75th anniversary." Drug Store News. March 7, 2011
- "Big Jump in NPA Natural Certifications." Nutritional Outlook. June 25, 2012
- "NPA calls for federal GMO labeling." Engredea News & Analysis. March 19, 2013