Oldest U.S. natural products trade group files for bankruptcy

(Reuters) - The Natural Products Association, which said it is the largest and oldest U.S. nonprofit dedicated to the natural products industry, filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, citing six straight years of losses and a costly arbitration with a former chief financial officer.

Chief Executive Daniel Fabricant said in a filing with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware that the Chapter 11 case will provide a “breathing spell” for the Washington, D.C.-based trade group to focus on advocacy and adding members.

Founded in 1936, the nonprofit said it has more than 1,000 members which account for over 10,000 retail, manufacturing, wholesale, and distribution locations for natural foods, dietary supplements, and health and beauty aids.

The nonprofit was originally called the American Health Foods Association. It took its current name in 2006.

According to the bankruptcy petition, former Chief Financial Officer Brent Weickert holds the largest unsecured claim, a disputed $780,179 arbitration award. A lawyer for Weickert did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman