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Natural products industry gets a health check

From the HFMA Health of the Nation report

Although more people are taking food supplements than ever before, the amount spent on keeping healthy remains low.

That’s the key conclusion of the 2019 Health of the Nation survey, one of the largest of its kind, conducted by the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA).

More than 55% of UK adults have started taking supplements since the last survey in 2016, with more than a quarter starting in 2019. The figures show a rise to 69% of the adult population taking food supplements compared with 59% in 2016, 41% on a daily basis.

“The findings from this latest survey confirm what we have always known – that it is a fallacy to believe that people consider they are fundamentally healthy, or that they can maintain good health simply through their diet alone,” says HFMA Executive Director Graham Keen in his introduction.

The survey of 10,000 adults from across the UK reveals that the number of people who think they are ‘very’ or ‘quite’ healthy has reduced by a third in the last three years. This is borne out by the fact that, for every £10 of weekly household expenditure, only around 15p of this is spent on maintaining good health.

The average Brit spends just £8.82 on keeping healthy each week while, surprisingly, 45% of over-65s admit to spending no money on their health on a weekly basis. Sadly, the figures reveal that shopping for supplements at local health food stores has declined from 22% in 2016 to just 6.4% in 2019 – this drop may be attributed to Boots, Holland & Barrett and Superdrug being added to the latest survey as supermarkets also showed a decline from 53% to just under 42%.

However, health store recommendations come high on the table of reasons to buy supplements with pharmacies and health food stores accounting for over 30% of respondents behind personal research at 38%.

The survey reaffirms that the UK natural products industry remains a national success story, helping millions of people to lead healthier lives. “This looks set to continue as we see that record numbers are now taking food supplements, two in three adults expect to increase their consumption of food supplements as they get older, and more than half of parents now give food supplements to their children,” says Keen.

“The Government has rightly put prevention at the heart of its public health strategy as evidenced by the recent Green Paper ‘Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’. However, this paper has critically underplayed the vital role of supplementation in this regard, given the shortfall in micronutrient intake that the Government’s own National Diet & Nutrition Survey reveals.”

We’ll explore some of the marketing opportunities raised by this report in the Spring 2020 issue of Better Retailing Magazine.

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