News for Retailers

Irish independents ‘vibrant and enterprising’

As the winners of the 2019 Health Stores Ireland/Better Retailing Magazine Awards were announced at the Vitality show in Dublin, the independent retail sector was told just how influential and vibrant it is.

Ireland’s independent health food retailers celebrated in style as the awards were presented in five categories in September.

The top five health stores were named as Here’s Health, Cork (Innovation and Business Development); Blásta Wholefoods, Dungarvan (Community Engagement); Evergreen, Galway (Training & Education); The Aloe Tree, Ennistymon (Environmental Initiatives); and Organico, Bantry (Digital Marketing).

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Irish health stores delegation scores VAT victory

A deputation from Health Stores Ireland went to an Irish parliamentary committee to champion the case against imposing 23% VAT on health food supplements.

Six representatives appeared at the Oireachtas Joint Finance Committee in Dublin on October 3 – which then decided to send an urgent statement to the Minister for Finance with a consensus opinion that next year’s Budget should retain zero-rated food status taxation on food supplements and vitamins, as has been the practice for over 40 years.

The VAT hike was announced earlier this year but postponed after health stores and consumers protested. Combined with probable additional tariffs should the UK leave the EU without a deal, consumers could be faced with a price increase of almost 40% on some supplements.

Matt Ronan, Health Stores Ireland spokesperson, made an impassioned and logical plea to the committee, backed up by tax consultant Kevin Hurley and GP and medical herbalist Dr Dilis Clare, a member of Health Stores Ireland.

“Any imposition of VAT would impact negatively on health and on retailers,” he told the committee. “A serious risk of any price increase in supplements is that consumers will abandon their local stores and purchase supplements online where there is no regulation. This will lead to local job losses.”

Blaze destroys Marigold warehouse

Fire destroyed much of Marigold Health Foods’ distribution centre and offices in White Hart Lane, North London, in the early hours of Saturday September 28. There has been severe damage to the building and its contents.

Eighty firefighters from several London fire stations fought the blaze which has severely disrupted Marigold’s services to independent health food stores, especially in London.

“Marigold is grateful for the patience and understanding of customers during this challenging period,” said a statement on the company’s website,

“We can only apologise to all the businesses, local residents and our staff who are affected. This website can still be used for invoice payments and accessing product information and history.

“We will endeavour to notify customers and suppliers of any developments as soon as we can.”

Emergency phone numbers are listed on the website including 07904 815219 for sales and 07904 815059 for buyers.

Better Retailing Magazine joins many in the health food industry in wishing Marigold a speedy recovery at this difficult time.

National award for food check app

Coeliac UK, the charity for people who need to live gluten free, won a top award for its Gluten Free Food Checker app that makes shopping for food and drink products safer and easier.

The Memcom awards celebrate the positive impact that professional bodies, trade associations and membership charities have on public good.

Awarding Coeliac UK as the winner in the 2019 ‘Best use of an app’ category, the judges said they were struck by the sheer scale and ambition of the app, which provides access to a database of over 100,000 products and allows the charity’s members to personalise content.

One in a hundred people in the UK has coeliac disease but around half a million people in the UK are currently undiagnosed. It still takes an astonishing 13 years on average for a person to be diagnosed.

Blue Planet effect

Since watching the BBC’s Blue Planet, 60% of us are now more likely to use a refillable water bottle. More women (67%) than men (54%), but the Welsh are ahead (74%) although 100% of Love Island contestants are up for it (refillables, that is).

Lords committee looks into healthy ageing

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee inquiry into how science and technology can enable healthier living in old age begins in October.

The deadline for written evidence is September 20 with oral submissions beginning a few weeks later.

Life span has increased over recent decades, but health span, the period of time people live in good health, has generally not kept pace, and so older people are living longer with ill health.

The increasing number of people affected is placing pressure on health services and social care, threatening to overwhelm the funding mechanisms, and failing those in need.

The inquiry will seek to determine whether the Government’s ambition to increase health span is achievable in principle, and which approaches may be most successful in practice.

Committee chairman Lord Patel said: “The Government wants to increase the health span of the population, which would mean that people could live independently for longer, with better health and wellbeing, and would reduce pressure on services and finances.”

NAHS needs you

The National Association of Health Stores is looking for new committee members. Health store owners and managers wanting to be considered should contact Avril McCracken on 01875 341 408 or email

Facebook explains its health claims policy

Facebook is clamping down on sensationalised health claims or posts pushing questionable products.

Travis Yeh, Facebook Product Manager, says the social media platform has made ranking changes to help improve the accuracy of health information.

