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NOPEX takes decisive stance against 'unwanted visitors'

Following feedback from exhibitors that too many companies are attending shows to sell to both exhibitors and visitors without exhibiting, Natural & Organic Products Expo (NOPEX), held at ExCeL London on 14-15 April, took decisive action which, according to the organisers, Diversified Communications, led to a significantly improved event.

The presence of companies selling their services to stand holders, who have invested significant sums in attending, and setting up camp in cafes and shared areas, has become a growing problem for organisers, with increasing numbers of exhibitors stating this as a reason for not attending trade shows and others saying they will attend as visitors instead of exhibiting.

According to Jenni Sandells, Marketing Director of NOPEX, the problem had to be addressed: "We have always had a robust process, but we recognised that further action was needed. We knew we couldn't carry on letting anyone in based on trust, with both sellers and sample collectors becoming an increasing problem. So, we took decisive action, with every single visitor vetted for relevance.

"It was a time-consuming process and resulted in a staggering 34% of registration being denied entry, via an email before the event. With the events industry so focused on numbers, it went against everything we have learned, and it was scary to see so many people being denied entry. However, it also illustrated the scale of the problem. And I'm delighted to say that, although we did see a drop of 16% in total attendance, the number of legit buyers was up, the quality was better, and our exhibitors had a much better show!"

Michelle Sadler's two decades as HFMA science supremo

Dr Michele Sadler is celebrating 20 years as Scientific Advisor to the Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA).

Martin Last, HFMA Director General comments, "Michele has been and continues to be a great asset to our work at the HFMA, bringing guidance and understanding of the scientific issues that we face in this industry. Her contribution as an expert supports us across many aspects of our activity and we are extremely grateful for her dedication and hard work over the past 20 years."

Michele says, "The 20 years I have been working with HFMA have been an enriching and rewarding experience during which many changes and developments have taken place, not least the emergence of a number of critical EU Regulations for the industry, publication of key consensus reports and important committee deliberations and, of course, Brexit. It has been gratifying to see HFMA go from strength to strength during this period - and long may this continue."

Vegfest's plea for cash

Vegfest UK founder Tim Barford has launched an impassioned appeal for cash to grow his vegan events while maintaining support for charities, independents and social enterprises such as community interest companies (CICs).

He says the crowdfunding campaign aims to bridge the 2024 deficit and ensure the continuation of VegfestUK and its positive impact into 2025 and beyond.

"Despite working hard to keep stall prices accessible for independents, charities and CICs, the financial impact of the past few years continues to be felt," he says. "We've secured sponsorships and grants, but achieving financial stability for 2024 requires additional support."

Details and video at

Veganuary's global success

Twenty-five million people took part in Veganuary this year and more than 2,000 vegan menu options were launched globally, according to YouGov surveys in the core campaign countries.

A record-breaking 300 businesses and organisations took part in the Workplace Challenge around the world, with more than 115 joining in the UK, including Salesforce, DocuSign, Claire's Accessories, numerous NHS Trusts, Just Eat Takeaway, British Association for Sustainability in Sport along with several football and rugby clubs and many more organisations.

There were more than 10,000 international media mentions of Veganuary including on the Graham Norton Show, Eastenders, BBC Winterwatch, Countdown, This Morning and Saturday Kitchen as well as features in the Guardian, Observer, Telegraph and Daily Mail.

Founders Jane Land and Matthew Glover (pictured) started Veganuary at their kitchen table in York a decade ago.

EU clamp down

The European Parliament has given the green light to a new EU law that will ban widely used environmental claims such as 'environmentally friendly', 'natural', and 'biodegradable' unless they are well supported by evidence.

The directive aims to protect consumers from misleading marketing practices and help them make better purchasing choices.

Call for health warning on ultra-processed foods

Medical doctor and broadcaster Chris van Tulleken says it is time to apply a 'tobacco control approach' to ultra-processed foods, including a mandatory requirement to display a large warning label on all UPFs.

Van Tulleken, author of the best-selling book Ultra-Processed People, is clear that the explosion of diet-related disease requires a comprehensive regulatory response and says the 'personal responsibility' argument often mounted by industry lobbyists is now "dead and buried".

How aware are we?

Ever since Shrove Tuesday was invented by Anglo-Saxons (get your sins shriven before Lent begins), and its subsequent adaption to pancake rituals, there has been a fascination with awareness days.

Well, maybe Christmas or its predecessor Saturnalia got there first.

In the US, recent nominated days have included National Brown Dog Day, National Ukelele Day, National Tater Tot Day and even Bubblegum Day.

In the UK we have some strange ones – National Sickie Day anyone? – but here are the important upcoming longer-term ones for our trade:

NOPEX announces full speaker line-up for 2024

Natural & Organic Products Expo (NOPEX) has announced its full speaker speaker line-up for its return to ExCeL London on 14-15 April. Over 50 industry experts, including senior professionals from Soil Association, Waitrose, Planet Organic, Marks & Spencer, Abel & Cole, Holland & Barrett, ScoreApp, IFOAM Organics (and others) are confirmed.

This free-to-attend programme will cover relevant topics such as Net Zero, inclusivity, sustainable retail, organic farming, vegan shopping, global product trends, and much more. As well as keynotes, attendees can look forward to engaging with some of the industry's most influential names and discussing cutting-edge topics in a range of panel sessions.

For more information and to view the full schedule, please visit:

Read our preview of NOPEX 2024 here.

New Natural Business, along with sister publications Your Healthy Living and Rude Health Magazine, will be on Stand A68.

Mary Portas

Three-in-one Natural Products pulls in the big names

Natural & Organic Products Expo, this year rebranded into three shows, has wooed two stars of retailing as keynote speakers.

Mary Portas OBE, renowned retail expert, broadcaster, author and activist, will headline at NOPEX on 14-15 April at ExCeL London.

And Renée Elliott, founder of Planet Organic and co-founder of Women Tree, will share her story of founding, fighting for, growing and losing Planet Organic, plus the miraculous turn of fate that brought it back to her.

The show has always covered health and nutrition, natural and organic food and natural beauty as separate sectors under the Natural & Organic Products Europe umbrella. But this year three distinct shows each with its own brand identity will be co-located at ExCel: Natural Food Expo, Natural Beauty Expo and Natural & Organic Products Expo.

Read the full story here...

Queen of Shops is centre stage at NOPEX

Mary Portas OBE, renowned retail expert, broadcaster, author and activist, will headline at Natural & Organic Products Expo on 14-15 April at ExCeL London.

Known as the 'Queen of Shops', Mary Portas is a highly influential figure in the retail world with decades of experience and a successful track record rebuilding businesses. After transforming Harvey Nichols, Mary founded her retail consultancy, working with some of the biggest names in global retail.

Her series, Mary Queen of Shops, premiered in 2007 and she's presented for BBC and Channel 4 ever since, becoming a trusted advisor for numerous brands – including many exhibitors at Natural & Organic Products Expo.

Mary Portas comments: "Our High Streets lie at the heart of our economy and are the lifelines for our communities, playing a role in people's wellbeing and sense of identity. Although they are experiencing unprecedented challenges the opportunities are huge. I look forward to sharing my insights and to answering your questions in front of this important audience at NOPEX in April."

To register for a free trade ticket, visit

The best of Ireland's health food retailers celebrate in the 2024 Awards

Eighteen awards in seven categories were handed to Ireland's natural health retailers at the 'Putting Our Best Foot Forward' event in Shannon, County Clare, on January 28th.

The day was focused on networking, panel discussions and sectoral awards, with 40 trade exhibitors and 100 retailer participants representing more than 60 health food shops.

The return of the annual Health Stores Ireland / New Natural Business retailer awards was the centrepiece of the day with retailers picking up prizes under a range of categories, receiving due recognition for their resilience and innovation in challenging times.

Read the full story here...

NOPEX now open for registration

Natural & Organic Products Expo (NOPEX) has opened visitor registration for its 2024 edition, which returns to ExCeL London on 14-15 April.

Since 1997, Natural & Organic Products Europe has been the place where distributors, retailers, wholesalers, importers and exporters meet to source the best natural, organic, planet-based, free-from and sustainable products for their customers. It also provides a world-class keynote programme full of the most important topics, trends, and inspiration for the industry.

In the upcoming edition, Natural & Organic Products Expo (NOPEX) is set to offer a more extensive range of features than in previous years. Anticipate celebrity keynote speakers, a vibrant festival-style atmosphere, the introduction of a VIP and influencer program, along with the addition of two fresh Launchpad Zones.

Read the full story here...

Social enterprise supermarket HISBE in voluntary liquidation

Pioneering alternative supermarket HISBE (How It Should Be) has gone into voluntary liquidation. The retailer, which operated as a social enterprise, closed its two stores in Brighton and Worthing in January as it tried to find ways to secure new funding.

In a February 2 post on Facebook, HISBEFood said:

"It's with great sadness that we announce the very painful decision to declare #HISBE insolvent and take the company into voluntary liquidation.

"Since the final tranche of our recovery funding fell through, we have explored all avenues to raise the investment we need to re-open the stores, but HISBE is carrying too much debt from the last four years for funders to put new money in.

"We were following a strategic turnaround plan and slowly trading our way back, but ultimately could not weather the cumulative impacts of covid, inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.

"We'd like to respond to the love and concern that customers and supporters have expressed for our people - the staff, suppliers and founders. Firstly, the staff who worked hard to take care of the stores and maintain a friendly community vibe for customers, despite the extra pressures. We are so grateful for their commitment and for supporting their managers, who did their very best to run the stores with stretched resources and tough targets.

"Everyone was made redundant and paid out for their shifts and holiday in Dec/Jan. Their notice pay will be looked after via the proper channels as we go through the administration process.

"Regarding the 135 local/independent HISBE suppliers, many of whom we have 10-year-old relationships with, we built a beautiful and simple business model with them. HISBE customers put £15 million through our tills, and we passed £10 million back into suppliers' pockets. However, sadly but inevitably the closure of HISBE leaves many with unpaid invoices that we were expecting to clear in January. It's creating enormous personal and financial stress for some of them and we are sad and sorry that it has come to this."

HISBE was founded in 2010 by sisters Ruth and Amy Anslow.

Frank discussion at Health Stores UK forum

The first in a new series of Health Store Mastermind Forums took place earlier this month, generating a lively, interactive discussion on a range of retailing issues.

Around 30 retailers took part in the first of the informal 'drop in' Zoom sessions, co-hosted by Health Stores UK and Cheryl Thallon, owner of Viridian Nutrition and Daventry-based Sheaf Street Health Store.

Designed to be a friendly meeting place, where stores help each other solve tricky business issues and share opportunities and inspiration, the first Forum covered a wide range of issues that "keep retailers up at night" – from running costs to out of date stock, cash flow to business insurance. Talking through these challenges enabled the group to share tips, practical advice and specialist knowledge with each other.

Look out for dates of future Health Store Mastermind Forums on the Health Stores UK website ( The sessions are free to Health Store UK members and £15 for non-members (redeemable against membership if a store joins within 90 days).

Source: Natural Newsdesk

Save £115 on staff training

The Health Food Institute is offering a massive reduction on its courses in a bid to raise standards in the retail sector.

Diploma Part One is on offer at the special price of £80 – a saving of £115 – with Diploma Part Two at half price until the end of December.

All retailers who enrol a member of staff on an HFI course will continue to be included in the HFI's Sample Box Scheme and will receive a selection of product samples four times a year.

In its 44-year history, the HFI has delivered high quality training for health food retailers and their staff but a difficult trading period has led to a drop-off in the number of students seeking higher professional standards.

Enrol now at while the offer is on the table.

Inflationary pain

UK inflation fell in October as energy prices and food inflation eased, with headline inflation dropping to 4.7% from 6.3%. But although food and non-alcoholic drinks dropped a percentage point compared with September, the annual inflation rate for food stands at 10.1%. The rate has declined every month since March.

When the going gets tough...

According to Small Business Britain's SME barometer survey, a third of owners think running a business has become harder in the last year but 70% say the challenges of the past three years have made them more resilient. Half see rising costs as their biggest challenge in the next six months and 57% have been hampered by cashflow challenges. See what a cross section of health food independents are thinking, here.

Shoplifting and abuse

A surge in retail crime has been negatively impacting independent shops across sectors and locations over the past 12 months.

The British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) surveyed its members to grasp a snapshot of how stores have been hit by the crimewave.

The survey showed that 40% of shop owners or staff had experienced verbal abuse, while 6.5% had come up against physical harm from customers in the past year. Of those physically abused, 82% decided to not report it to police, while those that did said it didn't lead to prosecution (18%).

The results also showed that 70% of those who had experienced verbal abuse said it has got worse in the last 12 months compared to the previous year, while 50% of those who suffered physical abuse said it had worsened.

Police, retailers and Government representatives have jointly set out further measures to tackle the rise in shoplifting, catch more prolific offenders and keep retail workers safe.

The plan includes a police commitment to prioritise urgently attending the scene of shoplifting instances involving violence against a shop worker, where security guards have detained an offender or where attendance is needed to secure evidence.

In 2014, a new law said anyone charged with the theft of items under £200 did not need to attend court. Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the party would ditch the £200 rule on shoplifting to clamp down on crime.

Ultra-processed food ‘should be labelled addictive'

Ultra-processed foods (UPFs) can be as addictive as nicotine or alcohol, according to researchers writing in the BMJ.

Their wide-ranging analysis of studies from 36 different countries shows that UPF addiction appeared to occur in 14% of adults and 12% of children.

"Refined carbohydrates or fats evoke similar levels of extracellular dopamine in the brain striatum to those seen with addictive substances such as nicotine and alcohol," they said.

Their scathing report called for UPFs to be labelled as "addictive substances".

Many UPFs contain an equal combination of sugar and fat, a ratio rarely found in natural whole foods. This sends a happy message to the brain and keeps them coming back for more, giving rise to the term "Comfort Food".

The researchers gave the example of an apple, salmon and a chocolate bar. The apple has a carbohydrate to fat ratio of 1:0, while the salmon has a ratio of 0:1. The chocolate bar, however, has a carbohydrate to fat ratio of 1:1, which appears to increase a food's addictive potential.

Degrading the physical structure of foods through industrial processes can also make them more addictive as they are lower in fibre and sugars and fats are delivered more quickly to the gut, sending a different message to the brain.

'Supermarket Rebel' HISBE pauses trading

Pioneering alternative supermarket HISBE (How It Should Be) has paused trading amid ongoing funding challenges.

The retailer, which operates as a social enterprise, says it has closed its two stores in Brighton and Worthing as it tries to find ways to secure new funding.

In a statement HISBE thanked supporters and customers and said it had been "inundated with emails and messages".

Posting on social media, the retailer said: "Following a painful four-year battle through covid and the cost-of-living crisis we had a disappointing Christmas trading period and our recovery funding hasn't come through. So we have paused trading because it's the responsible thing to do in our circumstances. HISBE owes money to staff, suppliers and lenders and we are exploring all options to raise funds to pay our creditors. We hope this is a temporary closure and we can find a way for this social enterprise to go forward and continue its important work. But it will take some time to figure out."

HISBE described its predicament as "daunting" but recognised that hundreds of other local small businesses face similar stresses. They said: "Solidarity to all of you out there going through this. After 13 years, this is our hardest challenge yet."

HISBE was founded in 2010 by sisters Ruth and Amy Anslow.

Source: Natural Newsdesk

Three-in-one Natural Products rebrand

Natural & Organic Products Expo has been rebranded into three shows for April 2024.

The show has always covered health and nutrition, natural and organic food and natural beauty as separate sectors under the Natural & Organic Products Europe umbrella.

Next year, three distinct shows, each with its own brand identity, will be co-located under Natural & Organic Products Expo at London's ExCel: Natural Food Expo, Natural Beauty Expo and Natural & Organic Products Expo.

Read the full story here...

Health Stores Ireland/New Natural Business Retailer Awards 2024

Health Stores Ireland has announced its annual retailer awards for 2024 in partnership with New Natural Business.

Irish health store retailers will be eligible for awards in seven categories, with a winner and two finalists in each category:

The awards will be presented at the ‘Putting Our Best Foot Forward Again’ event to be held in Shannon, County Clare on January 28th. Read more about the event here.

Farm Shop & Deli Product Awards 2024 open for entries

Now returning for a third year, the Farm Shop & Deli Show has launched the Farm Shop & Deli Product Awards 2024 in partnership with The Grocer.

The Awards celebrate the best products across the specialist food & drink sector and are supported and judged by leading farm shop & deli retailers, top wholesaler buyers and owners and industry experts. The awards are open only to products that are sold in farm shops, delis and specialist food retailers.

Categories include Beverages, Chilled & Frozen Desserts, Chilled Deli, Condiments & Sauces, Fermented & Smoked Foods, Meat, Non-Food, Plant-Based, Preserves, Savoury Biscuits & Snacks and Sweet Bakery & Confectionery.

Judging will take place prior to the Farm Shop & Deli Show, part of the UK Food & Drink Shows (29 April – 1 May 2024, NEC Birmingham) to allow winners the maximum opportunity to promote their achievements in the lead up to the exhibition.

Entries are submitted via the Farm Shop & Deli Product Awards website - - and close on January 19th 2024.

Health Stores Ireland's Big Bash is back

The Irish health food industry is to return to Shannon next January, the scene of an amazing Best Foot Forward event earlier this year that included the much-loved Retailer Awards sponsored by New Natural Business.

The return event, called 'Putting Our Best Foot Forward Again', takes place at Treacys Oakwood Hotel, Shannon, Co. Clare on January 28th and will feature new discussion topics, new exhibitors, awards and new speakers.

To book your place, contact Health Stores Ireland, [email protected].

Find out more here...

Home Office announcement on legal framework for CBD products

The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) has responded to this week's Home Office announcement accepting expert advice to create the UK's first legal framework for consumer CBD products that contain controlled cannabinoids.

The government proposals follow an ACI campaign in the summer urging the Home Office to update the law to allow the market for CBD products to grow. Then Minister of State for Crime and Policing Kit Malthouse had already acknowledged the need for legal clarification in 2021.

He pointed out there was no legal framework in place specifically exempting CBD products from control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and the Government wished to explore the possibility of creating a specific exemption for CBD products which contain no more than a defined trace percentage of controlled cannabinoids.

The ACI will work with the Home Office to address the ambiguities and areas of clarification in the Ministerial response.

Meanwhile, both the ACI and the Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA) are seeking clarification on the process and practical implications in the Food Standards Agency's recently updated consumer advice for acceptable daily intake for CBD.

The guidance now sets the provisional ADI at 10mg a day, with the departure from the previous recommendation of 70mg a day causing anxiety among brands, manufacturers, retailers and the public.

Health Stores UK helps indie retailers 'Take on Goliath'

Health Stores UK is partnering with small business mentoring specialist Take on Goliath to help members grow their business and compete more confidently with bigger high street and online rivals.

Take on Goliath is led by respected business mentor and coach, Dave Christie. Specialising in family-run and independent businesses, he also has a wide knowledge of the independent health food retail scene and experience with leading natural products brands and wholesalers.

As part of Take on Goliath's new role as a Health Stores UK Partner, Christie will be hosting a free monthly online workshop exclusively for members. He explains: "This regular online format means that lots of different stores will be able to get involved. I'll be working closely with retailers to create a programme of topics they would like covered - it's very much their call. But likely themes will include how Indies can maximise opportunities for working with brands and how stores can attract new customers. We'll also be covering some more generalised business advice, where we’ll draw on the experiences and learnings of the whole group, utilising that knowledge and passing it on for the benefit of other members".

Take on Goliath will also be offering 1-2-1 sessions with Health Stores UK members at a generous 60% discount on its normal rates. These sessions start by gaining a 'state of the nation' picture of the business, then work towards developing a tailored strategy of actions to improve performance across the whole business. Using a personal 'accountability calendar', store owners are then asked to chart actions they have implemented and measure improvements.

Health Stores UK chair, Len Glenville, said: "With Dave's business mentoring background and wide knowledge of health food retailing, we think Take on Goliath is great fit for us as a Health Stores UK Partner. We look forward to working with Dave, and share his vision of a confident and stronger independent health store sector."

Clearspring MD Maria Dawson is holding the baby while cooking up a Clearspring dish.

Help where it's needed

Japanese and organic fine foods specialist Clearspring is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and has teamed up with long-term partner, plant-based community cookery school and food charity Made In Hackney, to donate 30,000 free plant-based meals to communities in need.

Made in Hackney, celebrating its own 10th anniversary, will work with family-run Clearspring to donate products and cooked meals to families and individuals with emergency support needs.

Small supplier opportunity

Loss-making Wholefoods Market, which has seven stores in London where sales have dipped almost 3% to £91.6m, has just announced a new supplier process to give all potential and existing suppliers the same opportunity to get their products stocked. It is hoped this will provide small, emerging and new brands, which can register on the supplier portal, a better opportunity.

Pause for thought

Food For Thought has closed its Kingston shop following the end of a 10-year lease. The two stores at Guildford and Kew continue.

See our How to Survive feature with Food For Thought here...

Fond memories

Viridian founder Cheryl Thallon says the company will honour the memory of her husband Shaun Higgs, who died this year, by continuing to sponsor the Daventry Triathlon and naming a special award after him. "Shaun was an Ironman distance triathlete," she said. "Viridian will always honour his memory by sponsoring this event that was so close to his heart."

