News for Retailers

Top speakers booked for HFI anniversary

The Health Food Institute’s anniversary lecture and lunch will feature a leading advocate of preventative medicine and the Medicinal Chef, Dale Pinnock.

Dr Dixon is a GP and National Clinical Lead for Social Prescription (NHS England) and was Chair of the NHS Alliance between 1998 and 2015. He is a strong advocate of preventative medicine, healthy living and integrated care.

Nutritionist, chef and author Dale Pinnock, arguably the health food sector’s favourite son, has made dozens of TV appearances and has co-presented a hit prime time series.

This year the HFI’s lecture and awards lunch celebrates the Institute’s 40th anniversary at the later date of June 27 at the Museum of Brands, London. Tickets are £45 for Members and Fellows, £50 everyone else, from Alison Collingwood Tel: 01159 767280, Email:

Northern powerhouse

The North East is becoming a hotbed for health food retail entrepreneurs. Recent store openings include Honey Bee at Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham, and Little Green café and health food shop in Newcastle, owned by nutritionist Gareth Zeal. Meanwhile, Durham Health Food Shop recently celebrated its first birthday.

CBD novel food listing – FSA stands firm

Alarmed industry bodies are fighting the “precipitous” EC listing of CBD products as a novel food.

If this status remains, current CBD products on retailers’ shelves would technically be illegal and should be removed, although such measures are unlikely at this stage.

Calling for “sanity and common sense”, Health Food Manufacturers Association director Graham Keen and his team, along with industry stakeholders and the Cannabis Trades Association, have pressed the Food Standards Agency to clarify the UK position.

The HFMA received assurances from the FSA at a meeting on February 7 that there would be no proactive or pre-emptive enforcement action, and a product withdrawal was ruled out. But the HFMA remains concerned that there was no consultation with the Association or any of its members on the changes to the novel food catalogue.

A request was made under the Freedom of Information Act for details of the consultation that the FSA claims took place in the two years before the February meeting. This has been turned down because it would involve “excessive resources”. HFMA has now submitted a refined request.

In a follow-up letter to the FSA, Keen pointed out that the listing as a novel food was a u-turn on the part of the EC which had previously confirmed that extracts from the Cannabis sativa (hemp) plant were not covered by the novel food regulation.

“Those products that were not novel yesterday (as confirmed by the Commission) cannot suddenly become novel today,” he wrote.

To be considered novel, a food must be shown to have insignificant consumption prior to 1997 – there is strong evidence of a hemp food and CBD-containing hemp oil market prior to that date. There are no known safety issues with CBD products.

An FSA spokesman told Better Retailing Magazine: “To date, no evidence has been provided from any businesses to suggest that CBD extracts have such a history of consumption as a food and so CBD products remain within the scope of the Novel Food Regulations.

“The FSA is considering the appropriate response to CBD products and is committed to finding a proportionate way forward by working with local authorities, businesses and other departments and consumers, and to clarify how this applies to individual products.”

The catalogue listing is not legally binding but is referenced by legislators and the industry at large, and has generated considerable media coverage that undermines consumer confidence.

The MHRA has already stated that hemp extracts are not medicinal unless medicinal claims are made. The regulation on the misuse of drugs also makes clear that pure CBD is not controlled, and where there are trace amounts of THC, which is controlled, these levels fall under an exemption in the vast majority of finished products.

Spendthrift Brits

Barclaycard’s consumer spending data shows that consumer spending growth dropped to 1.2 per cent year-on-year in February, equating to a decline in real terms when adjusting for inflation. Half of UK adults worry that Brexit will have a negative impact on the UK economy.

Ireland celebrates VAT victory

Ireland’s health food retailers and their customers won a temporary victory in the fight to stop VAT being imposed on supplements.

The move, which was to have come into force on March 1, was unexpectedly deferred as a petition signed by 75,000 people was presented to the Irish Parliament and Revenue offices.

The threat to add 23% VAT to supplements has now been put off until November to allow the Government to find an acceptable alternative.


Health Stores Ireland President Gerald Colfer said: “We have said all along that it was Government’s job to set tax policy and Revenue’s role to interpret this policy. Applying 23% VAT to food supplements made no sense socially, morally or fiscally.”

Health Stores Ireland National Organiser Alan McGrath will be using the grass-roots network of stores and the many political and executive connections they have made during the campaign to ensure that the Government maintains the zero VAT rate.

What about your store’s sustainability?

Many retailers are looking for energy efficient and sustainable solutions to protect the planet, and by doing so add to their bottom line.

Figures highlighted by The Week and featuring research from GeoPhy and E.ON reveal that saving energy is one of the easiest ways to increase the profits of any business.

Even if energy costs only account for a small percentage of turnover – thought to average between 4% and 9% for retailers – any reduction can increase margins without an increase in sales.

For example, the Carbon Trust has found that cutting energy costs by 20% has the same bottom line benefit as seeing a 5% increase in sales.

Better Retailing Magazine will expand on this opportunity in future issues and e-newsletters.

Health stores reap Veganuary success

Fifteen health food stores took part in the Veganuary roadshow earlier this year.

Veganuary teamed up with the National Association of Health Stores to organise the roadshow to highlight local shopping, support independent businesses and make a connection within the community.

Among the stores taking part were As Nature Intended at Chiswick and Spitalfields, Food for Thought’s three branches, Wild Thyme Wholefoods in Portsmouth, HISBE in Brighton, Beanfreaks, The Green Unicorn in Coventry, Friendly Foods in Wolverhampton and Sheaf Street Health Store, Daventry.

“My customers loved trying the samples,” reports Nikki Chetwynd, Owner of the Green Unicorn. “It was great to support Veganuary, and for them to show their support for independent vegan businesses is brilliant.”

(Pictured above: actor and Veganuary ambassador Peter Egan)

Keeping abreast of retailing trends

Independent retailers heading for Natural & Organic Products Europe at ExCeL London (April 7-8) can discover the latest consumer trends together with inspiration for greater high street success.

Catherine Erdly, (pictured above, right) Founder of Future Retail Consulting and a regular writer for Better Retailing Magazine, will explore ways retailers can succeed on the high street in the face of the online shopping challenge.

She will be the keynote speaker at the NAHS lunchtime session on the Sunday, followed by round-table discussions hosted by Julie Goodwin of Natural Health at Welwyn Garden City and Hertford, and Jen Marsh of The Eighth Day Cooperative, Manchester. (Reservation details 01875 341408,

Earlier on the Monday, Amy McManus, MD of AM Marketing, will reveal how to use Google to stay ahead of the retail game. Amy will be sharing her Google Partner Agency data to show where the trends are heading.

Soil Association Certification will give an update on the organic market trends and how it delivers for conscious consumers. Business Development Director Clare McDermott (pictured above, left) and Certification Trade Consultant Finn Cottle will identify these shoppers, what motivates them and how to reach them with relevant marketing and communications.

Nutritionist and author Dr Marilyn Glenville (pictured above, centre) will explain how to use available evidence to give your customers more personalised nutrition and diet advice, while in the natural beauty arena, NATRUE’s regulatory and scientific officer Dr. Hana Musinovic will explore the trade’s opportunities in consumer awareness of plastics in cosmetics and packaging. Soil Association’s Georgia Barnes will chair a panel discussion on how the beauty community is demanding change.

Among many other key presentations for retailers, author and journalist Janey Lee Grace will explore vegan trends and opportunities.

Read more news in the latest issue of Better Retailing Magazine

Read news stories from previous issues of Better Retailing Magazine here