Timeline: Major Events of 2014-2019

A glimpse at the news that shaped the industry over the last five years. (In most cases, the events are listed under the months in which they were reported by WholeFoods Magazine.)

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2014: Seeds of Change Planted

There was no big, months-long, industry-pummeling story in 2014, but an industry based on farming understands the power of seeds. 2014 planted seeds that are blooming today. Of note:

In April, the FDA proposed an updated Nutrition Facts label with a listing for Added Sugars, a mandate that was finalized in 2016; it takes effect in 2020.

Vermont passed a GMO-labeling law in June and was sued over it in August. Still, the law stood until 2016, when Obama signed a law overriding it. In December 2018, the USDA passed a rule requiring bioengineered food be labeled.

January
• FDA Orders Seizure of Adulterated
Supplements
• Report Suggests Link Between GMOs and Gluten Sensitivity
• Personal Genome Service Receives FDA Warning

February
• FTC Launches Campaign Against Deceptive Weight-Loss Ads
• Widespread Enzymes Recall Affects Supplement, Food Industries
WholeFoods Magazine celebrates 30th anniversary under the management of the Wainer Family.

March
• Congress Passes Farm Bill; Organics Get a Boost
• FDA/FTC  Increases Scrutiny of Social Media Efforts
• FDA Releases Guidance on Distinguishing Beverages from Supplements

April
• FTC Wins Case Against Bogus Diabetes Treatment Maker
• Kratom Firmly on FDA’s Radar
• Update on Nutrition Facts Labels

May
• Global ID Group Launches International Non-GMO Network
• Marketers Should Beware “Natural”
• Claims Lawsuits

June
• Vermont Passes No-Strings GMO-Labeling Law
• Cleaning Up an Ocean of Plastic, One Gyre at a Time
• New Guideline Helps Consumers Compare Protein in Supplements and Foods

July
• Fabricant Discusses FDA’s Priorities in NYC
• Green Bean Coffee Sellers Charged for False Claims
• Politicians, Trades Rally Around Steroid Control Act
• USDA Will Fund Local Food Projects
• More Evidence Linking Insecticides, Bee Colony Collapse

August
• Summer 2014 Heats Ups With M&A Activity
• Senators Question Dr. Oz on Deceptive Weight-Loss Products
• Climate Change Will Be Costly to U.S. Economy
• “Day on the Hill” Participants Support DASCA

September
• Vermont Polls Public on Implementing GMO Labeling Law
• NPA Honors WholeFoods Founder, Columnist
• “Landmark” Study Boosts Organic Food Nutrition Claims

October
• GMO Labeling in Colorado Will Receive Vote
• Feds Clarify Labeling Rules for Companies With “Organic” in Name
• Mainstream Herbal Supplements Sales Steadily Rising
• Gluten-Free Labeling Rule Takes Effect

November
• Organic Industry Updated; NOSB Food Safety and More
• Gluten Intolerance Group Celebrates 40 Years
• USDA Approves New Pesticide-Resistant Crops to Much Controversy
• California Bans Plastic Bags at Most Retail Outlets
• House Passes Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act

December
• CRN Survey Shows High Usage and Confidence for Supplements in the U.S.
• Colorado, Oregon Vote Against Labeling GMOs.
• Mediterranean Diet Can Help Lower Risk of Kidney Disease.

2015: Industry Shakeup Sparks Solidarity

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent cease-and-desist letters to GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens for selling misbranded supplements, based on DNA testing. The industry reacted with questions and education: Where is the data? It hadn’t been made public. Why use DNA testing—and only DNA testing—on supplements, in which the ingredients have been extracted to the point of having lost all DNA? Why use a lab with no expertise in botanicals testing? Why not seek verification from other labs? GNC released their own comprehensive test results of their products within days of the AG’s action. The United Natural Products Alliance collected more than 500 samples of the original products, organized testing, and made the results public through its science and technology group. CRN spoke loudly and endlessly, providing scientific evidence disproving the test results. The American Herbal Products Association responded to more than 20 media outlets within a week of the initial cease-and-desist letters, correcting misinformation and handling negative news articles.