Fashionable Weleda

Weleda UK went back to its Bloomsbury roots for London Fashion Week with a Skin Food Pop Up at 34 Bloomsbury Street, hosting media, influencers and make-up artists. The pop-up featured Weleda's iconic Skin Food range which has become a backstage beauty staple, with over 400 British make-up artists keeping Weleda Skin Food Original in their kit.

Peter Aldis (1964-2023)

Holland & Barrett’s former CEO, Peter Aldis, has passed away at the age of 59.

He was CEO of H&B for 11 years at the latter end of 29 years with the retailer. In this time he helped NBTY sell the business to Carlyle in 2010 for £490m and subsequently helped Carlyle sell it on to Letter One for £1.8bn in 2017.

Following his time with H&B, he ran a consultancy service offering advice and direction for companies in the health and wellness sector from 2020.

He was also CEO of Equilibrium Labs from 2021 and Board Advisor to Vitamin Angels from 2022.

Before H&B, he worked in store management first for Currys and then Asda before joining H&B as Area Sales Manager in 1990.

He was also a director at Leicester Tigers RFC between 2016 and 2020 when Holland & Barrett was the club's sponsor.

Open Sesame's Leroy Smith elected new Chairperson of Health Stores Ireland

Leroy Smith of Open Sesame in Ennis and Gort has been elected the new council Chair of Health Stores Ireland.

He takes over from Martha Brennan who had served in the role for five years.

Health Stores Ireland held a well-attended AGM in Cork in May, where they were joined by supplier partners for a business lunch. A council of eight ordinary members is installed for the year ahead and at their first meeting a Chair is elected.

Outgoing Chairperson, Martha Brennan, was thanked by council members for the work that she oversaw over the previous five years, which includes a full rebrand of the organisation, a successful national campaign to reduce the VAT on vitamins, two successful consumer shows, several trade events culminating in a successful sectoral symposium in January, TV and radio advertising campaigns and a unique Touring Map print project along with steering the organisation through Brexit, Covid and subsequent supply-chain issues.

Martha said, "While it was often challenging and time consuming, it ultimately brought a sense of satisfaction to bring projects through to a successful conclusion. I am delighted to be handing over the reins to such a capable and dynamic individual in Leroy".

New Chairperson, Leroy Smith, said, "If I can achieve even half of what Martha has during her time as chair, I will be doing well. I look forward to the role and working with the administrator, members, council, and company directors to steer the organisation for the year ahead".

Boots and Smiths closures 'could present a high street opportunity'

The British Independent Retailers Association believes that a decision by WH Smith and Boots to close a number of stores could present independents with a chance to revitalise the high street.

Bira, which works with over 6,000 independent businesses of all sizes across the UK, including Health Stores UK, commented on news that Boots plans to close 300 stores while WHSmith has decided to shift its focus away from the high street and concentrate on airports and non-high street locations.

Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre said that while the strategic move makes sense for these companies, it also raises an important question about the future of retail on the high street.

Read the full story here...

HFMA Awards for Gwyneth Massey and Suzie Sawyer

The Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA) has awarded Gwyneth Massey (pictured above, left) as the winner of this year's Maurice Hanssen Award of Honour. The award was presented at the HFMA's Annual General Meeting (AGM) in June in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding contribution to the natural health industry.

Gwyneth is a Chartered Biologist and a Member of the Royal Society of Biology. Having graduated from University College, Cardiff with an honours degree in Biochemistry, she spent several years as a Biochemist at the Royal Free Hospital, London researching into various aspects of Haemophilia. For the last 30 years she has been a Code Administrator with the HFMA providing comprehensive advice on all aspects of the labelling and advertising of food, food supplements, cosmetic and medicinal products within the UK.

Speaking of Gwyneth's contribution to the industry, Steve Mann, HFMA's Chair, commented "There is perhaps nobody in our industry who has provided as much help and guidance to as many individuals, organisations and HFMA members as Gwyneth Massey. Gwyneth's in depth-knowledge and understanding of the complexities of labelling and advertising requirements are unsurpassed, and throughout her 30 plus year career with the Association, Gwyneth has utilised her expertise to the benefit of HFMA members on a daily basis – her overall contribution is simply beyond measure."

Suzie Sawyer, Nutritionist and writer, (pictured above, right) was announced at the HFMA's AGM as the winner of this year's Health Journalist of the Year Award. The award recognises the best of journalism and writing covering the natural health industry. This prestigious accolade is awarded on behalf of the HFMA members, recognising and acknowledging forward-thinking and progressive writing within the field of natural health.

Esther Mills-Roberts, the HFMA's Director of Communications, said "We are delighted to honour Suzie with this award, given in recognition of the part she has played, over the years, in providing consumers with nutrition information that is trusted, reliable and accurate. We know that when Suzie's features, interviews or talks appear, that they will be full of solid, sound advice. This is why Suzie was chosen as an expert advisor for the HFMA, and why she was selected to front a number of the HFMA's consumer campaigns in 2022. A very deserved recipient".

Record losses as inflation hits Whole Foods

The UK arm of Amazon-owned Whole Foods slumped to a record loss last year following inflationary price increases, according to a report in Grocery Gazette.

The organic supermarket chain turned in a pre-tax loss of more than £26m from £91.6m sales at its seven London stores.

Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13.7bn in 2017 and since then its UK operations have failed to move into profit with cumulative pre-tax losses totalling £70m.

New health food distributor’s acquisition ahead of launch

Dundeis, the new health food distributor started by former Tree of Life employees, has acquired Welsh wholesaler Minton’s Good Foods ahead of a full launch later this year.

Launched at NOPEX in April, Dundeis is backed by Irish investment group Cottagequinn Enterprises.

As reported in The Grocer, the acquisition gives the new group control of its own pre-packed foods range of nuts, dried fruit, seeds, cereals and pulses, all essential in the natural food channel.

Dundeis aims to develop Minton’s site in Llandridnod Wells alongside the existing management team, according to a statement.

Former Tree of Life commercial director Miker Kilcourse is Stoke-based Dundeis MD.

Renée Elliott seeks to ‘rebuild supplier trust’ following Planet Organic rescue

Renée Elliott, the original founder of Planet Organic who was behind the chain’s rescue deal in April, has pledged to return the business to its core values.

Ten of Planet Organic’s 14 stores were saved in a rescue deal by Bioren Limited, an investment vehicle backed by Elliott and her husband Brian, but more than 400 unsecured creditors are expected to lose out with more than £8m owed by the collapsed business.

Elliott told The Grocer: “It would be good if everyone understands that we didn’t buy the company, we bought the assets from the administrator.”

Former CEO Peter Marsh and ex-buying director Al Overton have returned to support Elliott in her vision to rebuild supplier trust by returning to the original model of using third-party wholesalers to supply the business.

Planet had brought distribution in-house and opened a warehouse in Sunbury-on-Thames, a cost burden which contributed to its financial difficulties.

Elliott confirmed the warehouse would close and the new business was working with CLF, Wholegood and Langridge Organic to fulfil orders.

“When I started Planet it was all about values, and it is about going back to those values,” Elliott told The Grocer.

Bioren paid £810k to close the deal, including £330k for goodwill and IP, £330k for stock and £150k for equipment and fixtures and fittings at the store base.

The deal saved 263 jobs with around 60 staff made redundant.

Health Stores UK unveils new look website

Health Stores UK has completely redesigned its website. The new look site went live just ahead of this year's Natural & Organic Products Europe event in London.

Health Stores UK chair, Len Glenville, said: "The new site (which can be found at is the last piece in the jigsaw of our transition from the NAHS to Health Stores UK. It has a clean, contemporary look and brings together a fantastic set of resources for our members along with the latest industry news, trade and legislative updates. It's also where to go to find out about Health Stores UK's growing offering of networking opportunities. And you can access a whole range of valuable marketing tools straight from the site. We're looking forward to adding some new video content and virtual 'store tours' in the coming months, making the site even more engaging and interactive.

"We think the new website gives us a great new platform to communicate to members, the wider industry, policy makers and opinion formers. It's also the perfect complement to our consumer-facing HealthyDoesIt site. We hope you'll find it both useful and enjoyable. Take a look around, and let us know what you think!".

Visitors to the site can download a digital copy of Cheryl Thallon's new book How to Start & Run A Successful Health Store. The digital edition is free to Health Stores UK members (via the Members' Area), but is available for £25 to all others.

Ireland’s health food retailers celebrate their 2023 awards

Twenty-two of Ireland’s natural health retailers were handed awards in seven categories at the inaugural ‘Putting Our Best Foot Forward’ event in Shannon, County Clare, earlier this year.

The day was focused on networking, panel discussions and sectoral awards, with 40 trade exhibitors and over 60 retailer participants representing more than 70 health food shops.

Read the full story here...

Two new wholesalers

Irish investor Cottagequinn Enterprises is backing a group of former Tree of Life employees to form a new health food wholesaler in the UK, according to a report in The Grocer.

The new venture is said to be launching at Natural & Organic Products Europe this month with no involvement from shareholders of Tree of Life’s former holding company Health Made Easy, which collapsed into administration last year.

Meanwhile, NOPEX will also see a soft launch of a familiar name in wholesaling. The Goodness Foods brand has been acquired by international food company Aytac Foods and is understood to be working with former managers at The Health Store, which was also part of Health Made Easy’s demise.

Aytac has warehousing and distribution centres in Manchester and London.

Badge of honour

Health Stores UK is urging specialist natural and organic brands to signal clearly in their advertising when products are available in independent health stores. The trade association has created a series of badges featuring the phrase ‘Available From Independent Health Stores’ that brands can use in their consumer and trade ad campaigns.

Save the Health Food Institute

Founded in 1979, the Health Food Institute is struggling in the aftermath of the pandemic.

It has more than halved the cost of its training courses to help retailers benefit from improved staff knowledge in tough economic times.

And it has called off its famed annual lecture, lunch and awards event for this year.

“The last three years have severely depleted funds, firstly due to Covid and secondly because of the financial pressure on retailers with energy costs and a decreased footfall through the doors of health stores,” said Founder and Secretary Ray Hill.

This has in turn depleted new course enrolments, hence the reduced price.

“As well as this, manufacturers and suppliers, who we would normally rely on to sponsor an event, are also experiencing unprecedented financial pressure, with many unable to commit to sponsorship in these uncertain times,” he added.

“We are extremely grateful, however, to the health food industry press for their help in promoting and honouring the achievements of the worthy recipients of the HFI’s annual training awards. This year’s winners will be announced in the summer.”

Pledge your support by calling 0115 9234 534 or emailing [email protected]

Ireland’s rude favourite

Our sister magazine Rude Health polled readers to find out who was their favourite health store staff member. Turns out that Emma Murphy from Only Natural in Wexford triumphed in the Pat Curran Award for Customer Service 2022, collecting €500 for herself and €500 for the store. She’s pictured with owner Gerald Colfer.

Planet Organic founders step in to rescue 10 stores

Ten of Planet Organic’s 14 stores have been saved in a rescue deal by Bioren Limited whose shareholders include original Planet founders Renee and Brian Elliott.

The deal includes most of the London stores but others in Henley-on-Thames, Bermondsey, Teddington and Tottenham Court Road will shut immediately.

The sale came immediately after the loss-making supermarket chain appointed joint administrators from Interpath Advisory on Tuesday.

It is known as a pre-pack administration deal, a contentious process where a sale is agreed before administrators are appointed, then completed immediately after.

It saves 194 jobs in the rescued stores and 71 in the head office. The closures will result in 64 staff members being made redundant, the administrators said.

“We know that the new owners have exciting plans for the business and we wish them the very best for the future and look forward to seeing the business go from strength to strength,” said Interpath’s Gareth Slater.

Private equity firm Inverleith previously had a stake in Planet Organic. Other bidders looking at taking over the business included Waitrose, Sainsbury and Holland & Barrett.

How to Open & Run a Successful Health Store

A new book, How to Open and Run a Successful Health Store, is launched at NOPEX on April 16. It’s a collaboration between Health Stores UK and committee member Cheryl Thallon.

Described as "a love letter to the valiant army of health food store owners and their staff, and to those who want to join their ranks”, this practical guide offers 200+ pages packed with powerful take-homes for new and established independent health stores to help generate footfall and boost turnover.

Read the full story here...

BOOM time

Nominations for the organic star category of the 2023 BOOM Awards, hosted by Soil Association Certification in partnership with Huboo, are open at, closing on April 14 with voting throughout May.

Planet Organic on the brink

Planet Organic, which has 14 stores in or near London, filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators at the end of March.

Immediately prior to that, proposed investment by Waitrose in return for a stake was called off with suppliers subsequently reporting a temporary suspension of orders.

Sky News quoted City sources saying Planet Organic, which employs 360 staff, requires a multi-million pound capital injection by the middle of April in order to survive. The chain has been chasing fresh investment while trying to improve margins.

Natural & Organic Products Europe returns to London

The industry is preparing their visit to Natural & Organic Products Europe – the unmissable trade event for natural, organic and sustainable products.

Returning to London ExCeL on 16-17 April, the show will connect thousands of brands with retailers, buyers, wholesalers and distributors across Europe. It's a chance to reconnect and discover the latest food, drink and health innovations across five exciting areas: Natural Food, Natural Health, Natural Beauty & Spa, Eco-Living and Vegan World.

Now with consumers thinking more about their health (and the planet) than ever before, the focus this year is reiterating the importance of high-quality products, the impact food systems have on the environment, and how the industry can come together to promote sustainability to their customers.

Read the full story here....

Register to visit the show here....

New Natural Business will be at the show - come and see us on stand G80.

HFMA announces leadership change

The Health Food Manufacturers’ Association is announcing a change to its leadership as part of a wider succession plan announced at its AGM in June 2022.

Current Executive Director Graham Keen will stand down at the end of June after serving in the role for 15 years. During that time Graham has served with distinction, representing HFMA members’ interests with passion and determination.

The new Executive Director from 1st July will be Martin Last. Martin will initially join the HFMA as its Executive Director (Designate) on 3rd April, and there will be a handover period from Graham to Martin for three months.

Martin is well known to the HFMA’s member companies and has been closely associated with the HFMA for over 25 years as a member company and as a long-standing and committed member of the HFMA Council. He has served as HFMA Chair and Vice-Chair, and he is an active member on various HFMA sub-committees, such as the Technical Committee, Political Engagement Committee and PR Committee. Martin also represents HFMA at its European federation, EHPM, and is currently the EHPM Vice President and is also chair of the Quality, Technical and Regulatory Work Group, and is part of EHPM’s Probiotic and Novel Foods Task Forces.

HFMA Executive Director Graham Keen said, “The time has come for me to take things a little easier, and my primary concern has been to leave the HFMA and the interests of all its members in safe hands. Martin brings fantastic experience to the role and like me completely understands the importance and great value of the work that the HFMA undertakes.”

Martin Last commented, “I have always been strongly committed to our industry and I am really looking forward to stepping up to this new role with all the challenges it will bring. Graham has clearly done an excellent job in enhancing the standing and reputation of the HFMA and I intend to carry on this work, in association with the HFMA team, and to best promote the values and initiatives for our members and our industry for the future.”

Best Foot Forward... into 2023 and beyond

There was a welcome and enthusiastic return to in-person events and networking for the Irish health food sector on January 29th.

Retailers, suppliers, and partners gathered in the west of Ireland for their inaugural Putting Our Best Foot Forward sectoral summit in Shannon, County Clare. The day was focused on networking, panel discussions and sectoral awards, with 40 trade exhibitors and over 60 retailer participants representing more than 70 shops.

The winners of this year's Health Stores Ireland/New Natural Business Retailer Awards were announced at the event.

International Retail Consultant Tim Radley, author of VM-Unleashed, set the tone for the event with a positive message for independents of a noted decline in pureplay online retail in favour of bricks and mortar specialists. Authenticity and co-operation in a passionate supply chain will be the key dynamics for a successful retail future, he said.

Health Stores Ireland Chair Martha Brennan said: "I have to say that I have come away from Shannon with a renewed sense of purpose and optimism for what we do," and she complimented the organising team and venue for pulling together a successful show.

Alan Martin from Wholefoods Ltd said that he found the atmosphere was "very laid back, positive, business-like and effective".

Kirsty O'Riordan, from Independent Irish Health Foods, commented that it was a great day and they were delighted to be part of it and to meet so many "lovely people" in person.

Shop Talk for health store retailers

The next Health Stores UK 'Shop Talk' online chat show for health store retailers takes place on February 8 at 6pm.

This one's titled 'Banishing Winter Blues and Increasing Energy and Vitality', hosted by retailers Vicki Perks and Joanne Hill with special guest presenter Orley Moyal, Training & Education Manager for BioNature-Terranova.

Retailers can register for the talk here.

French liberation from probiotic restriction may be good news for the UK

An official move in France to allow the term 'probiotic' to be used on food supplement packaging, as long as products meet certain conditions, has been welcomed by the Health Food Manufacturers' Association which has been campaigning for the same authorisation in the UK.

H&B promises to improve its payment record

Holland & Barrett has promised to improve supplier relations amid growing protests from small suppliers over late payments, according to a report in The Grocer.

With some payments extending past 120 days and government data showing the business paid almost 60% of invoices outside its agreed terms, H&B says a debt deal by its owners LetterOne, which has been plagued by challenges linked to its sanction-hit Russian investors, would ease payment assurances.

The Grocer revealed LetterOne had completed a deal to buy back more than £700m of debt enabling Holland & Barrett to tell suppliers the group was debt-free and would embark on a “transformation programme”.

The publication also revealed that “dozens” of SMEs have complained of repeated late payment by H&B, putting pressure on already strained cashflows and stretching resources while chasing invoices.

Government payment data filed by H&B this month showed that 58% of the retailer’s invoices were not paid within agreed terms in the six months to the end of September this year, compared with 32% in the previous six months. H&B took an average of 63 days to pay invoices, with 20% paid within 30 days, 43% in 31 to 60 days and 37% in 61 days or more, the data revealed. Most small brands are on 90-day payment terms with H&B.

Small Business Commissioner (SBC) Liz Barclay is seeking a meeting with H&B to discuss payment practices in detail.

In September, reports emerged that LetterOne was planning to buy back almost £900m in debt used to finance the £1.7bn takeover H&B in 2017, offering to acquire outstanding borrowings from lenders. At the time, H&B operated from about 800 stores in the UK with hundreds more overseas.

Companies House accounts reveal UK sales dropped 1.8% to £528.6m in the year to September 2021 as it closed 24 stores during the pandemic.

Teamwork the way ahead for UK health stores

Only by presenting a united front and addressing health solutions direct to consumers can the natural products retail sector thrive in the worst economic conditions ever faced by the industry.

That’s the view of Joanne Hill, owner of Amaranth Wellbeing in Cheshire and Health Stores UK committee member, commenting as the National Association of Health Stores repositioned itself.

“We know that there are challenges in the industry at the moment but working together, sharing ideas and reaching new customers is the best way for us all to thrive in the industry we are all so passionate about,” she says.

Rebranding of the NAHS was a logical step as the 91-year-old organisation sought to modernise at the same time as taking over the HealthyDoesIt consumer health initiative launched during lockdown to support health store retailers.

HSUK Deputy Chair Mel Beard added: “We hope that the bold changes we are making will reinvigorate the Association, inspire more retailers to join us and create a more powerful voice for independent natural products retailers.”

Health Stores UK responds to Chancellor's Autumn Statement

Health Stores UK broadly welcomes measures taken by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement to offer continued relief on business rates. But the association wants the Government to step up efforts to curb inflation and restore consumer confidence.

Health Stores UK chair, Len Glenville said: “Whilst we are happy that the new Prime Minister and Chancellor have stuck to their pledge to help with business rates, small retailers, who have worked incredibly hard over the past few years to support their customers, need more certainty around consumer confidence and the Energy Price Guarantee for businesses.

“Whilst we welcome the National Living Wage increase from next year, small retailers will find it incredibly difficult to absorb that extra cost, along with record energy prices – even with assistance on business rates. The Chancellor must do everything in his power to reduce inflation, which will in turn increase consumer confidence and lower prices.”

Fruit & veg heroes to the rescue in pilot scheme

An innovative pilot, thought to be the UK’s first large-scale ‘Fruit & Veg on Prescription’ project, has been launched to help tackle health inequality and food poverty.

Alexandra Rose Charity, in partnership with public health teams in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Lambeth, launched the scheme as part of a £250,000 pilot funded by local authorities and a charitable foundation.

The projects will be delivered in partnership with the Bromley by Bow Centre in Tower Hamlets, one of the earliest pioneers of social prescribing, and by The Beacon Project in Lambeth.

Read the full story here...

Irish health foods set for growth?

The acquisition of Independent Irish Health Foods (IIHF), owner of the True Natural Goodness brand, by Bellingham Capital sets the business up for expansion, according to its founders.

The Co Cork-headquartered company is a distributor and wholesaler of health foods and related products to more than 1,000 customers in Ireland and continental Europe.

“We look forward to working with [Bellingham] as we look to position IIHF for further growth on both the Irish and international markets,” said co-founders Richard Wilkins and Henry Bartlett in a statement.

BOOM in 2023

Soil Association Certification opened the Best of Organic Market Awards 2023 to entries from November 1st. The BOOMs honour the brands, businesses and people behind the UK’s organic industry and entry is open to all certified organic businesses until December 1st. Entry is free to certified businesses with a turnover under £250,000. [email protected]

New at Soil Association

Soil Association Certification has appointed Alex Cullen as its new Commercial and Marketing Director. She joins the organic certification business from NHS Blood and Transplant where she was Head of Marketing. Before that she was Head of Marketing at Marks & Spencer.

