The trade association for 21st-century natural health products companies

The United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) is an international association representing more than 100 leading natural products, dietary supplement, functional food, and scientific and technology and related service companies that share a commitment to providing consumers with natural health products of superior quality, benefit and reliability. Founded in Utah—recognized as the epicenter of dietary supplement manufacturing in the United States—in 1992, UNPA was instrumental in the passage of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and continues to take a leadership position in state and federal legislative and regulatory issues and industry best practices.

UNPA's History: Protecting consumers' access to dietary supplements

Our history is unique. In 1991, eight leading Utah-based dietary supplement companies agreed to form an alliance to challenge the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) aggressive and inappropriate enforcement actions against supplement companies, which threatened consumer access to these products. At that time, the association was named the Utah Natural Products Alliance.

UNPA embarked on a strategy to rewrite the rules governing dietary supplements. This plan was developed in close cooperation with the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and was realized by the introduction of the Health Freedom Act of 1992, sponsored by Sen. Hatch and Rep. Bill Richardson of New Mexico. This bill ultimately became the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). DSHEA was a shining example of consumers, trade associations and industry companies coming together to protect consumers' rights of access to supplements.

In 2005, the association's name was changed to the United Natural Products Alliance in recognition of the diversity of our membership, which now spans North America, Europe and Asia. One of UNPA's core missions is to help assure the full and proper implementation and enforcement of DSHEA, including a suite of laws and regulations that support DSHEA, such as good manufacturing practice (GMP) regulations, adverse event reporting systems, analytical method development, control of illegal products masquerading as dietary supplements and international quality-management protocols.

UNPA is a founding member of the International Alliance of Dietary Supplement Food Associations (IADSA), a network of associations that collaborate on the regulation and development of dietary supplement and functional food trade in a global economy.

Utah is widely recognized as the global center for dietary supplement manufacturing, and UNPA continues to build on this legacy while advancing its mission of assuring consumer access to safe, high quality and beneficial natural products.

UNPA Today: Industry growth through best practices, expanded trade and state chapter initiative

While UNPA continues to be a key player working with FDA to reach full and fair implementation of DSHEA, many other issues of vital importance to consumers and producers of natural health products are emerging:

  • A shifting political landscape on Capitol Hill and aggressive enforcement actions by FDA
  • Implementation of the Food Modernization Safety Act (FSMA)
  • Integration of healthcare reform and personalized and integrative medicine
  • Labeling of foods and ingredients containing genetically modified organisms (GMO), including GMO testing and supply-chain balance
  • An accepted trade definition of natural
  • A competent adverse event reporting structure in place, where applicable
  • Nanotechnology and advanced analytical testing capabilities
  • An expanded global marketplace, including Chinese trade opportunities and barriers

To address these and a host of other challenges and opportunities, UNPA has developed a comprehensive strategic plan, based on the implementation of best practices, to lead the natural health products industry, well into the 21st century.

In addition to advancing the overall natural health products agenda, this strategy includes focused economic and political advocacy through the creation of a unique network of state chapters in key states with a strong natural products presence and a compelling economic-significance message targeted to federal and state legislators.

UNPA continues a robust program of cooperative projects that includes memorandums of understanding and commercial agreements with partner organizations, certification programs and a wide variety of educational offerings.

As a 50-year-old company, NOW recognizes the value of the UNPA team’s historical perspectives in evaluating industry issues and determining how to proceed. The information we receive, opportunities to weigh in on policies and pertinent educational events make NOW’s UNPA membership indispensable.

Jim Emme, CEO, NOW