The Natural Products Association and their CEO, Daniel Fabricant, forged a relationship with Schneiderman early on to ensure that accurate information about the industry was readily available to the AG. They met throughout the year. The attack on the natural products industry was beat back through science, information and communication

January
• Monsanto Agrees to Pay $2.4 million to Resolve Complaints about GMO Soft Wheat
• Oregon GMO Labeling Recount Doesn’t Make Labeling GMOs Necessary
• Sales in Gluten-free Food Market Keep on Growing

February
• General Mills Disbands its Organic Division
• Senator Martin Heinrich Recognized as a New Leader for Supplements

March
• The Vitamin Shoppe Enters the Prepared Foods Market
• CRN Foundation Pledges Grants to Self-Regulatory Supplement Advertising
• NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Demands Four Retailers Halt Herbal Supplement Sales
• Margaret Hamburg Resigns from the FDA

April
• NYAG Herbal Supplement Investigation Extends to Manufacturers
• Enjoy Life Foods Acquired by Mondelez International
• U.S. Government May Drop Cholesterol Warning
• Nationwide Survey Reveals Increased Usage of Fish Oil and Melatonin
• Federal GMO Labeling Bill Brought Back
• Organic Produce Equals Less Pesticide Exposure

May
• H.J. Heinz Co. and The Kraft Foods Group Enter Into Merger Agreement
• Natural Products Day Features Lobbying on Herbal Testing, Other Issues

June
• FDA Issues Warning Against Companies Using BMPEA; Senators Push for Investigation
• Companies Respond to Disaster in Nepal
• Vermont Attorney General Adopts GMO Labeling Rules
• Report Shows Global Opportunities for American Organic Goods

July
• Two AGs Push for Reform on Supplement Industry Regulations
• USDA Gives First Non-GMO Verification Through Process Verified Program
• New Raw Foods Standards and Trade Association in the Works
• Aker BioMarine Looking for Partners Through Open Innovation Program

August
• Supplements Industry Is Vulnerable, Says CRN’s Mister
• Military Supplement Amendments No Longer in Defense Bill
• Study: Air Pollution Could Lead to Cognitive Deficits

September
• GMO Labeling Bill Passes the House
• FDA Wants to Revise Nutrition Facts Label
• Scotland to Ban GMO Crops
• Healthy Snacking on the Rise in U.S.

October
• FDA Issues Warning Letters to Caffeine Powder Companies
• FDA to Hampton Creek: “Just Mayo” Isn’t Mayo
• GOED’s Omega-3 Campaign Produces Positive Results
• Food Safety and Quality More Important to Consumers than Ever

November
• Expo East Celebrates #30
• NYAG’s Attack on Supplements Extends to Devil’s Claw
• CRN’s Mister: Key Implications from the FTC-Bayer Court Case
• USDA, EPA Set First National Goal to Cut Down Food Waste

December
• Oregon AG Launches Attack on GNC
• FTC: Five Lessons About Supplement Ads
• CRN Greenlights Product Registry
• Senate Hearing Discusses Biotech and GMOs
• Industry Leaders Discuss Future of Dietary Supplements

2016: Science +Standards = a Win

The big story for 2016 didn’t pop up until August, but its effect on the industry was great enough to influence WholeFoods’ choice for Person of the Year. The FDA issued a revised draft guidance on August 11, clarifying new dietary ingredient (NDI) notifications for the industry.

The NPA suggested that costs for NDI notifications were much higher than the FDA believed. Ingredients that had been safely marketed for years without a NDI would suddenly be considered adulterated. It was thanks to industry comments that the FDA agreed to develop a master file of grandfathered ingredients. The CRN expressed concerns about synthetic constituents of botanicals, feeling that if the synthetic was demonstrably equivalent to the natural equivalent, it should not require a new NDI. The NPA also found inconsistencies and errors in the guidance, and requested an extended comment period so as to make time to fully address the draft.

Cara Welch, Ph.D., senior adviser for FDA’s Office of Dietary Supplement Programs, became WholeFoods’ Person of the Year for her handling of the issue. Dr. Welch had worked for the NPA, and knew the industry. She was able to communicate with the industry logically and rationally. She and industry leaders came to the same conclusion: There is disagreement between industry and regulators, there will be disagreement, clarification will not always be favorable, but leaders and regulators are coming from the same place. Both sides want safety and transparency in food and supplements; both sides want respect and science in debate; both sides want education. The NDI guidance was taxing, but Dr. Welch and industry leaders dug into it for a final product that was acceptable.