Health Stores Ireland/New Natural Business Retailer Awards 2023

Pictured: Joyful winners from pre-pandemic days

Let’s face it, Ireland knows how to throw a party. And health food retailers in the Emerald Isle will have something to celebrate come January 29th. Health Stores Ireland has relaunched its annual retailer awards for 2023 in partnership with New Natural Business when retailers will be eligible for awards in six categories. There’ll be a winner and two finalist awards in each category.

The awards will be presented at a special retailer and trade partner gathering to be held in Shannon, County Clare on January 29th under the banner ‘Putting Our Best Foot Forward’.

Online applications for retailers are now open with a December 15th deadline. Judging will be by an independent panel with finalists and overall winners announced and presented at the event.

Read the full story here...

Independent Irish Health Foods bought by Bellingham Capital

Food investment fund Bellingham Capital has acquired Independent Irish Health Foods (IIHF), owner of the True Natural Goodness brand.

Wholesaler and distributor IIHF has more than 1,000 customers across Ireland and continental Europe. Headquartered in Ballyvourney, Co Cork, it had a turnover of €25m last year and an 89-strong workforce.

More than 10,000 health food products are supplied to an international customer base, including vegetarian, vegan, organic, free-from and fair-trade brands.

Day-to-day operations will continue as normal and the company's co-founders Richard Wilkins and Henry Bartlett will stay with the business in consultancy roles.

The Bellingham Group operates across the farming, hospitality and retail food distribution sectors and its companies employ 230 people with a combined turnover of €80m.

Last year, Bellingham Capital also acquired National Organic Products Ltd, owner of the Bunalun brand.

NAHS becomes Health Stores UK in major brand refresh

The National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) has changed its name to Health Stores UK in a major brand refresh that signals an exciting period of development for the 91-year-old organisation.

The name change comes as Health Stores UK formally takes over the HealthyDoesIt consumer health initiative.

The NAHS rebrand is backed by a high-visibility print and digital marketing campaign taglined ‘Say hello to Health Stores UK’. A striking new Health Stores UK logo completes the brand refresh, and features prominently across the campaign.

Read the full story here

An industry devastated by the collapse of ToL and THS

As 143 staff at Tree of Life and The Health Store lost their jobs following the collapse of both wholesalers, the natural products industry vowed to bounce back after yet another hit to its renowned resilience.

Both wholesalers, owned by the Health Made Easy Group and operating from large warehouses in central England, announced on August 22 that they were in administration and a buyer sought for the ailing businesses.

The National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) said this was “an extremely sad development which will be felt right across our entire industry,” not least as THS was a Patron and the company was set up via the NAHS in 1932 to serve the newly evolving health food trade.

“Our thoughts are with all of the staff who have lost their jobs and we are currently working with our members to help them overcome this heavy blow to their supply chain,” said a spokesperson.

Read the full story here...

Tree of Life and The Health Store in administration

The health food and natural products industry is plunged into a supply crisis today with the announcement that Tree of Life and The Health Store have been put into administration.

Both wholesalers are owned by the Health Made Easy Group and operate from large warehouses in central England.

A short statement on both websites confirmed that Chris Pole and Ryan Grant of Interpath Advisory had been appointed joint administrators on 22 August 2022.

The news will rock the health food retail sector which relies heavily on both wholesalers and we will endeavour to keep the industry informed.

Between them, THS and ToL dominate the supply of healthy, natural and organic products with the former focusing on independent health food stores.

Vitamin company Higher Nature and oral health supplier Peppersmith are also owned by the HME Group.

Worried about fraud? Bira is here to help

The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) and the Cyber Resilience Centre for the West Midlands have launched a new cyber support hub. The platform helps retailers who have been seeing a rise in the number of cyber-attacks in recent years.

A recent report published by PwC revealed that cyber-attacks on retail clients had increased by over 30%, and with the opening of retail businesses having increased by 8% in the last two years, the industry is becoming more and more appealing to cybercriminals.

The hub, available to retail businesses across the country, hosts content that includes easy-to-follow top tips on key topics such as two-factor authentication, the use of passwords, application and software updates. Here’s the link:

A novel buzz

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a public consultation on a proposal to allow edible insects to remain on the market while they go through the novel foods authorisation process. The FSA is taking a similar approach to the one it took for CBD.

Robert Redfern – his legacy continues

Ever the modest man, by his own request Robert Redfern (1946-2022) was laid to rest without fuss and ceremony although the Good Health Naturally/Wholesale Health family gathered in July for a quiet celebration of his life.

The man who brought Serrapeptase to the world’s attention passed away after a short illness, aged 76.

“Recent successes [e.g. ionic range] go to show that Good Health Naturally, a brand which has always gone from strength to strength, can navigate change to emerge even stronger whilst keeping Robert Redfern’s legacy alive,” said his daughter Lucy Redfern.

Robert was greatly admired by everyone who met him for his passion and dedication to natural health. His research and work helped to save the lives of thousands of people across the world through his educational online health websites, radio interviews and nutritional formulations.

He founded Dove Health with his wife Anne (pictured) in 1992 and launched the Healthpoint electro-acupressure machine still sold to this day. This grew into Good Health Naturally with the principle of improving the health and wellbeing of people’s lives through nutritional supplements, vitamins and minerals.

His daughter Lucy Redfern followed in her parent’s footsteps and launched Wholesale Health in 2001, supplying Good Health Naturally products to practitioners and independent health stores. His son Nicholas heads the Good Health Naturally IT team and his daughter Olivia played an active role in the business before moving to Australia to start a family.

His magazine Naturally Healthy News is dedicated to continuing Robert’s legacy with a commitment to help people to live a healthy lifestyle.

Donations in his memory were sent to The Woodland Trust – Robert was an advocate for planting trees to restore the health and ecology of the planet and its people.

An essential choice

Health Stores Ireland presented a Special Recognition in Service to Industry to Atlantic Aromatics Essential Oils founder and MD, David Kelly.

David started Atlantic Aromatics in County Mayo in 1985 and from the offset began a special relationship with health food stores. The company moved to County Wicklow a few years later and over the last 30 years this relationship has strengthened to the point that health stores are now the established ‘go to’ for everything aromatherapy.

Gerald Colfer, (pictured above right> who presented the award to David (left) at a recent Aromatherapy Training & Wellness Day attended by health store owners and staff, said: “ Atlantic Aromatics have built a very special relationship with independent health food stores. There is a unique camaraderie with retailers and David, Ellen and all the team at Atlantic. Their commitment to training, in-store events and support of Health Stores Ireland shows over the years as a model for any company or brand wishing to build success”.

David Kelly was delighted and surprised with the award. He thanked Gerald and commented: “From the very beginning we felt that health stores were the best place to stock our oils. There is a serious focus on health and wellbeing backed up by training and strong ethics. The quality of health stores in Ireland is extremely high and we look forward to a continuing relationship with the independent sector.”

Plant alliance

The Vegetarian Society has joined the Plant-Based Food Alliance, a new organisation launched last year as a coalition of organisations from across the UK’s plant-based sector. The organisation aims to support a thriving plant-based food and drink sector in the UK that helps to improve public health while reducing industrial farming and supporting the Government’s environmental goals.

NAHS welcomes a new supporter

Natural Trade Brokers, the team that brings natural product brands to the UK and Irish independent health food trade, is the latest to sign up as Patron of the National Association of Health Stores.

NTB joins existing Patrons The Health Store, Natures Aid, FSC, Viridian, A.Vogel, Terra Nova and Bionature. Its two sales teams are dedicated to the independent natural products trade and is supporting retailer customers with free stock and sampling to improve margin and POR.

“We look forward to working with them to support independent health stores across the UK,” said NAHS Administrator Avril McCracken.

It’s not easy in challenging times

Health Made Easy Group, owner of Tree of Life, The Health Store, Peppersmith and Higher Nature, has reset its business over the past five months.

In April, John Weaver was re-engaged as Health Made Easy Group Chief Executive to oversee forward management of the business, working with Group Finance Director Stuart Gould and Tim Ryan, Distribution Group Supply & Commercial Director. Their aim is to regenerate after the hits of Brexit and Covid, particularly the impact of inflation and supply issues.

The Group, which consolidated the supply chain and commercial teams across Tree of Life and The Health Store in 2020, says it is well-placed to meet this challenge as the teams work in collaboration with their supply partners and customers. Paul Rideout continues to be the dedicated independent channel lead for The Health Store as well as Tree of Life in addition to managing the export channel.

A sporting chance for sustainability

The European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) has launched a ‘Lifting the Planet’ sustainability pledge, taking a leading role in the industry’s transition to sustainability.

The initiative sets out ESSNA members’ commitments towards clean energy transition, circular economy packaging, efficient waste management, ethical and sustainable sourcing of ingredients, and improving animal welfare practices.

ESSNA Chair Dr Adam Carey says: “Our members have already started to reap the opportunities of the sustainable transition. Many sports nutrition companies have launched plant-based product ranges to respond to consumers’ demand for vegan and vegetarian products, while others have taken steps to remove and reduce plastic in their packaging.”

Government price-cut campaign would hit independent retailers, NAHS warns

The National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) has warned that a new Government campaign asking businesses to slash consumer prices will disadvantage independent retailers and further threaten local high streets.

The high profile campaign, expected to launch in July, will be billed as a way to help tackle the cost of living. Recently Number 10's new new cost of living tsar David Buttress asked business leaders to start thinking of ways to bring down the prices shoppers pay at the checkout.

But the NAHS believes the scheme could have serious unintended effects for smaller, independent businesses. NAHS Chairman, Len Glenville, said: “Large businesses may have the scale and capacity to make these price cuts but smaller, independent retailers simply do not. If, as a result of this scheme, we see wide scale price-cutting by major retailers we risk seeing more shoppers deserting local high streets. In short, this scheme will end up advantaging the big, already super-profitable supermarkets.”

“Independent retailers are battling with soaring rates, unprecedented energy charges and rising wages and staff costs – and absolutely cannot afford to cut their profit margins. What we really need from Government right now is practical help with business running costs, to help independent retailers weather the present storm and continue to offer the vital service they do on their local high streets.”

Robert Redfern, 1946-2022

Robert Redfern, the man who brought Serrapeptase to the world’s attention, has passed away after a short illness, aged 76.

Robert was greatly admired by everyone who met him for his passion and dedication to natural health. His research and work has helped to save the lives of thousands of people across the world, through his educational online health websites, radio interviews and nutritional formulations.

Read the full story here...

Top awards and big announcements at HFMA AGM

The Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) enjoyed a bumper annual meeting recently with several important announcements.

Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist specialising in women’s health, was named winner of this year’s Maurice Hanssen Award of Honour. The award is presented in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding contribution to the industry.

Dr Marilyn Glenville PhD (Cantab), AFBPsS, FBANT has been working in the natural health industry for over 35 years in clinical practice and is the author of 17 internationally best-selling books which have sold over one million copies worldwide and been translated into over 20 languages.

Read the full story here...

Online tax ‘must have a threshold’

All independent stores with an online shop, or with plans to launch one, will have concerns about the Government’s Online Sales Tax (OST) consultation. OST is being considered as an option to help rebalance taxation of the retail sector.

The Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC), a body of 19 trade associations representing over 100,000 UK-based independent retailers, has polled its membership to help the Treasury understand the views of those who trade on high streets and online.

A tax aimed at every online trader from Amazon to small businesses would unfairly hit bricks-and-mortar independents that have an online shop.

A key finding by IRC’s poll is that if an online sales tax was to be introduced a sufficiently high qualifying threshold needs to be applied, starting at £2million of online sales.

The majority of IRC’s bricks-and-mortar retailers welcome the idea of OST offsetting business rates costs as these significantly impact their physical premises, but not at the cost of stifling their future online sales.

A further finding was that Click and Collect services must be exempt from an OST because of the important role they play in driving footfall to shops and town centres.

A land of alternatives

Health stores in Ireland don’t keep themselves to themselves. They’ve found a neat way of sharing their interconnectivity while celebrating their individualism.

Their association, Health Stores Ireland, has produced a traditional touring map to highlight their network.

Each store owner has made a recommendation of something alternative to see and do within their own location and the map features a wide range of places of interest, some well-known attractions, and some hidden gems. The maps are available free of charge from independent health food stores.

The idea of a touring map was born out of a succession of summers where retailers found from their conversations with their customers that there was a trend toward holidaying close to home.

Mary Wedel, An Tobairín at Bandon, says: “We get great joy in recommending one of our fellow independent retailers to our staycationing customers and we look forward to their feedback when they return, often with well wishes from our friends on another part of the island.”

In a nod to the future each store is listed with an Eircode which will take you to their door when punched into Google maps or another SatNav app.

Jim Mawdsley 1944-2022

Marie Longman of Peak Health Food in Rugeley, Staffs, has paid tribute to her mentor Jim Mawdsley who founded Chase Health Foods in 1994.

He employed her at the Rugeley store in 2006 – “We had great times of laughter and learning and he taught me so much” - and she bought the shop from him in 2009. Jim died in March. “You have helped so many people Jim, and none more than me.”

There’s life in the high street yet

Plans to force landlords to let shops that have been empty for six months is a start but we need to do more than merely fill high street space, says Queen of Shops Mary Portas.

Under the move unveiled in the Queen's Speech, buildings left vacant for a year would have to be entered into a "rental auction". The British Retail Consortium has calculated that one in seven shopfronts across Britain is empty.

“The government’s plans to force landlords to fill shops after six months sitting empty is a start, but we need to push further,” said Ms Portas in a recent blog. “Not just ‘fill’ space but consider how [the high street] will fulfil our needs and teem with life – people, planet, pets, all living things.”

She added: “The high street is not dead. What is dead is the way we used to do our high streets.”

Read all about it

Our sister title, Your Healthy Living magazine, has been named ‘Official Consumer Title’ of leading UK health food wholesalers Tree of Life and The Health Store.

It’s delivered direct to their retail customers nationwide to support in-store promotions and increase in-store sales. To book space contact Sales Manager Heidi Thoday ([email protected], 01223 894200).

New CEO at Soil Association Certification

Soil Association Certification has appointed Dominic Robinson to replace Martin Sawyer as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Dominic has a wealth of experience in environmental and forestry organisations and has had a close working relationship with Soil Association Certification since 2018. As an independent member of its Scrutiny Committee, Dominic was responsible for ensuring impartiality and integrity of standards.

He joins Certification from Severn Trent Water where he was Head of Visitor Experience for five years, and before that he was with Forestry England where he was responsible for certification of the 250,000ha public forest estate ensuring compliance with the UK Woodland Assurance Standard.

It’s royal-tree time

Staff at Sheaf Street Health Store, Daventry, joining the celebrations by wearing the Viridian Jubilee crowns and displaying the Jubilee bunting.

The Queen’s Green Canopy, a unique tree planting initiative with the catchy phrase, ‘Plant a Tree for the Jubilee’, is winning massive support across the country.

Everyone from individuals to Scout and Girlguiding groups, villages, cities, counties, schools and corporates are playing their part to enhance our environment by planting trees.

Viridian Nutrition was among those from the health food industry to step up by donating £7,000 to The Woodland Trust – £100 for every year the Queen has been on the throne.

The funds will enable the charity to continue its vital work of protecting current woodlands and the planting of new trees across the UK.

Viridian also designed its own unique Viridian Jubilee celebratory crest, featuring the iconic Viridian blue dot, much-loved bunny and a crown constructed from illustrations of its natural ingredients.

Healthy refresh

The HealthyDoesIt website has had a refresh and is now easier for consumers and retailers to use. Consumers will find easy access to campaign features and the giveaway. Retailers can download assets and links that can be used in their own social content. HealthyDoesMenopause ran throughout May. Retailers wanting to be involved can email [email protected].

New Irish Health Stores Touring Map

Health Stores Ireland are launching a new store finder and touring guide to highlight their network.

Each store owner has made a recommendation of something alternative to see and do within their own location and the map features a wide range of places of interest, some well-known attractions, and some hidden gems. The maps are available free of charge from independent health food stores from mid-April onwards.

The idea of a touring map was born out of a succession of Summers where retailers found from their conversations with their customers that there was a trend toward holidaying close to home. Mary Wedel, of An Tobarín in Bandon, said "We get great joy in recommending one of our fellow independent retailers to our staycationing customers and we look forward to their feedback when they return, often with well wishes from our friends on another part of the island. Acknowledging the changing trends in holiday habits and channelling this into a useful document was our challenge."

Health Stores Ireland teamed up with eco design and print company The Factory, based near Birr, and modelled their project on traditional touring maps from the past. In a nod to the future each store is listed with an Eircode which will take you to their door when punched into Google Maps or another sat nav app.

The touring map will be press launched at a gathering at The Grand Hotel, Malahide on May 13th in association with trade partners ISME and Skillnet, with keynote speakers and special guests.

Supporting Ukraine

UK and Ireland health food retailers are all extremely caring and generous and are doing whatever they can to help, mostly ‘under the radar’.

The National Association of Health Stores has been encouraging giving to official sites where the Government will match their donations.

Many stores and suppliers are stepping up in imaginative ways. For example, Noah’s Health Food Store, Wallington, has been running an in-store raffle to win a hamper filled with goodies. Ruth Noah’s target is £1000 – “We have a good footfall so can reach many people,” she said. “If we all contribute what we can it can add up to a significant amount as a joint effort.”

Read the full story here...

NAHS launches £6,000 shout out initiative

An enterprising initiative is being launched at Natural & Organic Products Europe to help UK health stores in a £6,000 marketing push. Jointly funded by A.Vogel and Viridian Nutrition, the ‘NAHS Shout Out’ programme is designed to help stores generate new customers and increased footfall in their local area. Twelve NAHS member stores will receive £500 to be spent on a local marketing initiative devised by the store in conjunction with the expert marketing teams at the two industry-leading companies.

“Both A.Vogel and Viridian work nationally to help drive footfall into independent health food stores,” explains NAHS Chair Len Glenville. “The ‘NAHS Shout Out’ is a bespoke programme for 12 individual NAHS member stores to create tailored marketing solutions for that specific store.”

To apply for the funding and advice, simply send a short video (maximum five minutes) sharing your ideas for ‘shouting out’ to your community to generate more customers in your store. Deadline for entries is midnight April 20th, 2022. Email your entry to [email protected].

The successful stores will receive a minimum of two hours’ brainstorming and support from A.Vogel or Viridian’s marketing teams and funding released to action the local programme. Afterwards, the success of the initiative will be analysed and shared throughout the NAHS membership.

This initiative is exclusive to NAHS members – to join the NAHS for as little as £21 per month (ex VAT) go to:

Building back better

The Health Food Institute has announced a new tariff of support packages to enable it to progress health food staff training to higher professional standards. Packages include Ambassador and Patron levels, a CPD points scheme and free courses to enable suppliers to introduce new employees to the industry. Full details here.

Healthy does menopause

HealthyDoesIt, the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association initiative to help direct consumers to health stores, is gearing up for its next campaign.

HealthyDoesMenopause will launch at the end of April and run throughout May. The campaign will feature a giveaway promoted on social media with a wide range of products provided by HMFA members. Feedback from previous giveaways has always been positive and has encouraged further trial and purchase of products from the winners.

The campaign will be built around features by HealthyDoesIt’s expert nutritionists featured on the HealthyDoesIt website, as well as in soundbite videos to grab consumers’ attention.

With insights from subscriber sign-ups, the HealthyDoesMenopause campaign targets consumers more closely and will reach an ever more relevant audience as well as looking at attracting a wider base.

Retailers can help support the campaign by sharing and engaging with the social posts. They can also link to the special features in their own mailouts and ready-made social media content that can help expand their own reach.

HealthyDoesIt will be attending Natural & Organic Products with the HMFA (stand H91). A perfect opportunity for retailers to find out more about what the campaign offers and how they can get involved.

Marketing Consultant Theresa Cutts says, “I’m looking forward to seeing plenty of retailers at NOPE, not only after such a long break, but also as a great opportunity to discuss HealthyDoesIt and our campaigns, and discovering ways in which we can work with retailers and help support their business.”

The refreshed website is now easier for retailers to use with campaign assets ready to download and use. A library contains an extensive collection of tips and features that can be linked to mailouts and posts. Retailers can be assured that the information is not only reliable and accurate and non-commercial. Get in touch via the contact form at or email [email protected].

Round in circles

UK Research & Innovation ( has announced £30m in funding for 18 collaborative projects as part of its Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge, together with a major collaboration and co-funding agreement with the Circular Economy for the Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX) initiative, a collaboration of over 180 European companies, associations and organisations.

Eco beauty

Thirty-six cosmetics and personal care companies as well as professional associations have joined forces to form the EcoBeautyScore Consortium, aiming to develop an industry-wide environmental impact assessment and scoring system for cosmetics products. Among them is NATRUE, the association behind the natural and organic cosmetics certification standard.

Make it Better

Better Food Traders, a network of retailers committed to selling seasonal and ethical produce, has produced a digital map that shows locations across the UK where people can buy locally sourced, sustainable fruit and vegetables.

