Dispatches from Vitafoods Europe 2014

French supplements market set for return to 10%+ growth after a ‘not very good’ year

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The French food supplements market is set for double digit growth this year as the sector adapts to changing EU regulations around health claims, according to the chairman of the country’s biggest trade group.

“Last year it was not very good – the market growth was about 3.5%. This year it appears that the first three or four months are much more positive and we would dream of having a double digit growth as it used to be in the past,” said Alban Maggiar chairman of Synadiet, which represents 90% of the French industry.

“I think that many companies didn’t know how to handle all these claims regulations and they had to change many packaging and it was a huge cost and many of them cut down the number of references they had in their company, in their brands and so they managed to have a kind of new start in the way they were marketing their products.”

He said one common result of the implementation of the EU nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR) was the proliferation of products adding claim-possessing vitamins and minerals to gain claims.

“Which is a little strange to me but many people did that, so now it is easier. But as well the kind of training that is given to shops or pharmacies has evolved…”

NHCR issues

Despite the progress, Maggiar remains critical of the NHCR and its implementation in France and across the EU’s 28 member states.

“The aim of the regulation is to give complete and loyal information to consumers, and when you see some of the packaging now you only have a list of ingredients and so we are exactly in the opposite situation…”

“…the average consumer doesn’t know what the product is made for and we may reach what I would say dangerous situations in which a consumer would use a product not knowing what it is for and this product would not be good for him.”

Maggiar, who is also chairman of pan-European group EHPM, said it was difficult to encourage members to submit claims to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) given the track record or rejection.

“I dream of that,” Maggiar quipped of the idea of greater EFSA interaction.

He praised the tri-party work of French, Belgian and Italian researchers and regulators that had produced a list of safe herbs with efficacious indications known as BELFRIT.

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