President and CEO Steve Mister said: "The addition of an herbal scientist to our team will provide our member companies with critical expertise in an important category of growth for this industry and will also help strengthen our leadership in the botanicals arena."
According to the Nutrition Business Journal, herbals and botanicals accounted for $4.3bn out of the $20.3bn US dietary supplements market in 2004.
The CRN is one of several associations in the dietary supplements sector that sometimes collaborate over issues that affect their respective members, including the American Herbal Products Association which is dedicated solely to botanicals.
Judy Blatman, VP of communications told NutraIngredients-USA.com that the CRN has collaborated with AHPA in the past over projects that affect both their membership bases, and part of the remit of the new expert will be to help build more co-operations with other industry associations.
"The more scientific experts this industry can have, the better," she said.
In the three-and-a-half years since the position was vacated by previous incumbent John Cardellina PhD, CRN has also worked closely with the American Botanical Council (with which consultancy will be ongoing), and with botanicals experts employed by its member companies.
Although CRN initially planned to hire a new botanicals expert on the departure of Dr Cardellina, there was a shift in priorities when Annette Dickinson PhD retired from her full-time role (she continues to work on a part-time consultancy basis), and Andrew Shao PhD joined as VP of regulatory and scientific affairs. John Hathcock PhD is the CRN's VP of scientific & international affairs.
Blatman said that there is not any pressing or impending issues over botanicals that have precipitated the recruitment process at this time.
"As CRN continues to grow," said Mr Mister, "we are in a position to add resources to our association that will help grow the supplement industry."
CRN's membership count currently stands at 57 full members plus 12 associate and four international/correspondence members.
Amongst other duties, including representing the CRN before regulatory and government agencies, the new recruit will be responsible for increasing awareness of the research base on botanicals that supports plant-based dietary supplements and publishing papers.