Sustainable Awards…

The 2022 Sustainable Food Awards are now open to entries in five categories. Deadline for entries is April 29 with finalists selected by May 16 and the winners announced on June 16 (

It’s a natural

New Natural Business is at Natural & Organic Products Europe alongside consumer titles Your Healthy Living and Rude Health Magazine.

Make sure you visit Stand E90 to share the excitement of the show’s return after two years of pandemic restrictions and tell us your news, hopes and expectations.

We’re eager to resume face-to-face contact with retailers and suppliers alike and being mutually inspired as the industry is re-invigorated to meet people’s health needs in a new era of better consumer understanding of nutrition, natural health and sustainable retailing.

All routes lead to health

Health Stores Ireland is putting the finishing touches to a unique touring map of Ireland that features referrals from each store for a unique ‘do & see’ locally. The map, based on the traditional pre-satnav touring road map, is designed to tie independent stores together and acknowledge the wide geographical spread of the network.

Health Stores Ireland Chair Martha Brennan says, “Over the last two years, with more people deciding to staycation, we discovered that our regular customers were seeking out health food stores in the towns they were visiting. We strongly encourage this, and we love to hear feedback from the different stores when they return. There is something very warming when a regular comes in and says, Olive from The Olive Branch in Clonakilty sends her regards.”

The touring map will be available by mid-April with a planned press launch and a member gathering at the end of the month. The project is supported by Health Stores Ireland’s trade partners who subscribe to a ring-fenced sectoral marketing fund each year.

HealthyDoesVegan's final week

The HFMA's HealthyDoesIt website's HealthyDoesVegan campaign, which has run throughout February, is in its final week. Making the most of the vegan focus in January, the HealthyDoesIt team wanted to continue momentum to maximise consumer interest in a vegan, plant-based diet.

Marketing consultant Theresa Cutts said; "HealthyDoesVegan has been a fantastic resource for retailers wanting to use the vegan theme for that little bit longer. Its fresh, dynamic content is a great 'go to' for anyone wanting to insert some vegan living inspiration into their digital content, whether online, in newsletters or even to inspire staff in training. As well as this, the refreshed HealthyDoesIt website has a more interactive retailer area, for viewing the retailer toolkits, upload of store stories and 'health store finder' information.

HealthyDoesIt are now working on their next campaign, HealthyDoesMenopause, which willrun in May.

Helping hand for carbon neutral stores

The Healthy Life in Devizes has been awarded a Certificate of Sustainability under the international Green Leaf Eco Standard.

Owner Justina Pettifer has organised a discount code for a Green Leaf audit for like-minded businesses that want part of a trusted, vetted platform of eco-friendly organisations.

“The impact assessment isn’t as invasive or time-consuming as it sounds,” says Justina. “For SMEs the assessment involves a couple of meetings plus information processing and reports.”

Although only about a quarter of businesses gain full certification first time out, the assessments come with full environmental impact reports, a roadmap to carbon zero and full list of recommendations to become fully certified within 12 months.

The Healthy Life showed it is helping others to reduce their environmental impact by adding refill services, paying close attention to product packaging and focusing on carbon zero recycling practices.

Justina’s past experience in recycling enabled her to find ways of recycling material that would otherwise have gone in landfill. She also works with wholesalers to help encourage a returnable recycling scheme. Email [email protected] and quote ‘GoGreen22’ for free six months’ membership.

Sláinte! Ireland toasts its new water

Health Stores Ireland has launched an own-brand product exclusive to members.

Organically-sourced spring water in recycled plastic is now available for the grab and go consumer.

The group is hoping member stores will take the product as a more carbon-efficient “swap out” for mainstream branded waters.

Glass bottled still and sparkling water will be launched soon following a trial run with selected retailers last summer. These will be targeted as a quality table water and have sold particularly well in cases of six.

New stores

Planet Organic opened its thirteenth London store on Hampstead High Street and Better Food opened its fourth Bristol store in Gloucester Road, both at the back end of last year.

Opportunity knocks

Two high profile health food stores are on the market in Ireland as profitable going concerns. The owners of In A Nutshell, New Ross, Wexford and Tir Na Og in Sligo are seeking to retire.

Both are established award-winning businesses in busy towns situated in picture postcard Ireland and each has over 30 years’ trading with loyal shopping bases and are firm favourites with food bloggers and critics.

Health Stores Ireland has added an “Invest” tab to its website for details:

Export helping hand

The Government’s new Export Support Service aims to help UK businesses get answers to practical questions about exporting to Europe. Visit or call the Customs and International trade helpline on 0300 322 9434.

Keep it on the high street

A programme which aims to future-proof Britain’s high streets is underway after Scottish payments provider Miconex rolled out its digital gift card technology to 16 towns and cities across the UK.

The first places in the UK to introduce the community-specific digital e-card gifting technology are Sunderland, Watford, Gloucester, Malmesbury, Perth, Scarborough, Wimbledon, Ipswich, Swansea, Worthing, Arran, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Bradford, Edinburgh and Colchester.

The technology allows the towns and cities to have their own digital gift card, which works through the Mastercard network, digital wallet services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, and a new Love Local app.

Miconex, which operates over 70 Town & City Gift Card programmes in the UK and Ireland, has been working with Scottish government-backed ‘Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards’, EML Payments Ltd and Downtown Gift Card programmes in North America on the introduction of the payment technology for the UK and Ireland.

The Watford Gift Card launched in 2020 as part of Watford Business Improvement District’s efforts to support local businesses.

Glen Hempenstall, marketing and communications manager at Watford BID, says: “It was becoming increasingly clear that many of our businesses are moving towards contactless payments only. Combining this with growing consumer trends towards smart phone payments, we felt it was essential that we introduced digital gift cards so that the programme was more inclusive for our businesses.”

CLF in the hands of the team

CLF Distribution Ltd – slogan ‘In It Together’ – is now an employee-owned business. By forming a Trust, founder Robin Holiday has put the Southampton-based health food wholesaler in the hands of its staff.

“The people behind CLF are not only its owners, they are also the present and the future of the company,” Holiday said. Under the scheme employees can earn extra – up to £3,600 per annum tax free.

Examples of Employee Ownership Trusts include KPMG, the John Lewis Partnership and Riverford Organic Farmers. Holiday remains MD of CLF.

Healthy Route Leicester closes

Gary Trickett has pulled down the shutters on his Healthy Route store in Leicester.

The former NAHS Chairman says he is not confident in trading conditions as the lease comes to an end.

Despite remaining open throughout lockdowns, sales dropped to a third of normal trading. Since then sales have recovered to 50% of 2018 and with diminishing footfall and increased costs, Gary took the decision to close the store.

“The Government invested millions in subsides to get Amazon to build a new distribution hub at East Midlands Airport,” he says. “This is a company that doesn’t pay its fair share in taxes and even negotiates its tax payments, yet neither national nor local government does anything to support high street stores.”

Healthy Route’s store just outside Nottingham remains open.

Top honour

Congratulations to NAHS Patron Natures Aid, who welcomed the Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire, Lord Shuttleworth, to their Kirkham headquarters to formally present the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade to the business. The Lancashire-based company, which last year celebrated its 40th anniversary, has been recognised for the exceptionally rapid growth of its export business.

WFBM thrives during pandemic

Stoke on Trent-based distributor World Foods Brand Management – brands include BioStrath, Otosan, Hubner, Pilfood and more – has enjoyed its two best trading years (2020-2021).

Director Mark McCarty says: “This is partly due to expanding our offering but in the main by managing our stock levels and picking up sales in existing areas. We continue to trade at a good level and will continue to drive growth with new product development.”

Mark is one of four panellists in this issue of New Natural Business discussing supply chain issues as part of our REBOOT 2022 section (pages 30-39).

How health stores are helping people to manage their own conditions

A new campaign by the UK's College of Medicine, called The Food Manifesto, extols the virtues of holistic health to improve physical and mental well-being and includes a short film on the role of independent health stores.

Viridian Nutrition was intrinsically involved in the project to campaign for health stores to be recognised as a valuable resource in the community. The Viridian film features interviews with health store retailers, a happy health store customer and an NHS GP - all of whom were invited to appear in the film by Viridian.

The five-minute sponsored editorial programme explores health stores as part of the health care system and a valuable resource in the community. In particular, enabling people to take responsibility in managing their own health by focusing on diet and lifestyle to help reverse poor health conditions and chronic illnesses.

It also demonstrates how by putting customers' health above sales for sales' sake, health stores can work with GP practices to play a part in reducing the woeful backlog of primary patient care. .

Watch the Viridian film here.

Santa gets healthy

In the spirit of Christmas and to celebrate the natural health industry, HealthyDoesIt has launched its fifth topical campaign, HealthyDoesFestive.

The consumer campaign is HealthyDoesIt's most generous giveaway yet and is full of festive goodies. All products have been provided from a handful of brands and companies across the natural health industry.

This campaign aims to encourage consumers to take positive steps towards a happy and healthy Christmas and New Year. In addition, by entering the giveaway, consumers can opt in to be added to the HealthyDoesIt mailing list.

This giveaway features products from HFMA member brands, and additional products that can be found in health stores. It's an opportunity for brands to have their product centre stage of an exciting and engaged consumer campaign.

Esther Mills-Roberts, Communications Manager at the HFMA, is encouraging retailers to make full use of the information provided within the HealthyDoesIt assets toolkit. Retailers can get in touch to find out more by emailing [email protected].

Health Stores Ireland Special Recognition Awards 2021 Announced

Health Stores Ireland surprised two of Ireland’s best known sector advocates with Special Recognition Awards at their end of year virtual AGM in November.

Erica Murray, Retailer Award, and Jonathan Griffith, Industry Award, received their plaques from family members who had secretly joined the virtual meeting. Both were nominated for their work in protecting freedom of choice in natural health.

Health Stores Ireland President, Gerald Colfer, said the awards were probably overdue to Erica and Jonathan but he was delighted to present them co-jointly, albeit remotely. "From battles around Traditional Herbal Medicines Directives to the recent Stop The VAT Campaign these two guys have been driving from the front and been generous with their time and energy for the betterment of everyone."

Erica Murray, of The Hopsack, Dublin, said she was delighted to receive the award alongside a good friend and fellow campaigner. Jonathan Griffith, of the Natural Medicine Company, who had spoken at the AGM about Maximum Safe Levels around vitamins said he has always felt that the health food sector was more like a family and he was happy to continue working with retailers in protecting and improving it for everyone.

Weleda Announces B Corp Certification

Weleda, now in its centenary year, has just announced its B Corp Certification.

The B Corp certification is awarded by the non-profit organisation B Lab. It is not products that are certified, but a company's actions and overall approach. The focus is on social added value and ecological sustainability, and not maximising profits at any price. In other words, it is about the environment, biodiversity, species protection, human rights, climate protection, employees and customers. B Lab calls it 'business as a force for good'.

Stefan Siemer, Head of Sustainability at Weleda, explained:

"B Corp stands for "Benefit Corporation" and the certification proves that a company has strong commitments and results in terms of social and ecological standards. Customers are becoming increasingly aware of how their own consumption impacts the planet and society. People are quite rightly asking brands and companies to care. So that is an important part of the brand promise. This trend can help make the world a better place."

While 80 points are required for B Corp certification, Weleda scored 106.8 points.

Joint winners for Pat Curran memorial

Ireland's Pat Curran Award for Excellence in Service 2021 will be presented jointly to Jill Bell of Well &: Good, Midleton, and Hannah Dare of Organico, Bantry.

The annual award is presented by Olive Curran and Michael Donnellan from PPC, brand holders for Eskimo-3, ZinCuflex and Zerochol in Ireland, in memory of Olive's late father Pat who was a much-loved industry figure throughout his life.

Pat was a real hero of the Irish natural health world and truly passionate about customer service and treating people with respect. He was a man of integrity, kindness and generosity who always put the needs of others before his own. The award celebrates excellence in customer service within independent health stores throughout Ireland.

The award is voted by the readers of Rude Health Magazine and this year there was a tie for first place. Olive and Michael decided to double the prize fund and present the prize equally to both deserving retailers.

Jill Bell (pictured on left) has been running Well & Good in County Cork since 1997. She is renowned for her depth of knowledge, generosity and empathy. Voter Claire wrote, “Through the pandemic it's been a go-to for so many items that sustained us for the last year and a half.”

Hannah Dare (pictured on right) runs iconic Organico with her sister Rachel in West Cork. Voter Saoirse said, “An absolute gem in Bantry, a wealth of information, served with a friendly smile - my favourite place to shop in town.”

Olive from PPC says: “It was an easy decision for us to present a joint award for the first time. Both retailers are fantastic ambassadors for the sector, and we know they will be popular winners.”

Is it real kombucha?

#TheRealKombuchaRevolution - a coalition of traditional UK craft kombucha brewers - is campaigning for greater transparency and label compliance to stop processed variants sold as 'kombucha' knocking traditional UK brands off retail shelves. Gary Leigh launched the gut health drink into UK retail with GO Kombucha in 2003 but today some copycat industrialised variants are pasteurised and contain added sweeteners. "Traditional raw kombucha made with basic ingredients and no adulteration or additives is now recognised by science as also conferring a benefit to gut health," says Gary whose brand was delisted from Whole Foods in June after 13 years. The category has tripled in size since 2016.

Wedding bells sound for Ray, 88

Health Food Institute patriarch Ray Hill remarried this summer at the age of 88. Ray, owner of Sunshine Health Shop in Stroud, lost his beloved wife Val in 2015 after 59 years together.Meanwhile Zambodhi Schlossmacher, 61, a sound therapist at Ruskin Mill College in Stroud who works therapeutically in special needs education, had branched out as a carer and helped Ray during the last two years of Val's life.

Four years later, Ray needed help cataloguing his book collection and Zambodhi, a regular Sunshine customer, offered to help. Ray has a lot of books so it took a year of weekly meetings creating a database, and the rest as they say...

They were married a year later on July 27 but there was no honeymoon - Ray was rudely interrupted by a recurring hernia when shifting furniture and spent a week in hospital following major surgery.

Ray has to be cautious because Zambodhi can instruct him to shift furniture in German, English and Swedish, not that she would! We wish them every happiness together.

On the nose

Organic allergen barrier balm HayMax is the 2021 winner of 'Allergy Remedy Specialist of the Year' in the CorporateLiveWire London and South-East Prestige Awards. Max Wiseberg's hay fever brand has now notched up more than 50 awards.

HFMA warns folic acid in bread is not enough

The Government's announcement that folic acid will be added to non-wholemeal wheat flour across the UK to help prevent spinal defects in babies has been widely welcomed as a first step towards better folic acid consumption across the nation.

But the Health Food Manufacturers' Association (HFMA) says the reliance on bread intake alone may not be enough to reduce the risks of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) such as spina bifida and anencephaly. The overall folate status of the general population will improve as a result of mandatory fortification, raising awareness and education of the need to take a 400mcg folic acid supplement while trying to conceive and during the first trimester of pregnancy will become even more important.

“Folic acid supplements taken while trying to conceive and during the first trimester of pregnancy are proven to reduce the risk of Neural Tube Defects in the foetus,” says HFMA scientific advisor Dr Michelle Sadler.

“In addition to this welcome announcement, Government advice remains that women should take a 400mcg supplement of folic acid daily for at least a month prior to conception and until 12 weeks of pregnancy. While we welcome the folic acid boost from non-wholemeal bread and other flour products, women should still continue to take a supplement for maximum protection.”

The expected level of fortification will provide about 60mcg of folic acid per slice of bread. That means about seven slices of fortified bread will provide the recommended daily intake of folic acid to reduce risk of NTDs.

Only food supplements can guarantee exact dosages of nutrients, as well as proving to be more cost effective than additional bread - 400mcg folic acid supplements can be purchased for less than 1p a day. To consume the equivalent levels of folic acid through bread would cost an additional 35p per day.

“There is no question that the overall folate status of the general population will improve as a result of mandatory fortification,” says Graham Keen, Executive Director of the HFMA. “There is, however, a real risk that this programme may have the reverse of the intended effect. If thorough awareness and education is not provided, women are at risk of relying solely on, say, a couple of slices of toast each day as their source of folate.”

Racing ahead

Athletes of all abilities were raring to go at the ninth Viridian Daventry Triathlon, after a break of a year. Sponsored by the vitamin company and independent health store Sheaf Street Health Store in Daventry, more than 230 entrants took part in the 400m pool swim, 20km cycle and 5km run.

It all matters

The OrganiCup menstrual cup has become a global success. Now, the Danish company behind it will revolutionize more essential habits. OrganiCup, which has sold close to 2m cups worldwide saving the planet 1,500 tonnes of waste, has changed its name to AllMatters and expanded its product range to include more easy-to-use, sustainable and recyclable personal care products.

An existing global community openly discusses menstruation and the availability of menstrual products for women around the world and has a ready-made market for its new water-free personal care products.

A gentle soap in powder form can be mixed with water in a recyclable aluminium bottle, thus cutting out the transport of water in single-use plastics and reducing packaging.

“We are so excited about this next chapter in our story which is about continuing to introduce sustainable products to our customers both here and in Ireland,” says UK Brand Manager Soo Cieszynska. “We want people to see that however small they think a switch to not using single use products, #itAllMatters.”

Sweet appointment

Natural health industry veteran Gary Torbuck has been appointed as sales manager for supplement manufacturer Sweet Cures. Formerly UK and Ireland sales manager for OptiBac Probiotics and before that with Higher Nature and BioCare, Gary has a track record of supporting independent retailers to grow sales and improve margins.

Organic September success

More than 250 independent retailers took part in Organic September Saturday at the start of the showcase month and six major multiples engaged in the campaign alongside over 600 brands. “There has been exceptional press coverage both about what organic means for the planet and the risks of not changing our choices,” says Clare McDermott, Business Development Director at the Soil Association.

Jumping for joy

After meeting the rigorous criteria of the Cruelty Free International-operated programme, Viridian products are now Leaping Bunny approved.

Beeing aware

Clipper Teas, the natural and organic tea brand owned by Ecotone UK, is working closely with bee expert Dave Goulson and has shared a number of thought-provoking images (full shelf/empty shelf) to demonstrate the impact on UK supermarkets if the number and species of bees and other pollinators continue to decline.

Female favourite

Weleda was hailed as having the Best Supply Chain Initiative by women's magazine Marie Claire in its first-ever UK Sustainability Awards. Weleda is one of just two leading beauty brands globally (and the first in Europe) to obtain the new Union for Ethical BioTrade certification for sourcing with respect.

Ruth Hawthorne is a natural

Natural Trade Brokers, the UK's leading sales brokerage company serving the UK's natural health trade sector, has announced Ruth Hawthorne (extreme right in photo) as its new Joint Managing Director. Ruth will work alongside Tom Moses (extreme left). Tom announced the news at the company's first in-person sales meeting following the pandemic as he personally celebrated 35 years in the Natural Health Industry and his own 70th birthday. Brands that NTB works with include Ricola, Green People, Lifeplan, Comvita, Whole Earth and Wiley's Finest.

Healthy does organic

HealthyDoesIt launched its third topical campaign as part of Organic September, HealthyDoesOrganic. The industry-wide website led by the Health Food Manufacturers' Association was engaging the public through exciting giveaways using organic products.

HFMA announces new chair and sees rapid increase in membership uptake

29 new companies have joined the HFMA during 2021 – most recently these include Healthspan, Chrysalis Health and Beauty and Clasado Biosciences. After a year of challenges including the impact of COVID and the departure from the EU, one member summed things up by saying that: "The HFMA helped keep the lights on and give people a healthy choice." In a new survey of its members, when asked how likely they were to recommend membership of the HFMA to a non-member company, the average rating was 9.1 out of 10.

HFMA has announced Steve Mann, Director of External Regulatory Affairs at Nelsons, as its new Chair. Steve, who had previously served as Vice-Chair, is now replaced in that role by Aileen Green, who is Director of Regulatory Affairs & Compliance at ADM Protexin. For the last seven years Robert Taylor, Senior Vice-President at Vitabiotics, had served with distinction as Chair, and at the recent annual meeting of HFMA members he was unanimously elevated to the honorary position of Vice-President – only the third person in the HFMA's 56-year history to hold that role.

Planet Organic appoints new CEO

Planet Organic, which has 11 stores in London and plans to open three more this year, has appointed George Dymond as its new Chief Executive Officer.

George Dymond, who is currently Group Chief Commercial Officer and MD of Holland & Barrett's international operation, joins the organic food and health retailer with a mission to grow the business and to further its ethos of healthy living and sustainable shopping.

He replaces Peter Marsh who retires after 13 years at the helm.

Wiley's Finest and OrganiCup partner to end period poverty in Ghana

Wiley's Finest UK sustainable fish oils company and OrganiCup menstrual cups have partnered together to provide girls and women in Ghana long-lasting menstrual cups in order to combat period poverty through a fundraising campaign with British charity School in a Bag.

From 1 June to 1 October, Wiley's Finest UK is donating 20% of its Beginners DHA and Elementary EPA to School in a Bag's Ghana initiative who distribute SchoolBags filled with educational resources to poor, orphaned, vulnerable, disadvantaged and disaster-affected children. The company hopes to raise thousands of pounds for the charity. In addition, OrganiCup will now also provide 400 menstrual cups, worth £8750, to both young women and their mothers to end period poverty.

Savio Joanes, Sales Director at Wiley's Finest UK says: "Our partnership with OrganiCup has increased the impact of our fundraising campaign exponentially. Now we are helping to deliver not just SchoolBags filled with life-changing educational resources, but also life-changing resources for young women who often can't afford the period products they need each month. Every pound we raise through the sales of our children's Omega-3s products now goes a lot further."

