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Vegetarian Journal Mar/Apr 2001

Note from the Coordinators

VRG Accurately Predicts Some Future Trends

Debra Wasserman
Charles Stahler
W hile attending a session entitled "State of the Industry—Supply Side," at the Natural Products Expo East, we suddenly realized that The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) is way ahead when it comes to accurately predicting some future trends. We have listened to panel discussions similar to this one for quite some time now and have wondered when the natural products industry experts would finally recognize that a large driving force behind the spectacular growth we are seeing in this industry is those of us who are vegetarian for either environmental or animal rights reasons. We are a vocal audience.

For years the panelists have focused their talks on individuals who buy natural pro-ducts primarily for health reasons. You might even conclude they have been unaware of all of us who buy natural products for ecological or ethical beliefs. The good news is we're no longer being overlooked by these industry experts. At this panel discussion, one speaker emphasized that the ecological consumer makes up a large portion of the natural products audience. The presenter stressed that anyone involved in this industry needs to understand this customer. Perhaps this recognition has come in part due to flat sales in the supplement arena and sky-rocketing growth in organic purchases.

Consumers have become better educated and are demanding scientific proof when it comes to claims being made about natural products. Throughout our history, VRG has always focused on producing and presenting scientifically accurate material. We also recognize that it is extremely important to work within the establishment to have an impact and not always to be "anti"-this or -that. We work closely with professional health organizations, teacher groups, the publishing industry, the food service arena, and others. As a result, we are better able to understand different audiences and to predict future trends. To some extent we may even be molding these trends.

For example, when we first started attending The American Dietetic Association (ADA) Annual Meeting, the public at large generally felt that dietitians were anti-vegetarian and had little interest in natural products. We knew this could not be true. Today you'll find a vegetarian practice group within the ADA, more vegetarian dietitians, and a large number of natural foods companies exhibiting at this meeting.

In the early 1980s when VRG first wanted to publish a quick and easy vegetarian cookbook because we accurately predicted the need, mainstream publishers felt no one would be interested in this topic. Nevertheless, today quick and easy vegetarian and vegan cookbooks continue to be hot sellers.

A recent VRG project was writing a vegetarian/vegan meal plan for the National Meals on Wheels Program, which is suitable for most senior feeding sites. By promoting this meal plan now, this population in the near future will certainly have many more veggie options.

By joining The Vegetarian Resource Group and reading Vegetarian Journal, you too will be able to understand and predict better where the natural products industry is headed. Your support enables us to have some influence on determining these future trends.

Debra Wasserman & Charles Stahler

Coordinators of The Vegetarian Resource Group 


Excerpts from the Mar/Apr 2001 Issue

The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone wanting to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

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January 16, 2001

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