January
• U.S. Agencies Make Sweeping Actions Against Supplement Companies
• Aloe Vera Extract, Goldenseal Root Added to CA’s Prop 65 List
• Whole Foods Market Struggles Amidst Increased Competition
• FDA Proposed New Rule for Gluten-Free Labeling Compliance February
• Dietary Supplements Programs Now an Office
• President Approves Legislation Banning Microbeads
• New 2015 Dietary Guidelines Earn Praise from CRN
• Sabinsa Founder Publishes Curcumin Book

March
• Frontline Slams Supplements Industry
• AHPA and UNPA Hire Attorneys to Talk to State AGs
• CRN Now Requires Members to Submit Info to ODS Label Database
• Monsanto Sues to Prevent California from Listing Glyphosate as Carcinogen

April
• Hemp Industries Association Responds to FDA Warning Letters
• Bill Threatening Mandatory GMO Labeling Blocked By Senate
• House Passes Bill Loosening Calorie Disclosure Rules
• New Assay Tested for Antioxidant-Based Products
• FDA Releases GMP Inspection Observations Data

May
• First Trade Association is Established for Plant-Based Foods
• General Mills Will Disclose GMOs in Products Nationwide
• FDA Sued by Coalition of Fishing Organizations
• NPA to Launch National Trade Show in 2017

June
• GNC to Sell Off 1,000 Stores by 2020
• Lobby Day 2016: NPA’s Efforts on Capitol Hill
• The Paris Agreement: An Uphill Battle

July
WholeFoods Magazine Launches New Site, Retail Content Library
• NPA Wants Action Against Arbitrary Taxes, Repetitive Legislation
• National Academy of Sciences Releases Report on GMOs
• FDA Unveils New Nutrition Facts Label
• First Program Certifying Products in Transition to Organic

August
• Senate Passes Mandatory GMO Labeling Bill
• Philadelphia Passes Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages
• NPA Tightens Certification Standards
• FDA Warning States that Whole Foods Market Failed to Address Food Safety Problems

September
• NPA Launches Regulatory Database
• FTC: Companies Misrepresented “Natural” Products
• Massachusetts Bill Prohibiting Dietary Supplements to Minors Fails
• Agreement Reached in Astaxanthin Trademark Dispute
• Monsanto Says “No” to Bayer Takeover
• FSIS Will Begin Posting Location-Specific Food Safety Data Online
• New Pulse Seal Launched at IFT

October
• FDA Releases Draft Guidance for NDI Notifications
• AHA Sets New Added Sugar Limits for Kids and Teens
• USDA New Guidance “Negative Claims” for GMOs In Meat, Poultry and Eggs
• Results from Groundbreaking Lutein Studies Released

November
• Record-Breaking Expo East
• NBTY Agrees to DNA Barcode Herbal Ingredients
• NPA Launches Game-Changing SSCI Initiative
• FDA Proposed Rule for Term “Healthy” on Foods

December
• CRN Unveils Supplement OWL
• GNC Courting Chinese Buyers
• Natreon Inc. Files Lawsuit Against Ixoreal Biomed Inc.
• Senator Urges FDA to Withdraw Vinpocetine Notice
• U.S. and Mexico Collaborate On Joint Organic Committee

2017: Amazon Ushers in a New Era

WholeFoods created a stir by selecting Jeff Bezos—owner of Amazon, and, as of August 2017, Whole Foods Market—as the Person of the Year. But it’s worth noting that this honor is not reserved only for people who bring nothing but positives. Modeled after Time Magazine, the title goes to a person who has a major impact on the industry. And it’s hard to argue that in 2017, that person was not Bezos. He created initial shockwaves on June 16, when it was announced that Amazon would buy Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion. WholeFoods Magazine’s coverage of this took up a page and a half, and the acquisition hadn’t even closed yet. At the time, Jay Jacobowitz of Retail Insights felt that “Since independents were already outclassed in terms of capitalization, Amazon’s deeper pockets don’t really make a difference.” Amazon’s acquisition was expected to begin a transition towards online grocery, a drop in Whole Foods Market’s prices, and a shift in consumer interest away from independents and towards Whole Foods.