Soo Cieszynska, UK Brand Manager for OrganiCup says: "No girl or woman needs to be ashamed of their period, nor should they miss out on vital education. Our OrganiCups help women in their daily lives and are easier, healthier and greener. Over 200,000 tonnes of menstrual waste are discarded each year in the UK alone. Through better choices we can make an impact both here in the UK and in Ghana."

Luke Simon, Founder CEO of School in a Bag says: "All three partners involved are in perfect alignment. The addition of menstrual cups in the SchoolBags of Ghanaian girls will mean less school days are missed. By adding cups for the mothers too, we hope to help make generational changes to improve quality of life and a pathway out of poverty for families, as well as helping the mothers be the pioneers of change."

Tributes to ‘legend’ Gary Trickett

The industry has paid tribute to outgoing National Association of Health Stores Chairman Gary Trickett after seven years in the job and welcomed successor Len Glenville and his partner Melanie Beard, who is Deputy Chair.

“You’ve done a great job for us all and I am sure you will always remain an inspiration and contributor within our industry,” Wendy Atkinson of Modern Herbals told Gary.

Cheryl Thallon, MD of Viridian, added: “Gary is a legend in the health food trade and has guided the NAHS during the most extraordinarily difficult times. So glad he is staying on the committee.”

Read Len Glenville’s first NNB article here

Irish class of 2021

In a new initiative, 85 Irish students have signed up to Health Food Institute (HFI) Diploma 1 and Diploma 2 courses in a collective approach to training, facilitated and coordinated by Health Stores Ireland.

The candidates will be supported as a group with WhatsApp and Zoom meetings plus webinars with specialists from a range of disciplines including homeopathy, herbal remedies and nutrition.

Candidates are given a monthly target to complete each course module. The class of 2021 aims for a ‘bunch finish’ in September and a graduation party is being planned.

Back with a BOOM

The UK’s only organic awards edged back towards normality in July with a hybrid event – fifty guests at Protein Studios in Shoreditch and many more pitching in online.

Run with social distancing measures in place – guests seated and resisting the pre-pandemic party atmosphere with difficulty – the Soil Association’s BOOM Awards are back.

Welcome drinks and nibbles, an interactive DJ, a live demo by a mixologist and the main event hosted by food and drink writer and TV producer Andy Clarke (pictured with some of the BOOM winners) were also signs that full-on celebrations will return one day.

Maddocks Farm Organics’ floral salad took the Winner of Winner’s prize with a possible listing with Ocado, while Zaytoun Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil took the Nation’s Favourite award – an accolade voted for by the public. Other notable wins included Best Box Scheme to Coombe Farm Organic, Best Online Retailing to Abel & Cole and Best Independent Retailer – for the second time – to Bristol’s Better Food.

Pioneering sustainable and organic business Organico Realfoods celebrated at its Reading HQ with two notable wins – Organico Rosemary Ciappe won Best of Organic Snacks, described by the judges as “incredibly moreish, crispy and delicious”. And Nerone Black Rice came out on top in the Subcategory ‘Best of Store Cupboard – Everyday Essentials’.

The organic market has thrived in the pandemic and is now worth £2.79bn having grown by 12.5% in 2020, significantly more than non-organic at 8.9%.

“The return of the BOOM Awards in 2021 has landed at a time when the organic market is simply booming,” says Soil Association Certification Business Development Manager Clare McDermott. “It’s clear that habits made in the first lockdown have stuck, for example with demand in organic veg and fruit box schemes soaring, people increasingly choosing to shop in their local independent retailers or buying direct online for choice.

“The message that organic works with nature and not against it is also cutting through, with consumers wanting to make decisions which are good for nature and the planet.”

Full list of BOOM winners at

Who shares wins

Entries for the 2021 New Natural Business/Health Stores Ireland Awards 2021 are now open via online submission under five category headings for retailers: Innovation & Business Development, Community Engagement, Training & Education, Digital Marketing and Environmental Initiatives. Awards Day will be in early October.

Raw beauty

The new Wellness@Beanfreaks store in Cardiff City Centre’s Royal Arcade includes a fully stocked Raw Beauty Bar containing everything for customers to make their own facial cocktails from vegan lip balm to a clay facemask.

HFI Training Awards winners 2021

Jimmy Lee Richardson Award for top marks in the Diploma Part Two: Nicola Bourne, Naturalife, Dorchester.

HFMA/Roger Lane Scholarship Award for the Scholarship Candidate with the highest mark: Christina Sinclair, Food For Living, Dartford.

Teddie Marston Award for the Diploma Part Two Candidate who has shown exceptional understanding of the principles of health food and natural healing: Ljiljana Radencic, Evergreen Healthfoods, Galway.

NAHS Ian Martin Award for the best NAHS Candidate: Heather Cheney, The Natural Store, Helston.

Read the full story here...

Queen's favour

Two industry favourites have been honoured with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of International Trade – Terranova Nutrition with 120 nutritional and botanical products exported to more than 30 countries, and Natures Aid which is aiming for 50% of its sales to be from export markets by the end of 2023.

Natasha’s Law from October

The Government introduces Natasha’s Law on October 1. Currently, businesses are required to provide a summary of the allergenic ingredients contained within a pre-packed food rather than the entire ingredients list. However, businesses will now have to include all ingredient information for the product, whether they are allergenic or not, on all pre-packed foods for direct sale (PPDS).

There are 14 key allergens that businesses must inform customers of: cereals containing gluten, shellfish or crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soya and soybeans, milk, nuts, celery and celeriac, mustard, sesame seeds, added sulphur dioxide and sulphites, lupin, molluscs.

Businesses will now have to include all ingredient information for the product, whether they are allergenic or not and on all pre-packed foods for direct sale. Pre-packs should be labelled with a detailed description of the item alongside a full ingredients list, highlighting any of the 14 key allergens.

Grow organic

Viridian has partnered with the charity Garden Organic to open an organic demonstration garden at Ryton Gardens, Warwickshire, just a few miles from the vitamin and herbals company’s Daventry HQ.

Joints venture

HealthyDoesIt, the expert-led consumer nutrition website supported by the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association, has launched a second topical campaign, HealthyDoesJoints.

The latest ‘Health of the Nation Survey: Lockdown Edition’ commissioned by the HFMA found that over 20% of the UK population take vitamins and supplements for their joint health, making joints one of the top reasons for dietary supplementation.

Among the over 65s, nearly two in five people regularly take nutritional supplements to aid their joint health (39.5%). Hence the HealthyDoesJoints campaign which points consumers to the nation’s health food stores.

The campaign aims to support and engage the public via a new interactive quiz which allows users to create a customisable health plan from tailored expert advice.

Top winners

HayMax organic allergen barrier balm has been named Best Natural Allergy Relief Product 2021 in the Acquisition International Business Excellence Awards. And BetterYou D3000 Vitamin D Oral Spray was named product of the year for immune support in the NutraIngredients Awards 2021.

Business moves

Wessanen UK, the owner of Clipper Teas, Whole Earth, Kallo and Mrs Crimble’s, has changed its name to Ecotone UK, as part of the re-brand by its European-based parent company Wessanen. Meanwhile, Nestlé has acquired The Bountiful Company, including the Solgar and Nature’s Bounty brands, for $5.75 billion.

Grand prix

Weleda has been named a winner the Marie Claire Prix d’Excellence de la Beauté annual awards which honour innovative and effective international beauty products and pay tribute to brands that are giving back or putting sustainability at the top of their agenda.

Packing a punch

British boxing legend and World Champ Anthony Joshua OBE has become a key shareholder and ambassador for CBD/hemp supplier Love Hemp.

Health Food Institute 2021 winners announced

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Health Food Institute awards for the best Diploma results.

The Jimmy Lee Richardson Award for top marks in the Diploma Part Two goes to Nicola Bourne of Naturalife, Dorchester.

The Teddie Marston Award for the Diploma Part Two Candidate who has shown exceptional understanding of the principles of health food and natural healing goes to Ljiljana (Lily) Radencic (pictured) of Evergreen Healthfoods, Galway.

The HFMA/Roger Lane Scholarship Award for the Scholarship Candidate with the highest mark goes to Christina Sinclair of Food For Living, Dartford.

And the NAHS Ian Martin Award for the best NAHS Candidate goes to Heather Cheney of The Natural Store, Helston.

Look out for more details in the Summer issue of New Natural Business, due out next month.

Irish retailer awards

Health Stores Ireland is now accepting entries for the 2021 New Natural Business/Health Stores Ireland Awards via online submission over the coming weeks.

There are five category awards for retailers under the headings Innovation & Business Development, Community Engagement, Training & Education, Digital Marketing and Environmental Initiatives.

Health Stores Ireland President, Gerald Colfer, said: “This is that time when we ask retailers to share their achievements under a range of headings. While it is uncertain if we will be able to gather to celebrate our awards in person, we don’t want to miss this opportunity to shout from the rooftops about the value independent health food stores offer brands and communities”.

Lifetime achievement and industry awards are usually presented at a Health Stores Ireland annual gathering in September, and while they have genuine hope that this event will go ahead, if they can’t host it in person they will revert to a virtual event as in 2020. Product awards under five categories, long listed from staff picks Tried and Tested in Rude Health Magazine, will also be awarded at this event.

A transformation begins in Manchester

Right now in Albany Road, Manchester, a workers’ co-operative is undergoing a transformation. Established in 1996, Unicorn offers fresh food with an emphasis on organic, fair-trade and local produce. It’s closed for two weeks in April for a refurb and building work will continue through to July. Unicorn was 2017’s Best Food Retailer at the BBC Food & Farming Awards and the Soil Association’s 2018 Best Independent Retailer, followed in 2019 by Lancashire Life’s Independent Retailer of the Year award and Manchester Food & Drink Festival’s Food & Drink Retailer of the Year. We’ll bring more news later in the year.

Amazon closes in on Ireland

Irish retailers are bracing themselves for the arrival of in the coming months.

Brexit has brought some unexpected changes to the free flow of products into Ireland from UK based online shops. Now some brand-holders have already been flagged about Amazon’s intention to launch their dot-ie service which will remove some of those obstacles to trade.

Health Stores Ireland is calling on all brand holders to begin dialogue with Irish retailers to prepare for the imminent market changes to avoid a race to the bottom.

“Not all Irish retailers are in a place to step up and meet the challenge from online giants head-to head, and it’s probably best not to even try, but brand holders who value their place via the independent retail network need to start communicating their plans for these changes with retailers now”, said Health Stores Ireland Chairperson Martha Brennan.

Focus on digestive health

Following the success of’s New Year Revolution campaign, which encouraged people to ‘rethink, reset and restart’ their health, the HFMA website will follow up with a focus on digestive health in May.

Working with nutritionist Suzie Sawyer (pictured), the first campaign provided insight into specific consumer online patterns within the natural products arena during lockdown.

Now the health store-focused HealthyDoesIt team needs industry support to help the focus on digestive health to reach its full potential. Here are some things you can do:

Meanwhile, the Summer issue of New Natural Business will follow up this theme with articles on the many health benefits of a healthy gut. Don’t miss it.

Tree time

Weleda has been named Eco Brand of the Year in the Beauty Shortlist Awards 2021 for the company’s centenary campaign with the charity TreeSisters – pledging to plant one million trees to mark 100 Years of Weleda.

Name check

The Nature’s Bounty Co rebranded earlier this year as The Bountiful Company with manufacturing, packaging, warehouse, distribution and administration in the US, Canada and UK. Brands include Nature’s Bounty and Solgar among others.

Max awareness

Organic drug-free allergen barrier balm HayMax is supporting Allergy UK’s Spring Allergy Awareness Week (April 26-30) with sponsorship of the online Allergy House and allergies fact sheets and supoort to help reach more people living with allergies.

Are you worthy?

The 2021 Sustainable Food Awards are now open to entries with a closing date of May 5. Categories are New Sustainable Product, Sustainable Ingredient, Sustainable Packaging, Sustainability Pioneer and Sustainability Leadership. Winners announced June 10. Email [email protected].

Lockdown casualty

Cardiff health food store Beanfreaks has closed its city centre store in St Mary Street but retains its suburb stores in Roath and Canton. The family-run business of 40 years is considering a smaller store in one of the city centre’s arcades.

CBD deadline

CBD products that do not have a supporting product safety application cannot remain on the shelves now that the Food Standard Agency’s deadline of March 31 for validated novel food authorisation applications has passed.

Reaching out

#BackforGood is a campaign by Reach regional newspapers offering a £1 million support package to kickstart hard-hit businesses. The UK’s largest news publisher is helping businesses from all sectors reconnect with customers as lockdown measures are eased by offering free marketing support.

BOOM Awards entry is free to small businesses

Recognising the major challenges and disruptions faced due to COVID-19, Soil Association Certification is offering small businesses free entry to the BOOM Awards (Best of Organic Market)

The offer is open to SA-certified businesses with organic sales under £250,000 and limited to two free entries per business.

Back for a fourth year, the BOOMs – the UK’s only organic awards – are expanding to celebrate excellence across organic farming, beauty & wellbeing, fashion & textiles as well as food & drink, reflecting the range of organic-certified businesses working to restore nature, health and a safe climate.

The Awards are partnered by Ocado and associate sponsor is Yeo Valley. There are also various category sponsors.

Read the full story here...

Judges order lockdown insurance pay-outs

Retailers whose insurers refused to pay out for business interruption during lockdowns have been handed a lifeline.

Thousands of small business will receive pay-outs following a Supreme Court ruling which could cost the insurance sector hundreds of millions of pounds.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) brought a test case in which eight insurers agreed to take part in proceedings.

One of the insurers set to make significant pay-outs is Hiscox, which was challenged by 30,000 policyholders as part of the case. Other insurers involved in the test case were Arch, Argenta, MS Amlin, QBE and RSA, but as many as 60 insurers sold similar products. They will now pay out on many of the policies.

Huw Evans, director general of the Association of British Insurers, said: "All valid claims will be settled as soon as possible and in many cases the process of settling claims has begun.”

The Financial Ombudsman Service and courts in Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to use the judgment to rule on other similar cases with policies predating the first lockdown.

NAHS climbs aboard rates campaign

The National Association of Health Stores has teamed up with a campaign to axe business rates until next year.

It has joined the British Independent Retailers’ Association campaign, pointing out that retailers should not have to face the reintroduction of business rates in April when lockdowns continue to seriously damage business.

Meanwhile, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced in January that 600,000 retail, hospitality and leisure sites will be able to claim a one-off grant of up to £9,000. This will cost the Treasury £4.6bn.

He also also announced a further £594m for local authorities and devolved administrations.

Footfall across the UK dropped 46.1% in the five weeks to January 2, according to BRC-ShopperTrak. High streets were the worst performing location for retailers during December. London was the hardest hit, with footfall down 58%.

Weleda is 100

After a century of pioneering ethical and sustainable practices in the production of natural cosmetics and medicines, Weleda is celebrating its 100th year. The company is marking this major milestone with a year-long series of virtual and real events inspired by the garden, which is where the story of Weleda began and which remains at the heart of the brand today.

Foodbank champ

A Fife medical herbalist is reaching out to people in need during lockdown by offering online mini-consultations for a minimum donation of £5 to local foodbanks.

Keren Brynes MacLean (pictured), who owns the practice at Health Food and More in Kirkcaldy, says she isn’t able to offer in person consultations under lockdown, but she’s seen a marked rise in the need for help with mental health issues.

HayMax does Cress

HayMax, the allergen barrier balm, has moved its warehousing and fulfilment to Cress Natural Products ( and has tasked the company to manage HayMax sales to the independent channels. The move marks a major step in the development of this long-established British brand, giving a better service to independents and enabling further expansion in other countries.

Take a break, Mike

Mike Abrahams of Wild Oats, Bristol, has taken a step back so he can finally enjoy retirement.

With Mike are three of the new team, (L-R) HR manager Don Dickinson, Mike Abrahams, retail operations manager Heather Stephens and store manager Alicia Stephens.

Help in a crisis

Buckinghamshire-based NKD Living has partnered with Crisis UK to help raise awareness of the homelessness charity’s work. On top of setting a fundraising target, NKD Living founders Dr Samuel West and Sophie West also plan to volunteer at one of the charity’s Skylight centres later in the year. NKD Living specialises in natural sugar replacements as well as low-carb baking supplies.

Spotlight on Bristol

Bristol Bites Back Better is a campaign empowering Bristolians to create a more sustainable food system while celebrating the city’s food diversity.

In a bid to spark positive action and change, the campaign provides individuals, communities, organisations and food businesses with a way to access information, share ideas and hear food-related stories from across the city.

Sponsored by Essential Trading, GENeco and Lovely Drinks, several organisations including the city council have combined with the goal of seeing Bristol recognised as a Gold Sustainable Food City this Spring.

Read the full story here...

Planet Organic goes nationwide

London-based Planet Organic introduced nationwide delivery for all its products in time for Christmas.

This included hundreds of unique and exclusive goods from keto donuts to London-brewed kombuchas and kefirs, as well as more traditional organic groceries such as eggs and fresh fruit and vegetables.

The original organic supermarket chain has long offered online shopping, but this is the first time the range has been made available for delivery nationwide.

Planet Organic currently serves the capital through its 11 London stores. Now it gets to meet the national demand for natural and organic health food by distributing the entirety of its range across the country with a chosen-day fulfilment service.

“Our customers outside London frequently ask for nationwide delivery on our fresh food and drink range, from kombucha to organic fruit and veg,” says CEO Peter Marsh (pictured).

“We’ve invested heavily in digital, digital marketing and fulfilment logistics as well as in the packaging solutions and the recycling systems put in place around them.”

Planet Organic delivery uses a combination of Forestry Commission-certified card, recycled papers, compostable bio plastics and wool insulation materials, all of which can be recycled domestically or collected by the retailer for reuse. Crucially, there’s no need for refrigerated vans.

For chilled product packaging, Planet Organic uses sheep’s wool insulation liners and pouches along with water-filled ice packs, all made by Woolcool, all reusable and ultimately recyclable.

The wool used is a waste product from the food industry and has not been treated with chemicals, making it suitable for composting. Planet Organic will reuse and recycle wool liners and ice packs, and has set up a customer returns scheme.

Natural cosmetics get a new standard

The NATRUE Standard for natural and organic cosmetics has been updated to make it an even more valuable asset for consumers and beauty manufacturers alike.

Sustainability is an essential cornerstone for new product development, so NATRUE has incorporated additional requirements to ensure that respect for people, the environment and biodiversity is addressed.

As a new member of the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil, the NATRUE marque requires that natural or derived natural substances from palm oil and palm kernel oil must come from RSPO or other certified sustainable supply chains. All raw materials presently used in NATRUE-certified products will have a transitional period of 24 months (until 31 January 2022) to be either certified or approved.

For finished products, producers have until the end of January 2024 to formulate their products using NATRUE-approved or NATRUE-certified raw materials.

NATRUE has simplified its three certification levels to just two: natural or organic. In line with this decision, NATRUE has adapted the formulation requirements in the standard to facilitate innovation and development while ensuring that natural and organic product claims remain authentic and meet consumer expectations.

Products already certified under the phased-out certification level ‘natural with organic portion’ can still be identified as such in the market and in NATRUE’s database until the product’s certificate expires. Upon recertification, a product meeting the requirements of level ‘natural with organic portion’ will be recertified either as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’, subject to its compliance with the set requirements for each level of certification.

Health Stores Ireland names top retailers

Health Stores Ireland in association with Better Retailing Magazine has named the best retailers of 2020 in five categories, together with special recognition and best product awards.

The retailer awards are normally presented at Vitality Expo in Dublin but this year were judged by an independent panel and presented remotely.

Alan McGrath, Health Stores Ireland organiser, said the retail awards demonstrated members’ resilience and focus on excellence. Three new stores were opened by Health Stores Ireland members in 2020.

“The core values of education, community, environment, innovation and empathy assisted retailers through the most difficult challenges they are likely to face,” he said. “The sector will emerge from 2020 in good health.”

Read the full story here...

Retailing Better Online - a vital tool for health food stores

Most businesses struggle with change while leaders embrace it. That's as true for independent retailers as it is for the biggest multinational. And no one can deny that we are undergoing the most monumental change anyone has seen since the War.

In 2019, more than 80% of consumers were shopping online compared to 53% ten years ago (ONS). That's now old news and the figure is probably now close to 100% and those that were already shopping this way are doing even more of it.

Better Retailing Magazine helps independents to keep ahead of the game and understands the way business has suddenly and dramatically shifted for independent natural & organic grocers, health stores and natural lifestyle retailers in the UK and Ireland.

That's why we launched Retailing Better Online back in the early summer of 2020.

COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way people shop and independent natural health and organic retailers have been, until now, slow to embrace e-commerce due to a traditionally loyal and local physical customer base.

But most now recognise that failure to sell online or up their website and social media game could eventually lead to closure. Yet many do not have the in-house skills or resources to develop bespoke online shops, while others are simply daunted by an operation they perceive as too technical to grasp.

Retailing Better Online fills that knowledge gap by offering guidance on the basics of website design and build, how to set up an online shop, where to find cost-effective solutions, how to improve customer experience and how to promote and expand your business online.