“People come together on Facebook to talk about, advocate for, and connect around things like nutrition, fitness and health issues,” he says. “But in order to help people get accurate health information and the support they need, it’s imperative that we minimise health content that is sensational or misleading.”

Two ranking updates are reducing posts with exaggerated or sensational health claims, for example ‘miracle cures’, and those attempting to sell products or services based on health-related claims. An example of the latter would be a medication or pill claiming to help with weight loss.

Facebook has identified phrases that were commonly used in these posts to predict which might include sensational health claims in order to show these lower in News Feeds.

Organic award for Scottish social enterprise

A Scottish social enterprise grocery store was crowned Best of Organic Independent Retailers at the Soil Association’s BOOM Awards earlier this year.

Locavore Grocery, in Govanhill, Glasgow, is part of a social enterprise scheme that aims to help build a more sustainable local food system.

Since it was formed in 2011, Locavore has developed a market garden, established a veg box scheme and engaged the community in thinking about issues around food, as well as opening the grocery store.

Pictured L-R are Patrick Tobin from category sponsor Marigold Health Foods; Briony Williams from Great British Bake Off; Reuben Chesters, Locavore MD; and Clare McDermott, Business Development Director at Soil Association Certification.

Winners of the Health Stores Ireland/Better Retailing Magazine Awards announced

Ireland’s independent health food retailers celebrated in style as the Health Stores Ireland/Better Retailing Magazine Retailer Awards were presented in five categories during Vitality Expo in Dublin (28-29 September 2019).

The top five health stores were named as Here’s Health, Cork (Innovation and Business Development); Blásta Wholefoods, Dungarvan (Community Engagement); Evergreen, Galway (Training & Education); The Aloe Tree, Ennistymon (Environmental Initiatives); and Organico, Bantry (Digital Marketing).

Special Commendations in each category went to Food For Life, Kilkenny, and Health Matters, Dublin and Wicklow (Innovation & Business Development); Fruit ‘N Nut Place, Portlaoise, and Only Natural, Wexford (Community Engagement); Simple Simon’s, Donegal and Solero Viva, Tipperary (Training & Education); Loop de Loop, Castletownbere and Healing Harvest, Kinvara (Environmental Initiatives); Horan’s, Tralee and Evergreen, Galway (Digital Marketing).

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Got a better idea for UK food? Tell the Government

The UK Government wants to transform the UK food system – and wants to hear from anyone who has a good idea.

Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of restaurant chain Leon and of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, has been appointed by Environment Secretary Michael Gove to lead the first major review of the UK food system in nearly 75 years.

He wants to hear from anyone who has a good idea: producers, processors, retailers, consumers, academics, policy specialists, inventors, farm labourers, factory workers, health care practitioners, charity workers, or simply interested citizens.

His team is looking for ideas big and small, from government policies to simple practical things that make a difference in the community or business. The aim is to make food production more environmentally sustainable, creating a flourishing countryside rich in wildlife and promoting the highest standards of animal health and welfare, or that puts the country at the forefront of innovation. The Government will publish a new National Food Strategy next year.

No milk today

A quarter of ‘milks’ sold is now non-dairy, according to the Waitrose Food & Drink report, with oat milk up 116%, coconut milk up 60% and almond milk up 26%.

Julie steps up her eco offering

Julie Goodwin’s Natural Health stores at Welwyn Garden City and Hertford both have a new eco department to help reduce waste and save the planet.

“We have added a new section in both shops that house some wonderful new eco products that are better for the planet and really help to reduce unnecessary waste, especially plastics,” she says.

Included in her new departments are vegan ‘leather’ bags, beeswax food wraps (handmade locally), Ecoeggs for clothes washing, glass drinking straws and straw cleaners, bamboo clothes pegs, kitchen and toilet rolls, and toothbrushes, solid vegan deodorants and toothpastes, a cleaning liquids refill station, compostable doggy poop bags, natural loofahs and brushes, plant-based packaging for nuts and seeds and handmade soaps and solid bar shampoos.

All can be packed into a special offer reusable natural cotton mesh bag modelled by Julie in our picture.

Cannabinoid reports

MACE Media Group has launched the Journal of Cannabinoid Medicine, a new platform for researchers to disseminate research findings, with the aim that people everywhere have access to the medicines they need and use them rationally.

True believers

The number of NATRUE Label Users continues to grow as the market for natural and organic cosmetics expands. As of April 2019, the NATRUE seal appeared on more than 6,200 certified natural and organic cosmetic products. And more than 270 raw materials are NATRUE certified and can be seen at the new website,

Read more news in the latest issue of Better Retailing Magazine

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