Still, many in the industry reacted with a shrug. Jacobowitz noted that Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods was an admittance of the necessity of brick-and-mortar stores. Corinne Shindelar, then-CEO of INFRA, too, took it as an opportunity to reinforce to customers that locally owned businesses affect the local economy and the natural products industry in much bigger ways than Amazon ever could. As much, then, as the latter half of 2017 was about fear of what Amazon could do to the industry, it’s safe to say that it was also about the industry remembering that independent retailers love what they do, and that that passion has kept the industry strong in the past and will continue to do so.

January
• Trade Groups Submit Comments to FDA Regarding NDI Draft Guidance
• NPA and ABC Submit Comments to DEA Regarding Kratom
• NAOOA Sues Dr. Oz Over Fake Olive Oil Claims

February
• CRN and IPA Establish Best Practices Guidelines for Probiotics
• GNC Relaunches As One New GNC
• DEA Places CBD Under Schedule I Drug Code
• USDA Announces SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot

March
• OTA and USDA Partner for Organic Transitional Oversight Program
• FTC Files Charges Against Prevagen, Inc.
• Disposable Shopping Bag Tax Takes Effect in Chicago
• USDA to Remove 11 Substances from Organic National List

April
• Scott Gottlieb, M.D. Nominated Commissioner of FDA
• Amazon Launches “Amazon Elements” Supplements
• NAOOA Lawsuit Against Dr. Oz Show Dismissed
• UNPA Welcomes AFS as Newest Executive Member

May
• NPA’s Natural Products Day: Industry Takes on Capitol Hill
• Scott Gottlieb Confirmed as FDA Commissioner

June
• Supplement OWL Now Live
• EuroPharma Adopts Turmeric and Joins ABC’s Adopt-an-Herb Program
• Albertsons Rumored to Acquire Whole Foods Market
• AIDP Appointed Licensed Distributor of LJ100

July
• OTA Survey Shows Upward Trend in Organic Sector
• PepsiCo Courting Vita CoCo’s Owners for Potential Acquisition

August
• Amazon Buys Whole Foods Market for $13.7 Billion
• FDA Updates Industry About NDI Draft Guidance

September
• Landmark Legislation Extends Supplement Reach
• Nutrition, Health and Wellness Industry Sets Record Pace for Deals
• Sabinsa Joins Global Curcumin Association as Founding Board Member

October
• Harvey’s Impacts Will Linger for Months
• Target Ends Relationship With Hampton Creek
• INFRA CEO Bullish On Independents After Whole Foods + Amazon Closes
• Walmart, Google Unite Voices vs. Amazon
• FDA Sets Oct. 3 for Pre-DSHEA Ingredients Hearing
• Health Canada Approves Ganeden’s Additional Probiotic Health Claims

November
• Nature’s Fury Makes for Record-Breaking Floods, Fire, and Loss
• SENPA Rebrands, Leaves NPA
• Vitamin Shoppe Global Announces Digital China Expansion
• New Bill Would Make Supplements Eligible Under SNAP Benefits
• CVS Opens New Flagship Store With Focus on Natural

December
• US Dietary Supplement Use on the Rise, CRN Research Finds
• NPA Seeks SENPA Name Change; Issues Cease and Desist Letter
• FDA Sends Warning Letters to CBD Oil Companies

2018: Ups & Downs of the Farm Bill

The year was spent eagerly watching the Farm Bill, and in particular the Hemp Farming Act, which called for the legalization of hemp farming, the removal of hemp from the federal list of controlled substances, and for hemp researchers to apply for federal grants. The Hemp Farming Act made it through to the final version in Congress. Then, we did a bit more waiting, many of us sitting glued to CSpan, as what was announced as a 2:00 EST signing by President Trump stretched on to 3:00, then 4:00, with the Twitterverse speculating that maybe the Farm Bill wouldn’t be signed after all. It was, though, and industry groups celebrated as the bill also established funding for organic research and oversight of global organic trade, as well as funding for the organic certification cost-share program. The news wasn’t all good, though. A fight to allow those on SNAP benefits to purchase multivitamins was not part of the final bill, despite efforts from the Council for Responsible Nutrition and others. That said, this bill is, by most measures, a huge success for the industry, thanks, in large part, to the collective efforts of those who fight for the good of the industry.