Combining a physical store with a vibrant online presence, if done properly, will reap the rewards every health store is seeking through and beyond the pandemic, which has changed the way almost everyone shops.

And Retailing Better Online will help independents to revive and thrive in the New Normal.

Health stores flock to new HFMA site

The new site has listed almost 950 independent stores to help consumers find the natural health products they need.

Launched in August by the Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA) in collaboration with the National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) and the Health Food Institute (HFI), the awareness campaign encourages people to access the expertise and high-quality natural products available from their local health store.

A PR and social media marketing campaign funded by the HFMA is under way while member companies and other stakeholders are being encouraged to help promote HealthyDoesIt via their own social and digital channels.

“This is the first time in my recollection that the industry has come together in such a collaborative way with one clear, shared objective,” said HFMA Executive Director Graham Keen.

HFMA Communications Manager Esther Mills-Roberts added: “HealthyDoesIt is a fantastic opportunity to capture the essence of what health stores have to offer to consumers. The heart of every campaign is a push towards high street health stores, and we are working in partnership with the NAHS to create effective strategies to achieve this.

“Our store finder is open to all Independent Retailers, so please do get in touch to be added to the store finder and to receive the digital marketing toolkit.”

Retailers wanting to secure their listing should email [email protected]

Big freeze

Soil Association Certification has frozen fees for all licensees until the end of March 2021. All core fees for organic schemes across food, farming, beauty and textiles will remain at 2019 levels. It’s also offering free entry for the BOOM Awards to any licensee with organic sales turnover of under £250,000 – open for entries in December.

Going Wild for charity

Bristol store Wild Oats hit on a win-win charity initiative, launched in October. ‘Buy 2 Take 1’ encourages customers to pay for an extra item at the till, which is then donated to a local charity on their behalf.

Owner Mike Abrahams explained: “We're in touch with some great causes such as Missing Link Housing who have safe houses around Bristol dedicated to women and children who have had to leave home because of domestic violence. And the Soup Run Trust which ensures food and essential supplies are made available to the homeless in Bristol.

“At first we thought anything food and drink, so coffee, tea, tinned food, pasta. But then we thought how a donation of something like moisturiser or even baby nappies could make a difference to someone.”

Bargain courses from HFI

The Health Food Institute is offering its diploma courses at half price until the end of November.

The training is an essential part of health store staff’s ability to advise customers and sell products legally by following the HFI Protocol, as well as gaining a thorough knowledge of health and nutrition.

Diploma Part One is on offer at £97.50 (normal price £195) and Part Two £175 (normal price £350). Enrol online at

New champion for Vitamin D

An international alliance of doctors and researchers has been formed to put pressure on governments to increase the recommended vitamin D intake to reduce numbers requiring hospital treatment for COVID-19. Led by coronavirus research scientist Dr Gareth Davies of Imperial College, London, the group says the UK recommendation of 400iu daily should be increased tenfold to 4,000iu to ensure a healthy immune response.

Ireland’s health stores broadcast a warm welcome

Health Stores Ireland’s national TV and radio media campaign reached more than two million viewers and achieved its aim, according to chairperson Martha Brennan.

The core message was ‘Health food stores are at the heart of your community’ and the call to action, ‘Look for the Health Stores Ireland badge on the door.’

“In bringing brand holders, suppliers, and retailers together to deliver the project to its completion we have demonstrated that strength is found in unity,” said Martha.

Health Stores Ireland ran a peak-time national radio version of the advert during the campaign and has plans to run this version periodically throughout the year to keep the message in circulation. The YouTube version of the advert generated 1,800 views in just two weeks after uploading.

The advert was filmed over several days at three shops in the west of Ireland, partly financed through crowdfunding with support at concept stage from Evergreen Healthfoods, Wholefoods Ltd, Independent Irish Health Foods, The Natural Medicine Company, Viridian Nutrition, Sonnentor, Nuzest, Clearspring, Synerchi Kombucha and Wiley’s Finest.

“It’s probably the first time that a group of truly independent retailers have been able to band together to run a TV campaign,” added Martha.

Online revolution as VegfestUK finds a new niche

The VegfestUK series makes an innovative online debut on August 14 with the Summerfest Trade and Media Day (10am-8pm) when health stores can attend webinars, talks and product presentations, plus video links to exhibitors, live chat rooms and sampling by request.

Summerfest itself takes place over the whole weekend of August 15-16 with attendance free to the public who can enjoy a programme of speakers and entertainers for a series of talks, live streams, live comedy and music, health, fitness and cookery demos.

The event will stay open beyond the weekend for a further month to access exhibitors and some of the talks and demos.

Register free for the Trade Day at

Irish health stores hopeful for awards craic

The Health Stores Ireland/Better Retailing Magazine Retailer Awards will be presented at the RDS Dublin as part on a special trade gathering in early November.

Irish retailers are submitting their entries for adjudication in these sections: Innovation & Business Development, Community Engagement, Training & Education, Digital Marketing and Environmental Initiatives.

Health Stores Ireland Chair Martha Brennan, said: “There have been enormous challenges facing health food stores over the last few months. The way that retailers have excelled under each award heading has been the reason that the sector has navigated through the Covid crisis so successfully and is now looking to the future with confidence and even embracing new opportunities. The annual awards presentations will be a time to celebrate sector success.”

Health Stores Ireland will be also be holding its AGM over the weekend. Organiser Alan McGrath said the timing of the event and the gathering will provide an opportunity for the health food sector to take stock of changes and plan for a sustainable future.

“We remain hopeful that we might even be able to party, just a little bit, and within guidelines of course,” he smiled

HFI online training keeps show on the road

While the annual Health Food Institute awards and lecture was a casualty of the pandemic this year, the core training is unaffected by the pandemic as its new online learning went live in March.

That means the Professional Diploma Parts One and Two and the Supplier Course are all available online – details at, email [email protected] or phone 0115 976 7280.

These are the awards that were presented in June:

  • The Jimmy Lee Richardson Award (£300) for the highest marks in the HFI Professional Diploma Course, Part Two
  • The HFMA/Roger Lane Scholarship Award (£200) for the top mark in the online and accredited HFI Nutritional Adviser's Award
  • The Teddie Marston Award (£150) to the Diploma Part Two candidate who has shown exceptional understanding of the principles and core values of health food and natural healing
  • The Ian Martin/NAHS Student Of The Year Award to the NAHS Candidate who achieved the highest marks in 2019 in Diploma Part One

From left to right above: Kathy Rogers of Health at Hand, Arklow, Co. Wicklow, winner of the Jimmy Lee Richardson award; Brigita Simkute (left) of Evergreen Health Foods at Oranmore, Co. Galway, receives the Teddie Marston Award from manager Helena; Cheryl Simpson of Highland Health Store, Perth, with owner Darren Ritchie and the HFMA/Roger Lane Scholarship Award; Ellie Musson of Elixir Health Foods, Wadebridge, with the Ian Martin/NAHS Student of the Year Award

Be a scholar

HFI is currently inviting applications to take up one of this year's HFMA/Roger Lane Scholarships to complete the HFI Professional Diploma Part One (worth £195). If you would like to rise to the challenge please contact Alison on [email protected] to request an application form.

Card sharp

Card payments were used more than cash for the first time ever in the UK last year, while contactless transactions have skyrocketed in recent months due to Covid-19, Barclaycard has revealed. Card and contactless payments accounted for 51% of all transactions in the UK in 2019, marking the first time digital payment methods were used more than cash.

Love you, NHS

Viridian Nutrition is running a 'Love the NHS, Love Yourself' campaign to increase awareness of Health Food Stores as a community resource and hub for preventative care.

It includes a radio advertisement pointing consumers to an online resource centre at

COVID course

Free to NAHS and HFI members, £25+VAT to non-members, is the NAHS/HFI Covid-19 Hygiene Certificate Course to cover your legal responsibilities.

Visit or email [email protected].

NAHS responds to BBC reporting on Holland & Barrett petition

Recently the BBC reported on a petition created by Holland & Barrett (H&B) employees who claim that the health food store chain is neither 'essential' nor protecting them sufficiently during the coronavirus crisis. The petition is calling for H&B to close all their stores.

NAHS responded to the BBC as follows:

”Categorised by the Government as an essential food service, independent health food stores are proud to be on the frontline in this crisis, helping their communities get through this challenging time by ensuring they have access to the specialist dietary foods, food supplements and advice they rely on to help manage their health. This specialist advice and product range are not available from supermarkets, pharmacies or online," says NAHS Chair, Gary Trickett.

While H&B are not members of the NAHS, the association represents many of the 850+ independently-owned health food stores across the UK.

Trickett continues: "The NAHS can assure you that independent health food stores are committed to ensuring that both customers and staff are protected in line with strict Government guidelines and that they take their responsibilities regarding hygiene and duty of care very seriously. Independent health food stores across the country remain open and many are providing additional community support services including local home deliveries and Call & Collect. The public can be reassured that independent health food stores are proactively supporting their physical and mental wellbeing at this time.”

NAHS free membership offer

The National Association of Health Stores are offering a free membership deal to help independent health stores through the COVID-19 crisis.

NAHS are offering all independent health stores complimentary access to all benefits until 30 June 2020:

  • Unlimited legal advice on employment law, HR and Health & Safety
  • 3 month free e-commerce facility to sell online
  • Access to exclusive NAHS Facebook page for frequent updates on legislation and advice
  • Access to employment resources via online portal
  • Inclusion on NAHS findmyhealthstore app
  • Access to NAHS promotional videos for use on social media platforms

To take advantage of this special offer, email [email protected] quoting 'COVID-19 MEMBERSHIP’

Why health food stores can remain open during this crisis

When Boris Johnson ordered shops, pubs and restaurants to close on March 23, the UK’s natural health industry Associations had already been on the case for several days.

The National Association of Health Stores had mobilised members and non-members alike to lobby their MPs and Graham Keen, Executive Director of the Health Food Manufacturers Association, had engaged in fruitful discussions with the PM’s Business Advisor three days earlier.

So within hours the NAHS was able to make this statement: “Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation closing all non-essential shops in an effort to combat coronavirus, the Government has now confirmed that health food stores are included as ‘essential services’ and should remain open during the three-week lockdown to support your customers dietary and health food needs.

“We would like to thank all retailers who took the time to lobby their MPs to define health food stores as ‘an essential service’ and we must grab this opportunity with both hands to show that health food stores are a vital part of local communities and will pull out all the stops to assist their customers during an emergency.”

HFMA has also been lobbying to make sure the sector’s employees are considered to be ‘Key Workers’.

For the record, official guidance says restaurants and cafés must close but food delivery and takeaway can remain operational. All retail must close apart from ‘supermarkets and other food shops, health shops, pharmacies including non-dispensing pharmacies, petrol stations, bicycle shops, home and hardware shops, laundrettes and dry cleaners, bicycle shops, garages, car rentals, pet shops, corner shops, newsagents, post offices, and banks’.

If your store is not a Member of the NAHS, join now by contacting Avril McCracken (email: [email protected]) or access the NAHS membership application at

A bigger Planet

Planet Organic swooped to buy As Nature Intended, the chain that was started by the founder of supermarkets firm Iceland, Sir Malcolm Walker. The move has almost doubled the size of Planet at a stroke, from eight stores to 15 in London.

ANI notched up sales of around £11m last year in organic food and health and beauty products, headed by Walker’s daughter Caroline Gooding. The seven stores will be rebranded as Planet Organic, and join the new owner’s eight existing sites.

Natural & Organic Products Europe will return to ExCel London in April 2021

Natural & Organic Products Europe 2020 has been cancelled following an announcement that the exhibition venue, ExCel London, is to be converted into a temporary NHS-operated hospital, known as NHS Nightingale.

Natural & Organic Products Europe will return next year on Sunday 18th and Monday 19th April 2021.

Keeping up with demand

Wholesalers have been doing their best to keep up with demand and throughout March were reporting that many manufacturers were struggling to supply sufficient quantity of key products.

Retailers, too, have been forced to make adjustments not just by selling online but by taking phone and email orders for home delivery or ‘drive-by’ collection.

Paul Rideout, Sales & Marketing Director at The Health Store, told BRM in mid-March: “We have a range of over 12,000 products and anything that’s associated with immune defence and all hand sanitiser brands are experiencing much larger than normal increase in demand, in some cases as much as 3,000%.

“However it’s difficult to quantify actual increase in volume because on a lot of products we just cannot keep up with the demand and manufacturers can’t supply enough to satisfy it!

“It’s not just immune defence and hygiene products either. Stockpiling is driving sales increases across products like nappies, baby food and general food essentials. The inventory of associated products increases as the consumers’ perception of their wants and needs expand.”

Lucy Redfern, Managing Director at Wholesale Health, commented on demand for immune defence products: “In our 20 years of trading we’ve never seen anything like it.

“In particular, Vitamin C is the most requested with liposomal Vitamin C being the most popular. We are having to limit orders of Good Health Naturally’s ‘Cure C + Quercetin’ to ensure every shop has some stock.

“The other product on almost every single order is Good Health Naturally ‘Hydrosol Silver Spray’ and ‘Gel’ [anti-septic and anti-microbial properties]. This saw an increase of over 350% in the first two weeks of March. Alongside these we have about 10 other immune support products that are also experiencing extremely high demand.

“The pressure is definitely on the manufactures, logistics and us to keep the shelves stocked for the foreseeable future.”

Home and Away Task Force nips over to Ireland

The National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) recently joined forces with its Irish counterpart IAHS for the very first NAHS Roadshow sponsored by Patron Viridian Nutrition. A return visit by Irish stores is planned post COVID-19.

UK retailers Best Health Food Store based in Kent and Sussex, Noah’s Health Store (Wallington), Abaca Health Store (Liverpool), Sheaf Street Health Store and The Healthy Life Company (both Daventry) all enjoyed the overwhelming Irish hospitality of health stores in the Cork area and the chance to view different successful trading practices.

First up was Organico, a health store, bakery, café and gallery in the picturesque West Cork town of Bantry – and featured in our Winter issue. Run by the Dare sisters Hannah and Rachel, it is one of the best known shops in the country. The sisters have recently refurbished and added an extensive bulk filling station element.

Then on to Olive Branch Health Store and Twig Zero Waste Shop in Clonakilty, run by Olive Finn and her family for more than 12 years. Last year Olive took a giant leap forward by acquiring nearby premises and opening a dedicated zero waste and bulk refill shop. This has been a resounding success and has been a destination for many people both within the trade and consumers to see how the concept performs. Ireland’s national TV station, RTE, recently featured Twig in a primetime TV series.

An Tobairin, Bandon, is run by Mary Wedel and is one of the longest established stores in West Cork. Mary has moved her shop on a couple of occasions and recently she took the brave step of taking her store from the high street to more fitting and unique premises on a side street. This has allowed Mary to expand into other areas and to date these all revolve around adding educational events for the community of loyal shoppers that have stuck with An Tobairin from the beginning. Mary puts a big focus on arranging classes, workshops and after hours events alongside a well-stocked food-focused shop.

NAHS Chairman Gary Trickett said: “We are highly delighted that this first road show was such an outstanding success. The stores that attended reported that they have taken many ideas back to their own stores to implement and benefitted from networking both with the Irish stores and with the other UK participants.

“We would like to thank Alan McGrath and the committee of the IAHS and the Irish stores involved for helping make this event so successful and we look forward to their reciprocal visit later in the year.”

Barclaycard to enable UK retailers to accept new £45 Contactless Limit

Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation's credit and debit card transactions, will be rolling out the deployment of the new £45 contactless limit across UK retailers from 1 April 2020.

The payments provider is supporting the increased threshold to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Adjusting the contactless limit from £30 to £45 will allow more customers to make payments without touching card terminals or handling cash.

Deployment will be prioritised for retailers in key sectors, including grocery & supermarket stores, bakeries, pharmacies and petrol service stations. Barclaycard will be supporting the deployment of the higher contactless limit to other merchants in due course.

Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments said: "It's more important than ever for merchants and their customers to be mindful of their collective health and safety. We are proud to be taking a leadership position in the UK by commencing the deployment of a higher contactless threshold. By supporting the ability of customers to spend up to £45 via contactless, we are playing a part in helping UK consumers to pay safely and securely in these challenging times".

Update from NAHS - healthfood stores included as 'essential services'

The NAHS has issued the following statement:

"Following the Prime Ministers address to the nation closing all non-essential shops in an effort to combat coronavirus, the Govt has now confirmed that healthfood stores are included as 'essential services' and should remain open during the 3-week lockdown to support your customers dietary and healthfood needs.

"We would like to thank all retailers who took the time to lobby their MPs to define healthfood stores as 'an essential service' and we must grab this opportunity with both hands to show that healthfood stores are a vital part of local communities and will pull out all the stops to assist their customers during an emergency.

"NAHS will continue to advise members with up to date coronavirus information going forward.

"To become a member contact [email protected]

Urgent request from NAHS to lobby your MP

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 in allowing individuals to purchase the necessary supplements and other products they require at a time of crucial importance.

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 and they have written to the Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill MP, and other Government stakeholders to request a meeting.

Health stores should take the opportunity to similarly lobby their own constituency MPs as a matter of urgency (this morning). Please contact your MPs through their email or telephone first and follow up with a letter.

Natural & Organic Products Europe has new dates

The Natural & Organic Products Europe show is now due to take place on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th July at Excel London.

An update on their website on 9th March also said:

"The health and safety of all our visitors and exhibitors is our primary concern and priority, and we are following the advice provided by the Government and Public Health England. We are also monitoring the information from WHO and the international trade show community through the Association of Exhibition Organisers and UFI."

CBD novel food deadline announced

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has given the CBD industry a deadline of March 31 next year to submit applications for novel food authorisations. After that date CBD products that don't have a valid application behind them will have to be taken off the shelves.

The Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA) has a meeting with the FSA on February 25 to discuss "a pragmatic approach", emphasising that there is no evidence to suggest that CBD poses any food safety risk.

An HFMA statement said: "The Food Standards Agency will be meeting with us shortly and we are looking forward to a productive discussion with them. The FSA has previously stated on several occasions that, to date, it has no evidence to suggest consumption of CBD poses any food safety risk to consumers, so we are confident that a proportionate approach to these issues should continue.

"We acknowledge the challenges facing regulators and the responsible industry we represent, and we will be working with our member companies and the FSA to agree on a pragmatic approach to addressing those concerns when we meet."

Business rates cut for small shops

On Monday 27 January 2020, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury made a Written Ministerial Statement announcing additional business rates measures that will apply in England from 1 April 2020.

The Government will increase the retail discount from one-third to 50 per cent, extend that discount to cinemas and music venues, extend the duration of the local newspapers office space discount, and introduce an additional discount for pubs.

The increase in the level of the retail discount from one-third to 50 per cent will apply in 2020/21 for eligible retail businesses occupying a property with a rateable value less than £51,000.

Three out of five Brits are vitamin D deficient

As many as three in five UK adults could have sub-optimal levels of vitamin D in the winter, according to new research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Deficiency puts people at risk of developing long-term health conditions including osteoporosis and other musculoskeletal problems. The percentage of adults with sufficient levels was just 40%.

The National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) has already recommended that children and young people supplement vitamin D all year round to support overall heath.

Best Health Food Shop to open a fifth store

Reigning Secret Shopper champion Best Health Food Shop has opened its fourth store in the South East – with a fifth on the cards before Christmas.

‘It’s Only Natural’ in Uckfield, Sussex, was bought and refurbished as Best Health Food Shop to join the two stores in Tunbridge Wells and the original in Shoreham. The fifth will be in Worthing.

Owners Len Glenville (left) and partner Mel Beard (right) are pictured with Len’s parents Marilyn and Kriss Glenville outside the Uckfield store, which was opened by Marilyn and local mayor, Cllr Spike Mayhew.

Earlier this year one of the Tunbridge Wells stores won the Better Retailing Magazine/Health Food Institute retailer award for the highest score in our Secret Shopper series.

Call for higher standards

A massive response by the UK food and drink industry has provided evidence to shape the Government’s proposed National Food Strategy, emphasizing the importance of food safety, sustainability, positive nutrition, ethical welfare and consumer preference. It’s the first major review of the UK’s food system in 75 years.

Sir Charlie does Daventry

John Lewis Chairman, Sir Charlie Mayfield, visited Daventry in November to find out how the local Retail Forum works.

Within days of hearing about the Northamptonshire market town’s forum from NAHS and BIRA committee member Cheryl Thallon, he scheduled a visit to see for himself.

The Daventry Retail Forum is a loose alliance of 80-plus independent retailers with the ambition to increase footfall in the town centre by creating and connecting with local events and boosting social media awareness via ‘Discover Daventry’.

During his three-hour tour of the town centre, Sir Charlie visited Sheaf Street Health Store before a bite of lunch at Bread & Circus artisan bakery.

Sir Charlie Mayfield is the Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership which includes the Waitrose supermarket chain. He was the Government-appointed Chair of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills from 2010 to 2016 and Chair of the British Retail Consortium from 2014 to 2016, and was knighted for services to business in 2013.

Premature probiotics

Scientists have concluded research that shows adding probiotic strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium to milk given to premature babies appears to decrease the risk of serious gut problems and infections with no safety issues. The study was reported in Archives of Disease in Childhood’s foetal and neonatal edition.

Plant powered expo will build on Veganuary momentum

The newest lifestyle festival to hit the capital, Plant Powered Expo will be storming London Olympia straight after Veganuary.

