Every industry needs a tough watch dog to ensure its gold standard approach to quality product manufacture, uphold its mission statement and guarantee consumers’ peace of mind.
For the pet supplement category, this guard dog is the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC).
The NASC – which is celebrating its 20th year – has become the largest trade association in the world for manufacturers of products for dogs, cats and horses, according to NASC president Bill Bookout. And, like many similar trade groups, the NASC’s formation was birthed by necessity.
Back in the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton signed legislation to govern the human supplement market, it excluded the animal marketplace. Because the pet industry, which is fueled by the human-animal bond, has always been what Bookout calls a “fast follow industry,” it was only a matter of time before the pet industry formed its own regulatory council.
Today, NASC members and affiliates include manufacturers, marketers, raw materials suppliers, distributors, regulators, veterinarians, retailers, pet professionals and animal owners. The mission is to promote the health and well-being of non-human, food chain animals that are given animal nutrition or health supplements by working transparently with state and federal regulators to establish quality standards that are fair, reasonable, responsible and nationally consistent.
NASC’s Great Achievement
“I believe that NASC’s greatest achievement to date has been our successful work with the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, the state regulatory agencies and organizations like AAFCO to develop, refine and implement a responsible self-regulatory path forward for products similar to human dietary supplements, which has benefitted all stakeholders (cats, dogs and horses),” noted Bookout.
“During this time, the industry more than doubled in size to $2.6 billion in sales in the U.S., and we have not had any serious adverse events negatively impact the health of the three species of animals under our scope,” Bookout added. “I would put our approach and results up against any industry sector as an example of how regulators and responsible industry participants can cooperate in the best interests of everyone involved, including our most important stakeholder — the animals themselves.”
One way for pet parents to recognize that a product meets the Council’s stringent standards is to look for their NASC Quality Seal on product labels, that may also be displayed on a member’s website, product literature and advertising.
“One of our primary goals for the future is to have the NASC Quality Seal be recognized as a credible mark of quality and a major purchasing differentiator for both consumers and retailers; and to continue to expand the NASC quality audit program to major markets outside the U.S. Global consistency is probably idealistic, but we hit where we aim, and, as an organization, the NASC has never been afraid to set our sights high,” explained Bookout.
Fundraising and giving back has become an integral part of this organization too. Every year, the NASC selects an animal-focused nonprofit organization to support through fundraising activities during the NASC Annual Conference.
According to Bookout, “this provides a conduit for NASC member companies to give back in a meaningful way by financially supporting charities that are helping to improve the lives of animals and people in need.”
Past charities have included the Warrior Dog Foundation, Heroes and Horses, Gabriel’s Angels, Vested Interest in K9s, and Believe Ranch and Rescue. This year’s beneficiary is the
PAWS Service Dogs, which received a $53,000 donation to help with its work in raising and training service dogs that are given to veterans with service-related injuries at no cost.
Since 2015, NASC members have raised more than $200,000 with 100 percent of the funds going directly to the organizations.