January
• Record-Setting Fires Take Toll
• MIT Researchers Find Probiotic May Relieve Hypertension
• Albertsons Teams With Instacart for Same-Day Delivery

February
• Industry Thanks Sen. Orrin Hatch After Retirement Announcement
• FDA Modifies FSMA Enforcement
• Whole Foods Market Unveils In-Store Merchandising Fees

March
• Taking a Stand on MAP
• OTA Slams USDA for Withdrawn Animal PracticesApril
• FDA Updates Nutrition Facts Label Guidance
• Vitamin Angels Sends Goal to End Newborn Mortality by 2030
• McConnell Pushes to Remove Hemp From Controlled Substances List

May
• Understanding the New Regenerative Organic Certification
• Whole Foods Market Pledges to Keep Local Touch
• FDA Wants to Define What is Natural, Healthy

June
• Procter & Gamble to Buy Merck Consumer Health Business
• Personalized Testing Trend Growing
• Industry Applauds Legislation to Empower DEA’s Regulation of SARMs

July
• Monsanto Name Laid To Rest in Bayer Acquisition
• PepsiCo Buys BareFoods
• Organic Trade Association Launches New Fraud Detection Effort

August
• Industry Wary As Trade Wars, Tariffs Unfold
• Califia Farms Attracts $50 Million Investment
• Spirulina Earns USP Verified Mark

September
• Johnson & Johnson Buys Zarbee’s For Future
• UNFI Broadens Distribution Reach With SuperValu Purchase
• NPA Interjects as Trade Wars, Tariffs Unfold
• Amazon Elements Growing and Leading with Ingredient Transparency
• NSF International Updates Pesticides Test Requirements

October
• Pepsi’s $3.2B SodaStream Deal Taps Healthy Drink Trend
• King Bio Recalls Children’s Lines and Water-Based Products
• Vitamin Shoppe Goes Keto, Partners with Dr.Axe
• Bayer Faces Flood of Monsanto Glyphosate Suits

November
• EPA Petitioned for More Stringent Glyphosate Limits
• California Hemp Farming Approved; Farm Bill Stalls
• Amazon Sets $15 Minimum Wage, Whole Foods Workers Included
• Milestone Clinical Trial Suggests Omega-3 Drug Reduces Cardiovascular Risk

December
• Romaine Lettuce E.Coli Outbreak Sickens More
• Detox Project Sees Demand For Glyphosate Certification Rising
• PepsiCo Buys Health Warrior

2019: The future of hemp, and whatever comes next

This year the big story will be—who knows? But the FDA gave us a glimpse when, just moments after President Trump signed the Farm Bill into law, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., released a statement pointing out that cannabidiol (CBD) is still illegal in food or dietary supplements. Industry groups began responding immediately, making it clear that they will work tirelessly to serve the interest of the industry and the consumers who can benefit from the products. AHPA’s Director of Program Development and liaison to the AHPA Cannabis Committee, Jane Wilson, stated at the time, “AHPA has been engaged in issues related to the safe use and responsible commerce of lawfully marketed products derived from Cannabis since 2010 and we will continue to actively participate in any and all relevant FDA meetings and rulemaking activities.” One thing is certain: On this or any other breaking news that bubbles up in 2019 and beyond, WholeFoods Magazine will be reporting on it, keeping you in the loop, just as we have been for 35 years

January
• Farm Bill a Win for Hemp, Organics
• FDA Issues Warning on Products Making Opioid-Related Claims
• NPA Asks to Join Dietary Supplement Working Group
• Companies Support Relief Efforts
• Oleic Acids Gets a Qualified Health Claim
• Kraft Heinz to Acquire Primal Kitchen
• The Government Shutdown: Impact on Industry
• Sprouts Expasion Announced

February
WholeFoods Magazine celebrates 35th year of ownership by the Wainer Family

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