The ultimate fiesta for sumptuous plant-based food, sustainable entertainment and ethically-conscious living, the Expo (February 1 & 2) will be the focus for people aiming to continue their New Year’s resolutions and explore their vegan options to the full.

The stars of the show will be whole, minimally-processed foods that avoid animal products, especially vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, legumes, seeds and nuts.

International cookery classes, lifestyle projects and fitness workshops will be among the 235 stalls while the Global Food Court will host a stunning list of caterers offering sumptuous dishes from around the world.

Plant Powered Expo can be followed across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, @PlantPoweredXpo or online.

CBD summit in London

Companies and organisations concerned about the confusion surrounding CBD legality in Europe and the UK are invited to a conference in London on January 30.

The Whitehouse Consultancy and Legal Foods will be hosting the event at the Royal Society of Medicine to discuss past, present and future challenges surrounding the use of CBD in active nutrition. It will be chaired by journalist, analyst and communications specialist Shane Starling.

Key industry experts from the US, Canada and Europe will give an overview of the legal status of CBD across the globe and what the market will look like in the near future.

Confirmed speakers include Dr Douglas Kalman, Erica W. Stump, Peter Wennström and Austen Stevenson. Tickets are £780 with special prices for members of academia. Contact [email protected]

Probiota heads to Dublin for 2020

A major conference focusing on prebiotics, probiotics and the microbiome will roll into Dublin on February 10-12.

To be held at the Clayton Hotel in Burlington Road, Dublin, the Probiota Series brings together experts and leaders from global industries and academia under one roof to present top level insights and provide networking opportunities.

It is hosted by different European cities annually.

Playing safe with CBD

A new trade association has been set up to help steer a legally compliant, socially responsible and innovative CBD industry that prioritises customer safety.

The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) was set up after consultation with key stakeholders and brings together leading businesses and experts committed to creating a regulated industry in the UK, governed by a new Quality Charter.

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).

Read the full story here...

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 [email protected].

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).

Read the full story here...

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,

A.Vogel and the industry mourn the loss of Sarah Daly

Sarah Daly first appeared on the A.Vogel scene in 1992 and remained with the company until her tragic passing in July.

Starting as a sales rep, she always prided herself on being able to sell A.Vogel products ‘naked’ – without any marketing, or even any packaging at that stage, just with the herbal stories told in her inimitable style.

She understood right from the start the importance of the ethics of A.Vogel, and ensured that these continued to keep their position at the forefront of people’s minds. This reflected her own position, completely dedicated to environmental issues and animal welfare.

For retailers, her commitment to the environment was probably most obvious through the Bumblebee Campaign that she initiated for A.Vogel – one that roused immense support.

As the A.Vogel team grew and the product range increased, Sarah was made Sales Manager in 1998. She relocated to Scotland, and was endlessly appreciative of the view from her bedroom window, across the water to Arran.

“We cherish memories of Sarah’s crazy dancing and moments of hilarity, but we could also rely on her for problem-solving business issues and providing a unique angle on practical questions,” said A.Vogel’s Janyn Tan. “For many retailers she personified A.Vogel, and from the company’s perspective she had a depth of experience that can’t be replaced.”

Social Prescribing presents an opportunity for health stores

The role of local health food shops in NHS England’s Social Prescribing network has been highlighted at the Health Food Institute’s anniversary lecture and awards event in London.

Keynote speaker Dr Michael Dixon, National Clinical Lead for Social Prescription, explained the new appointment of so-called ‘Link Workers’ who provide a local hub for Social Prescribing.

Read the full story here...

Better Retailing Magazine Secret Shopper Award results announced

The Better Retailing Magazine Awards are run in conjunction with the Health Food Institute to reward excellence in health food retailing. Every year, our Secret Shoppers visit health stores across the UK and Ireland and mark them in five sections - first impressions, store layout, personal attention, check out and overall impression.

Our winning store is Best Health Food Shop in Tunbridge Wells. Our Secret Shopper said: "Groceries, household necessities, pampering products and even gifts could all be purchased here and abolish the need to patronise supermarkets."

This year's runners up are 8th Day in Manchester and Nature's Health Store in Penrith.

Irish retailer awards – call for entries

Health Stores Ireland has launched the annual retailer and product awards in conjunction with JFN Productions and Better Retailing Magazine.

There are five retailer award categories with awards for shortlisted shops and overall winners in each category.

An awards party will form part of the Irish health food industry showcase, Vitality Expo at the RDS Dublin (September 28 & 29) where key figures, influencers and suppliers from the sector will join with retailers for a celebration of the best of the natural health sector.

The five categories are:

  • Innovation and Business Development
  • Community Engagement
  • Training and Education
  • Environmental Initiatives
  • Digital Marketing

Retailers are encouraged to ensure their social media platforms reflect their achievements. Last year’s winners were Evergreen Galway; Natural Health Store, Wexford; The Hopsack, Dublin; The Quay Co-op, Cork and Only Natural, Wexford.

Shop owners and branch managers can enter their stores via an online form being circulated by Health Stores Ireland. Entries will be judged by an independent panel with shortlisted shops and winners announced at the awards ceremony on the Saturday evening of the show.

Deadline for entries is 5pm on June 30. Enquiries: [email protected]

Complete this simple online form, outlining your achievements under each heading, to enter.

Packaging - advantage health stores

Health food suppliers and retailers have made giant strides in the war against plastic.

They are aware that the vast majority of UK consumers are doing their level best to cut their plastic waste, and almost half would pay more for eco-friendly packaging.

YouGov research shows that households want to get behind the eco drive and are therefore prime targets for health stores leading the way in finding alternatives to single-use plastics.

Read the full story here...

Treasury MPs meet independents over business rates

Perhaps someone in the corridors of power is listening to independent retailers about the issue of business rates after all.

Members of the Commons’ Treasury Committee, led by MP Nicky Morgan, travelled to Birmingham in May to meet retailers at the British Independent Retailers Association (bira).

Among the retailers suggesting a new system was Viridian founder Cheryl Thallon, owner of Sheaf Street Health Store in Daventry.

Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira, said: “The MPs really listened and agreed that significant change is needed. We were pleased to hear that bira’s proposal for a business rates allowance was heard, as well as more fundamental calls for reform.”

Vitality in Dublin

Vitality Expo, Ireland’s largest natural health and wellbeing show, takes place in the RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin on September 28 & 29 with more than 130 exhibitors. Building on a highly successful event in 2018, Vitality brings together the best in nutrition, lifestyle, fitness and healthy living, brought to you by Health Stores Ireland.

You’ve got the power

The team behind the phenomenally successful Vegfest shows brings Plant Powered Expo to the UK early next year.

A brand new show celebrating the best of plant-based living is coming to London Olympia on February 1-2, 2020. Producers, suppliers and retailers alike will want to grasp the opportunity.

The show will focus on growing brands and established businesses, prioritising healthy living and the feelgood factor from following a plant-based way of life, with 235 stalls, 12 feature areas, 100 expert speakers and an expected footfall of 15,000 attendees.

With around 6.5m British adults currently trying a meat-free diet and the number of vegans in the UK set to skyrocket by 327% by next year (source:, the new show presents an ideal opportunity to build business in the plant-based sector.

Read the full story here...

Booked your place at HFI celebration?

The Health Food Institute celebrates its 40th anniversary on June 27 with a special lecture, awards and lunch at the Museum of Brands, London.Dr Michael Dixon, a leading GP advocating healthy living and integrated care, and the Medicinal Chef Dale Pinnock are the speakers while the Institute’s top students and industry achievers will receive their awards. The Better Retailing Magazine award for best independent retailer, based on our Secret Shopper series, will also be presented.

Last minute places from Alison Collingwood on 0115 9767280, [email protected]

Irish Retailer Awards 2019

Health Stores Ireland Retail Awards In Association with Better Retailing Magazine are open to independent health food/wholefood stores in Ireland. Entries are invited for each of the following categories:

  • Innovation & Business Development
  • Community Engagement
  • Training & Education
  • Environmental Initiatives
  • Digital Marketing

Complete this simple online form, outlining your achievements under each heading, to enter. Closing date for entries is 30th June 2019.

An independent panel will assess the entries and judging will take place during the summer with awards being presented at Vitality Expo 2019.

Special offer for Better Retailing Magazine readers

Regular Better Retailing Magazine columnist Catherine Erdly is offering readers 10% off her one2one support services.

"As retail businesses grow, they get more complicated,” she says. "This can leave founders feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to move forward. I help them get more organised, feel more confident and make more money so that they can take their business forward profitably.”

The special offer runs throughout June, July and August, whether it's a review of your business, an in-depth strategy day, or even a six-month mentorship to revamp how you manage your cash and stock. Find out more and book a discovery call at

In the summer issue of Better Retailing Magazine, due out mid-June, Catherine looks at how being an eco-champion can increase your gross margin. And there’s more about her offer plus features to help you with sales and marketing, technology and research data on your market and its customers.

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: [email protected].

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, [email protected]).

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.

Ireland celebrates VAT victory

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

The move, which was to have come into force today (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 legislate an acceptable alternative.

Read the full story here...

It’s BOOM time! Enter the Best of Organic Market awards 2019

Entries for the UK’s only organic food and drink awards are now open. Run by Soil Association Certification, the Best of Organic Market (BOOM) awards are a chance to celebrate the very best of organic food and drink.

Now in their third year, the awards are open to all organic producers and businesses across a wide range of categories covering product, outlet, sustainability initiatives and people. Food and drink categories, judged blind by an expert panel purely on taste and quality, include:

  • Categories for fresh produce, dairy, bakery, meat, fish and poultry
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Baby and children’s products
  • Box scheme, independent retailer and supermarket
  • New categories for 2019 include organic specialist diet and best organic snack
  • A further award will celebrate the organic businesses leading the way in developing new and environmentally sustainable packaging solutions.

Click here to enter.

Bold new look for Suma

Suma is introducing a new look for the business as a whole, including its fleet of 22 trucks, and range of over 1,000 own-brand products.

Sheree Hatton, one of Suma's worker members who has overseen the development of the new brand, said: "The world is changing. There is a growing interest in meat-free diets and fairer business practices, things that have been at our heart for over forty years. Suma's never been more of the moment, and our new look will allow us to speak in a more urgent voice on the things that matter."

The business is the largest co-op of its kind in Europe. Based in West Yorkshire with a London depot, it has been at the forefront of the wholefood market for decades, and continues to offer industry 'firsts', from recycled toilet roll to vegan convenience foods.

Nathalie Spencer, who also led the rebrand, added: "The way we look is changing. But what we stand for is staying the same. We want our new look to be as bold as our people and as inspiring as our customers. It will help our products stand out and direct sales to our customers.

"We're not doing it all in one go. Starting with our trucks and tomatoes, over the next two years we'll be changing all of Suma's style to create a more consistent and unified brand."

Veganuary going on tour of health food stores in January 2019

This January, Veganuary is working alongside the NAHS (National Association of Health Stores). Veganuary want to make the independent health retailer a one stop shop for new vegans – an environment where great vegan food meets inspiring and influential expert information. They'll be visiting local, independent health food stores across the UK, and taking some of their favourite foodie brands along for the ride.

The "Veganuary Road Trip" will be visiting independent health food shops throughout January, with the aim of encouraging Veganuary 2019 participants to visit their local health food store. As well as an array of delicious free samples, they'll also be supplying each of the chosen stores with an essential kit to help entry-level vegans navigate around their stores. This will include vegan shopping swaps and essential tips for going vegan, with advice on topics including nutrition, meal plans and supplements. The chosen health stores will then help guide each customer through a range of their products to set them up for Veganuary success.

The health stores taking part in the tour will stock all five of Veganuary's brand partners: Pulsin, Tideford, Follow Your Heart, Booja Booja and One Planet Pizza, with sampling support.

"The NAHS has long championed the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and we are delighted to help promote and support Veganuary. Our member store owners and staff (many of whom are already vegan veterans) look forward to helping participants transition to a new, healthier lifestyle in 2019,” says NAHS Chairman Gary Trickett.

EFSA launches interactive tool

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched an interactive tool that allows nutritionists and other health professionals to make quick and easy calculations using EFSA's dietary reference values.

The DRV Finder searches by population group or nutrient, allowing users to extract and combine the precise information they need from the 32 opinions on DRVs that EFSA has published in recent years.

The opinions contain DRVs for water, fats, carbohydrates and dietary fibre, protein, energy, as well as 14 vitamins and 13 minerals.

Agnès de Sesmaisons Lecarré, from EFSA's Nutrition Unit, said: "Health professionals and authorities use DRVs to help consumers make healthy food choices. We hope they will find our DRV Finder an invaluable tool in carrying out this essential work."

Planet Organic on the expansion trail

When Scottish private equity firm Inverleith took a controlling stake in London’s seven-store health food chain Planet Organic it said it aimed to double the number of stores over the next five years.

In an “interesting time of change for the high street”, Inverleith Chairman Ben Thomson identified consumer demand for more community-based shopping and a holistic, healthy lifestyle.

We spoke to Planet Organic’s Buying Director Al Overton who confirms: “We are looking to open two or three stores a year for the next five years.

“Inverleith think that, with changing high streets and increased interest in health and wellness, there is opportunity for an experience- and service-led retailer operating within the wellness space.”

But with uncertain future trading proving “a challenge” and a dearth of organic land under cultivation in the UK, the business may become ever more reliant on imports.

“Certainly interest in health will grow and grow, and I hope organic grows with it,” he adds. Although supermarkets tend to see organic as premium, Overton does not believe organic food in season should command a premium price, especially as the market grows.

Planet Organic’s adherence to minimum product standards of no artificial or GM ingredients, “embedded in all departments”, requires specialist knowledge to analyse the ingredients lists. “Health and beauty are growing strongly within the business, both in terms of clean labels but also customers looking for less packaged or plastic-free options,” he says.

Community shopping is driven by “the opposite of technology” – the store teams work closely with community groups, local clubs and schools and consider themselves part of the community in which they operate.

“If all you are is a shop selling the same stuff that you can easily get elsewhere then your days are numbered,” observes Overton. “But people will always go to a store for an experience, or for the service, or just to hang out and be part [of a community].

“Our focus is on uniqueness of the product range, speed of innovation, service and in-store experience.”

Health Food Institute is 40...

The Health Food Institute’s Annual Event for 2019 is moving from its usual February date to Thursday June 27 to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The big bash takes place at the Museum of Brands in London.

...And so is the bran tub

The Bran Tub at Petersfield, founded by Peter and Anna Roberts in 1978, has been celebrating its fortieth as an independent, family-owned health store. It’s now owned by adventurer Gillian Silverthorn who recently trekked to Everest base camp to raise money for Save The Rhino and Animals Asia.

Natural health hat-trick

Julie Goodwin’s Natural Health store at Welwyn Garden City won no less than three awards at the WGC Business Improvement District (BID) Awards – Best Independent Retailer, Friendliest Staff and Most Involved in the Community.

Pictured L-R are Paul Albertson, Julie, Katrin Rejahl and Teresa Colborne.

Boost for HFI Protocol following GP video

Viridian Nutrition has continued its mission to partner the UK’s GPs with their local health food stores. And in response, health food stores are signing up to the Health Food Institute’s retailer protocol to add weight to their professional status.

A video made by the College of Medicine and ITN Productions, released in November, gives a siren call to GPs that they should point patients to independent health food stores in the interests of healthy nutrition.

Almost 300 stores have signed the HFI Protocol, used when advising customers on the remedies available in-store. Around 50 have signed since the video was released with more coming into the HFI office daily, says HFI council member Cheryl Thallon, Viridian’s MD.

Read the full story here...

NAHS needs you

The NAHS is looking for health store volunteers to join the committee which meets four times a year in Birmingham. Anyone interested should contact NAHS Administrator Avril McCracken on 01875 341408, e-mail [email protected].

THS acquisition means ‘more choice for retailers’

Two of the UK’s national wholesalers now have the same boss. John Weaver of Tree of Life has been named CEO of The Health Store following the acquisition by Health Made Easy and now runs both companies.

But he assured Better Retailing Magazine that both wholesalers will be operated independently. Between them, THS and ToL have annual sales of around £90m.

“We do not intend to change any of our brands, only improve them,” he said. “The Health Store has maintained its position as one of the leading suppliers in its category, and we do not want to change this.

“Instead, we want to make sure we do our best to facilitate growth, through providing customers with more choice while supporting product innovation to meet changing consumer habits in the UK.”

Retailers will find the ranges extended rather than consolidated, such as exclusive brands, chilled and frozen, as well as a greater range from which to optimise margins.

“The sites and wholesale brands will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future, as will their management teams,” he added.

Weaver becomes CEO of THS as a main Health Made Easy shareholder. Tim Ryan remains as MD of THS with Paul Rideout Sales Director and Julian Wright Buying Director.

THS joins Higher Nature and Peppersmith alongside ToL in the Health Made Easy group.

Ireland reels under new health tax

Ireland’s Revenue Commissioners introduce a new 23% VAT rate for all food supplements from March 1.

This means that vitamins, minerals, probiotics and fish oils will be subject to the 23% rate and will undermine the health of Irish people who rely on food supplements to maintain their health.

Health Stores Ireland and the Irish Health Trade Association have organised a petition ( opposing the tax on health which has already attracted thousands of signatures.

A horrified Irish health food industry believes the cynical new tax will badly affect the following groups:

  • People who rely on food supplements, such as iron, to address diet deficiencies.
  • People who take food supplements to reduce the risk factors of diseases, such as heart disease.
  • People who take food supplements to enable their body to function at a normal level and maintain a good standard of health.

“To put such a huge tax on products that have a positive impact on people’s health makes no sense, and goes against the Government’s own Healthy Ireland initiative,” says Health Stores Ireland.

The decision will also have a huge impact on sales for health stores and pharmacies across the country.

“For the past 40 years, there has been a 0% VAT rate on food supplements. An immediate 23% increase is unprecedented and could put dozens of health stores out of business and cause hundreds of jobs to be lost,” adds Health Stores Ireland.

It's BOOM time!

The Soil Association’s prestigious Best of Organic Market (BOOM) awards return in 2019.

Entries for the UK’s only organic food and drink awards will open on January 7 – and independent retailers are invited to pitch in.

Run by the Soil Association, the BOOM awards are a chance to celebrate the very best of organic food, drink, hospitality and innovation, as well as the pioneers shaping a more sustainable food system and providing food as it should be.

Last seen in 2017, the awards celebrate what’s currently happening in the market, as well as the innovators shaping the future of food and farming, sponsored by Abel & Cole.

Read the full story here...

Vitality Expo – bigger and better for 2019

The inaugural Vitality Expo in Dublin in September was a huge hit – that’s the industry view following rave reviews from Ireland’s independent health stores.

Health Stores Ireland, which endorses and supports the show, expects the show to be even bigger in 2019 and will ramp up its awards programme for retailers which is sponsored by Better Retailing Magazine.

Vitality is also an annual gathering for the wider sector, a networking opportunity for all stakeholders and a showcase for the health food retail sector with a valuable national media partnership.

See our Spring 2019 issue for show dates and registration, as well as entry details for the retailer awards.

THS takeover worries independents

Two of the three national health food wholesalers are now owned by the same company – Health Made Easy. The acquisition of The Health Store to sit alongside Tree of Life was confirmed on October 22 following shareholder approval. The third national wholesaler is the co-operative Suma.

The new owners and THS itself have tried to reassure customers that the two wholesalers will operate independently but retailers will be concerned that a future consolidation could harm their discounts.

THS Sales & Marketing Director Paul Rideout, replying to one concerned retailer on social media, said: “We are not merging with Tree of Life. Just like Higher Nature supplements and Peppersmiths we are simply now all part of the same group, the Health Made Easy Group Ltd. All the businesses will operate independently of each other.”

Read the full story here...

Health food innovation

Meet the innovators shaping the future of food, health and nutrition at Food Matters Live (ExCeL, London, November 20–22) where more than 800 exhibitors are expected.

Business leaders, government ministers, scientists, commentators and experts in health, nutrition and diet will be among 50 influential speakers at the free-to-attend event. In addition, seminars range from retail trends in health and wellbeing to the future of free-from and sustainable food.

Register at

Irish retailers win a reprieve on VAT plan

Irish retailers have breathed a sigh of relief that plans to slap VAT on supplements have been shelved, but they have been warned that the idea is not dead.

Health Stores Ireland administrator Alan McGrath believes a rapid intervention by the Irish health food industry prevented the proposal being included in the publication of the finance bill on 18th October.

“There is no doubt that the intervention and political campaigning from those who engaged has effected a possible change in plans at the Department of Finance,” he said.

Doing nothing would open the door to the possibility of 23% VAT on food supplements, he said.

“It should be noted that a change in the VAT policy on food supplements can now be proposed in a separate Bill outside the Finance Bill,” he added. “It’s very much in our interests that this Bill should reflect the needs of the 50% of the population that use food supplements regularly.”

Heath Stores Ireland is proposing a business-based campaign around the lack of clarity and unfairness of the status quo which leaves Irish manufacturers, distributors and retailers at a disadvantage from imports and online sales.

A separate consumer-based campaign is likely, promoting the long-term need of individuals to use food supplements and the benefits this brings to the health care system in line with stated government policy.

Ireland's health stores are 'in great shape'

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

Ireland's independent health food stores are in great shape - that's the conclusion following the first Health Stores Ireland/Better Retailing Magazine retailer awards presented in five categories during Vitality Expo in Dublin (8-9th September 2018).

