The voice of natural foods appears stronger as Natural Products Association (NPA) membership surges. This week, the nonprofit trade association announced 6 percent retail member growth with the addition of 75 retailers in the last two months.

The association has about 1,900 members representing more than 10,000 locations among its retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors. Retailers make up the majority.

For NPA, more members means a stronger voice on Capitol Hill as more numbers get more notice, said Kim Dresser, the nonprofit’s vice president of membership and communications. That’s key for the organization that focuses on advocating on behalf of the natural foods industry and mobilizing grassroots efforts around health issues.

“NPA offers a wide range of money-saving programs, but most importantly, we advocate for retailers with Congress and regulatory agencies,” Jeff Wright, president of NPA, said in a press release. “By standing together, we can fight adverse legislation and regulations that impact our ability to have access to the products that our customers love to use.”

The organization alerts retailers about issues so they can communicate with and educate their customers. "That's the grassroots effort that we talk about," Dresser said.

And each year through NPA, retailers, manufacturers and suppliers from across the country meet with senators, representatives and their staffs to talk about legislation and regulatory activity during the annual Natural Products Day in Washington, D.C.

“In the 112th Congress, NPA has been monitoring bills that range from cosmetic regulation to the labeling of dietary supplements," said Elizabeth Hurst, government relations manager. "NPA is also actively engaged in educating Congress about dietary supplements and the issues that affect the natural products industry, such as the FDA’s draft guidance on new dietary ingredients. NPA believes that the draft NDI guidance would lead to fewer new products in the marketplace, profoundly affecting the ability of retailers to sell products that their customers want and need."

In an effort to grow the advocacy voice and networking, the NPA has refocused and reintroduced itself in the last six months to retailers and remains committed to its advocacy mission as issues arise.

NPA MarketPlace 2012 tradeshow outreach also has attracted membership, as has the recent addition of an optional insurance benefits package for comprehensive general liability and property coverage.