The Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) has told Public Health Minister Jo Churchill that it is ‘essential that health food stores can remain open’ throughout any period of emergency measures imposed during the Covid-19 crisis.
In the letter, HFMA executive director, Graham Keen stresses the importance that health food stores are treated ‘like other essential retail services’. The same should apply to the manufacturers and wholesalers who supply them, he argues.
He writes: “The HFMA is a trade association that represents around 125 business that manufacture and supply natural health products across the UK. Our members – including major retailers like Holland & Barrett, as well as many firms who supply via smaller health stores – play a crucial role in helping to improve public health, with 69% of the adult population over 40 million consumers, now taking food supplements, over half of them on a weekly basis. That is an average of over 60,000 people in every UK constituency taking supplements.”
It is therefore essential that health food stores can remain open in order to continue to serve the needs of consumers who rely on food supplements and specialist nutritional formulae
Commenting on reports from members that health stores are currently inundated with customers stocking up on health foods, Keen adds: “It is therefore essential that health food stores can remain open in order to continue to serve the needs of consumers who rely on food supplements and specialist nutritional formulae, along with particular remedies for their negative health issues, those people with special dietary needs, and also those consumers who rely on officially recommended food supplements like vitamins AC&D for children, and folic acid in pregnancy.”
The letter conveys the HFMA’s ‘strong belief’ that the exemption to closure of supermarkets and pharmacies should also be extended to health food stores.
Also lobbying the Government is the National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) which adds: “In order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the Government may look to close retail outlets that are deemed to be ‘non-essential’. There is a real risk that health food stores will be included in these closures, despite the crucial role they play.
Health stores should take the opportunity to similarly lobby their own constituency MPs as a matter of urgency. We need you all to act now
“On your behalf, NAHS and HFMA are lobbying Government and Parliament, with the clear message that consumers rely on health food stores that provide specialist nutritional supplements to keep people healthy and address individual health issues, including boosting the immune system, and they are providing a crucial service during the Covid-19 outbreak by giving individuals continued access to essential products and supplements that help mitigate the direct and indirect effects of the virus.
“It is imperative that the Government deems health food stores, and the supply chain to them, an ‘essential service’, so that they can continue to serve their customers in this capacity throughout the coming weeks.
“Health stores should take the opportunity to similarly lobby their own constituency MPs as a matter of urgency. We need you all to act now, even if you are not NAHS members. Please contact your MPs through their email or telephone first and follow up with a letter.”