The top five health stores were named as The Hopsack, Dublin (Innovation and Business Development); The Natural Health Store, Wexford (Community Engagement); Evergreen, Galway (Training & Education); Organico, Bantry (Environmental Initiatives); and Only Natural, Wexford (Digital Marketing).

Read the full story here...

Positive news for independents

Nearly three quarters (72%) of GB consumers want the Government to do more to back the growth of smaller independent retailers.

YouGov research for marketing automation suite Pure360 found that nearly half (42%) would consider shopping with an independent retailer because they prefer to support smaller operations over a larger retailer.

In addition, one in five shoppers said they like to compare price and product offerings between larger retail brands and independents, before going on to make the final purchase from the smaller retailer.

The surge in support for the lesser known retailers is due in part to the customer service they offer, with nearly half (43%) of respondents claiming they would consider shopping with an independent over a larger retailer because they are treated like a valued customer rather than just a number.

In a similar vein, 39% of consumers favour independents because of the personalised experience they receive, while the same proportion of respondents like them because they offer different products to larger retailers.

Almost 40% of respondents had been introduced to these retailers by friends and family, followed by 20% discovering them through social media advertising.

Despite this, just 22% of GB consumers currently opt to go to an independent retailer in the first instance to seek out an item, indicating that there is still work to be done if they are going to win over the high street giants. Meanwhile, 43% prefer retailers who sell both online and offline.

Health stores 'more important than pubs'

The NAHS has petitioned the UK Government to grant independent health stores the same dispensation of £1000 on business rates that is currently awarded to public houses in recognition of their value to local communities.

“We believe that independent health stores are a far more valuable asset to local communities and indeed to the nation as a whole and should also be granted a dispensation,” says the NAHS.

The petition titled 'Grant healthstores a business rates dispensation' can be found at

Julie is a natural

Julie Goodwin’s Natural Health won the Health and Wellbeing Category Award in the Love Hertford Awards with a list of positive comments as long as your arm. “We are absolutely thrilled,” says Julie. “It was 100% voted by our lovely customers.” She is pictured (second from right) with some of her team.

Hat trick for Irish stores

Three Irish health stores have been named in the Top 100 Retail Excellence Awards which promote best practice and encourage high standards in the Irish retail industry. They are Back to Nature, Cavan; Only Natural at Wexford and Here’s Health, Douglas SC, Cork. Thirty stores will be selected to compete for the awards final.

JB&C's beauty from within

London’s natural health pharmacy John Bell & Croyden has opened ‘InResidence Nutrition’ – a comprehensive nutrition clinic offering advice and guidance to achieve beauty from within. The launch follows the success of the store’s acclaimed beauty treatment room, InResidence Beauty, which opened earlier this year to provide a range of bespoke, luxury facials. On hand are nutritionists Eduardo Passeti, specialising in sports nutrition, and Sara Bertoli, specialising in adult and paediatric nutrition and wellbeing.

Image courtesy of Retail Experience Design.

Virtual Suzan pops up in Kerry

Health store owner Suzan Turan has teamed up with ‘Digital Pop-Ups’ to create a postcard that comes to life on mobile devices using Augmented Reality. Customers pick up a postcard at The Aquarian in Co. Kerry, download the app and play a game in a virtual Cahersiveen where the shop is based. Suzan’s avatar helps them capture lemons and enter a prize draw by leaving their contact mail (GDPR compliant) on the store’s website.

Zeal for vegan health

Gareth and Sarah Zeal have opened a bistro-style vegan café and health food shop with therapy rooms at Little Green, Newcastle. Fifteen new jobs have been created by the start-up, with more to be added as the couple are already seeking an additional chef. Nutritional therapist Gareth will offer consultations while the venue will host live music events, street food nights and guest chefs.

Gareth Zeal is pictured above (left) with lawyer Jabad Jaigirdar

Health Made Easy completes acquisition of The Health Store

Following its offer to shareholders to support the move, Health Made Easy Ltd has confirmed its acquisition of The Health Store (Health Stores (Wholesale) Ltd) following sufficient acceptances to complete the deal.

Mike Cole, Chairman of Health Made Easy commented: "We're pleased that our shareholders have backed the acquisition of The Health Store. We will continue to operate both businesses as separate entities, which will provide benefits of scale across all channels and enable us to improve our offer to our customers, suppliers and consumers alike."

Tim Ryan, Managing Director of The Health Store added: "Our business has been at the forefront of sourcing natural and organic products for independent retailers for more than 80 years. Within this time, the landscape of the sector in which we operate has changed considerably. We're confident that the deal made with Health Made Easy will allow us to drive forward changes and benefits that will ensure we can keep delivering for the needs of our customers."

The acquisition will consolidate the group's buying power, which includes a number of subsidiaries including Higher Nature, specialists in vitamins and mineral supplements products, and Tree of Life, the largest wholesale distributor of ambient organic and natural foods in Britain. Staffordshire-based Tree of Life is a leading player in health products distribution in the UK and, together with The Health Store, provides the group with a significant position in the sector.

What's your thoughts on this news? Email our editor Alistair Forrest at [email protected].

2018 Organic Trade Conference

The Soil Association holds its 2018 Organic Trade Conference on October 17 at Amnesty International UK in London. We hear that it may be fully subscribed but latecomers are welcome to enquire.

This year's event will focus on the strong growth in the organic market and the factors driving this success, while also considering the opportunities arising across the various channels to market - catering, independent retail, multiple retail and export.

Attendees will be able to participate in the main plenary speaker session, featuring a market update from Kantar Worldpanel, as well as presentations from Waitrose and Hodmedod's, and then choose from tailored discussion panels on International Trade and Selling Organic into Foodservice.

As well as experts from The Soil Association, the speakers will include:

  • Elen Ormson - Duchy Brand Manager, Waitrose
  • Nick Saltmarsh - MD and Founder of Hodemedod's
  • Emma Vass - CEO, Wessanen
  • Patrick O Flaherty - MD and Founder of Pip Organic
  • Ian Platt - Head of Purchasing Supply, Baxterstorey

Sponsored by Fyffes and Diversified Communications. Apply here.

It's not too late to get involved in Organic September

Organic September, the month-long celebration of all things organic that helps people to find, try and buy all things organic is once more upon us. According to Soil Association Certification’s trade consultant, Finn Cottle, this annual focus on organic products is a golden opportunity for independent retailers to share in the action and make the most of the growing interest in ethical consumption.

"Organic September is a golden opportunity for independent retailers to take advantage of the growing passion for organic food and tell the stories of the products they sell. Interest in organic peaks in September each year, with many more people actively looking at ways that they can make changes to their shopping and diets to include more organic products.

While the major supermarkets will have discounts and other offers throughout the entire month, for many smaller independent retailers Organic September Saturday, this year on 15th September, is the highlight of the calendar. This is the chance for independents to showcase what they have to offer by hosting events and offers in store on the day, concentrating their focus on one great event rather than spreading themselves thinly over the entire month.

Read the full story here...

Winners named in Irish retailer awards

The best of independent health store retailing is celebrated in the Health Stores Ireland/Better Retailing Magazine awards ceremony on September 8.

The awards will be presented following the first day of Vitality Expo with a ceremony at Paddy Cullen’s, adjacent to the RDS Dublin, at the close of the opening day.

There are 21 awards including the five category winners, shortlisted retailers, special environmental recognitions plus categorised product awards.

Read the full story here...

GO! Organic Festival taking place in London this September

This September will see London's Battersea Park transformed into a one-of-a-kind, vibrant weekend celebration of the very best in organic, sustainable and healthy living.

Taking place from 8 to 9 September, GO! Organic is set to feature a raft of big-name and up and coming bands, celebrities, talks, demos in the Organic Kitchen, circus entertainment and much more.

The Natural Talks Theatre will feature captivating and informative talks from a range of sustainable and organic thought-leaders, discussing topics ranging from organic farming to horticulture, and plastic pollution to wildlife – all showing that organic conversations really are relevant to everyone.

There will be over a dozen live cooking demonstrations in the Organic Kitchen – Theo Randall, a former head chef at the legendary River Café; ‘plant-forward’ chef Jay Morjaria; cook and author Melissa Hemsley, Gelf Alderson (executive chef at River Cottage); eco restaurateur Arthur Potts-Dawson; leading food writer and chef Rosie Birkett and GBBO contestant Chetna Makan are just some of the impressive line-up.

GO! Organic has also teamed up with Stroud Brewery to present the GO! Organic Beer Festival, featuring over 40 of the best organic beers from UK organic breweries.

Early bird tickets can be purchased via the website Plus, readers of Better Retailing Magazine are entitled to an exclusive 20% discount on tickets to GO! Organic Festival. Simply quote BETTER20 when booking to claim.

For full details, visit

Four weeks left for high streets to enter Great British High Street Awards

Pictured: (l-r) Suzan Kereere, Simon Reeve and Jake Berry MP

High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP has urged local businesses, councils, community groups and Business Improvement Districts to enter their high streets and shopping parades into the Great British High Street Awards, sponsored by Visa, before the 22nd August deadline.

With over 175 high streets having already registered their interest in entering the awards since nominations opened in June, the competition is heating up with communities across the country leading the high street fightback and celebrating the achievements of local individuals and businesses on their high streets.

Additionally, more than 60 MPs have also pledged their support for the Great British High Street Awards 2018, urging their local communities to enter.

Read the full story here...

The Health Store acquisition - what do YOU think?

Independent health store owners who hold shares in The Health Store are being asked if they want to sell to the group which also owns Tree of Life.

And today Better Retailing Magazine is asking those independents what they think of the proposal.

The Health Store, which formed as a co-operative in 1932, demutualised in 2015 and created nearly 400 shareholders as a result – most of them independent health stores.

The THS board has proposed a buyout offer to its shareholders from Health Made Easy, a group of businesses that invest in health and wellbeing products and also own Higher Nature.

The Health Store says the move would enhance service levels and provide more choice for their customers through access to additional complementary product lines across ambient, chilled and frozen ranges.

Shareholders have just a few weeks to decide whether to accept Health Made Easy's offer for their shares, with the acquisition completing by this autumn.

Health Made Easy says THS, TOL and Higher Nature would continue to operate autonomously at their separate sites.

What do you think? Email our editor Alistair Forrest at [email protected].

Mike sees the light

Broadcasting vicar Rev. Richard Coles sang the praises of a Bristol retailer at the British Independent Retailers Association’s glittering awards dinner.

Mike Abrahams heard the call from above and duly collected the independent retailer of the year silver award for his store, Wild Oats.

The National Association of Health Stores attended the bira conference along with entrepreneurial speakers and UK independent retailers.

Mike is pictured (centre) receiving his award from Rev. Coles and Nigel Wright of sponsor Stax Trade Centres.

Families confused over allergies

A study has revealed that 46% of families in the UK are confused about what a child with food allergies can consume, and two in every five families (36%) wouldn’t know how to respond should the child have an allergic reaction.

The report was compiled by the GP-on-demand app GPDQ and parenting website, polling over 1,000 UK-based families on their behaviour, feelings and understanding on the impact of food allergies on children and their parents.

According to the study, three in 10 (34%) families claim they have a child with a food allergy, and the biggest challenge they face is educating other people about the severity of their child’s allergy to keep them safe. Over a quarter of all parents of children affected by food allergies say they suffer stress and anxiety caused by their fear of their child having a reaction or attack.

Twenty-two per cent of parents of children with food allergies say it’s ruining their child’s life as it’s stopping them leading a ‘normal life’.

Martha is new Irish chieftain

Health Stores Ireland has elected a new Chairperson. She is Martha Brennan (pictured) of Harvest Fare in Blessington, Co. Wicklow.

Martha has been a Board member of the Irish Association of Health Stores for several years and was the driving force behind the delivery of the new group branding last year.

Outgoing Chairperson Mary Wedel will continue as a Board member and IAHS director.

Growing business

Attendance figures from Natural & Organic Products Europe trade show reveal that the sector is in great health. More than 10,000 attended from 91 countries while 700 exhibitors showcased VMS, superfoods, personal care and beauty, eco home/living and food and drink.

Gluten-free grants

Grants ranging from £50,000 to £250,000 are available from Coeliac UK and innovation agency Innovate UK for healthcare diagnostics, digital self-care tools and better gluten-free food production.

Ireland's perfect Vitality mix

Brought to you by Health Stores Ireland and taking place at Dublin’s RDS on September 8 and 9, Vitality Expo 2018 is dedicated to all things health, wellness, lifestyle, fitness and nutrition from a wide selection of Ireland’s best-known speakers and brands within the natural health sector.

As Ireland’s only consumer and trade natural health exhibition, it’s the ideal opportunity for health food retailers to meet eager customers as well as the suppliers whose products consumers crave.

It’s also an opportunity for retailers to join in the fun and networking with their peers and suppliers at the Health Stores Ireland/Better Retailing Magazine Awards Party at an adjacent venue at the exhibition close on the first day.

Vitality Expo is the place to learn about exciting new products and remedies and discover the latest natural health trends, and benefit from expert advice from well-known figures within the natural health industry in Ireland and beyond. All in a festival atmosphere.

Features at the show include the Vitality Stage where inspirational Irish and international speakers including Patrick Holford and Dr Marilyn Glenville will undertake engaging and interactive talks, all hosted by nutritionist and radio presenter Jemma Kehoe.

There’s also the Food and Cookery Stage with the best of wholefood cookery with Marie Power, Henrietta Norton, Oliver McCabe and Susan Jane White, to name a few.

Get into the zone at the Outdoor Entertainment Area with live music along with yoga and pilates sessions and a kid’s area where they can practice some moves! Or visit The Village where you can sample tasty delights from over 100 artisan and local health food producers in the Irish marketplace.

Pictured at the launch of Vitality Expo 2018 are (L-R) Chef Oliver McCabe; Martha Brennan, Health Stores Ireland Chair; Alan McGrath, Health Stores Ireland; Vitality Expo Ambassador Alison Canavan; Gerald Colfer, Health Stores Ireland President; and holistic gardener Fiann O’Nuallain. Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan

GDPR is ‘evolution not revolution’

A huge 68% of UK consumers would be willing to increase online spending with retailers that are transparent about the use of personal and financial information.

Despite that, 50% of UK retailers do not provide the desired assurances to consumers around the protection of their data.

These are the findings of Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute reported on page 32 of this issue, which also concludes that 81% of organisations were likely to have failed to reach GDPR compliance by the May 25 deadline.

The commissioner responsible for data enforcement under the new regulation is frustrated by the amount of scaremongering about the impact on businesses.

UK information commissioner Elizabeth Denham says: “The GDPR is a step change for data protection. It’s still an evolution, not a revolution”.

Her office ( is responsible for GDPR in the UK and has a suite of sanctions for businesses struggling to comply with data protection. Long before the feared fines would be compliance advice, warnings and rectification orders.

Organic farming may not meet demand

The future growth of the global $320bn organic food market could be at risk if the area of organic land does not grow sufficiently to meet rising demand, according to Informa’s Agribusiness Intelligence.

Statistics from independent sources confirm the global organic farmland area has grown by 8.4% per year since 2001 – but organic food consumption is exceeding this rate, increasing by 10.2% every year over the same period.

By 2016, a total of 57.8m hectares had been approved for organic production, amounting to 1.2% of all the world’s farmland. Since then, some 13.4m hectares of new organic farmland has been created, as demand for organic food and drink products grows. Some 2.7m farmers worldwide were identified as ‘organic farmers’ in 2016 (up 13% year-on-year). There are now 15 countries around the world where more than 10% of the total farmland area is registered organic.

The second biggest market in the world for organic products is the EU with sales in 2016 estimated at €30.7bn. From 2021 onwards, the EU will insist that its own domestic rules should directly apply to imported organic goods, and that current ‘equivalency’ agreements, which the European Commission says allows upwards of 60 different standards, will no longer be valid.

Special awards unveiled for Ireland's Vitality show

A line-up of special awards for retailers and suppliers has been announced in the run-up to Vitality Expo 2018 at the RDS Dublin in September. Health Stores Ireland and Better Retailing Magazine have launched five retailer awards and an industry Best Product award.

Awards for independent retailers who trade as health food or wholefood stores will be presented under five categories. An independent panel will assess the entries and judging will take place during the summer. The winners will be presented with their awards at an evening event which will take place during Vitality Expo 2018.

Vitality Expo 2018 is set to become an annual showcase for the health food sector and will have a strong consumer focus. Event partner INM will offer a high-level national media platform for the industry.

The industry awards evening will be hosted by a celebrity MC at a special venue close to the exhibition hall, providing an integral industry element to Vitality Expo. All trade and exhibitor attendees will be invited to attend, providing an opportunity to network and meet up with old friends in a casual setting. The awards will also provide a platform for various strands of the industry to highlight their unique standing within their sector.

The Health Stores Ireland Best Product Award In Association with Better Retailing Magazine will be shortlisted from products submitted by retailers under Rude Health's "Tried and Tested" series.

In addition, the Pat Curran Award for Excellence in Customer Service will be run in association with our sister magazine, Rude Health, whose readers will vote for their favourite health store staff based on the level of customer service they've received.

Bursary time for students

Bio-Kult is again giving one student the chance to win £1000 to help them achieve their nutritional career goals. And this year the winner’s college will receive a £500 grant too.

Students currently studying in the field of Nutrition should go to to complete the online application form and tell Bio-Kult:

  • How £1000 would help you to make your mark on the world of Nutrition (500 words max)
  • Upload your favourite image that inspires healthier living
  • How you’d be a Bio-Kult Brand Ambassador if you won (100 words max)
  • Why your college is amazing (30 words max).

Julie’s big bash

Julie Goodwin’s Natural Health stores celebrated 20 years in style with a Natural Health Festival at Hertford Theatre attended by 800 local people.

Julie is pictured with Hertford Mayor Sue Dunkley before cutting the birthday cake. Meanwhile medicinal chef Dale Pinnock and other industry personalities entertained and informed the crowds.

“I am so proud of my team and how well they did,” said Julie. “All the talks were full and we had to turn people away. We have been inundated with praise from many visitors and stall holders.”

Oliver's becomes Food for Thought

Sara Novakovic has sold Oliver’s Wholefoods in Kew to Alan Martin’s Food For Thought to take the latter’s number of stores to three.

Sara, a dynamic and influential retailer, is planning to study for an MSc in Food Policy under Prof Tim Lang at City University.

The founder of Oliver’s approached Food For Thought’s owners last year as the three stores have a mutual ethos and share many customers in South London and Guildford.

Del Eagle, Irish treasure

Health Stores Ireland lost an industry icon with the passing of Del Eagle after a short illness.

Del ran the Irish Association of Health Stores for 25 years until her well-earned retirement in 2015. She brought an infectious blend of good humour, compassion and toughness to the group now known as Health Stores Ireland.

In retirement she visited Ireland’s health food stores sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for Bach Remedies. She is sadly missed.

Loyal staff to get their Wild Oats

Mike Abrahams is planning to put his Bristol store Wild Oats into the ownership of his loyal staff.

The sprightly 74-year-old was featured recently in the British Independent Retailers Association magazine and tells Better Retailing Magazine: “I reckon another three months to crystallise [the project]. It's a massive task for a small business.”

Manager Pam Buckle has been at Wild Oats for 30 years and other staff have been there almost as long, some even with their children working there.

“I believe I have a social responsibility to my staff, to the customers and to our suppliers,” adds Mike. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Revital set for fresh growth

Revital, the London-based chain of independent health stores, is set for expansion following investment by private equity firm BGF.

Founded in 1991 by Raj Vora, the family business is now under the stewardship of his son, Chief Executive Rahil Vora, and operates 18 stores in the UK.

The extra cash will be used for Revital’s online channel, product development, new stores and extra staff.

Jeremy Seigal has joined the board as non-executive Chairman after five years as CEO of White Stuff.


Rahil Vora says: “As a family business, we wanted to remain in control as we scale the company. BGF’s approach provides us with a minority investment partner who can stay with the business as we expand.”

Sales assistants Zora, Chloe and Jennie from Revital in Worcester are pictured after taking part in a Bio-Kult training session.

List your own vegan event

The organisers of the UK's vegan festivals VegfestUK have developed a calendar for UK vegan events on their website to enable easier access to events across the country. Organisers of smaller, local vegan events can now add to the list – details at

Make a lunch date for shop talk

The National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) and the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) are hosting a Meet the Experts lunch event at Natural & Organic Products Europe.

Shop Talk will take place at 1.00pm on Sunday April 22, the show’s opening day, when independent health store retailers will have the opportunity to network together informally and talk over the latest business advice with three leading bira retail experts.

More information in our N&OPE preview

Vitality is Ireland’s focus in September

The Irish Association of Health Stores, in its new identity Health Stores Ireland, is gearing up for its major health show in September.

Vitality Expo 2018 will be held at the RDS Dublin on September 8 and 9 in collaboration with the Independent News & Media Group (INM).

“It provides the perfect platform to highlight the independent health food trade and our collaboration with many terrific Irish artisans,” says IAHS Chair Mary Wedel. “The inclusion of an artisan village and an outdoor entertainment area at the expo will reflect the many elements of our trade.”

Ireland’s only consumer and trade-focused natural health exhibition will showcase new products from natural health suppliers, headline the latest natural health trends, and offer tips and expert advice from well-known figures in Ireland and beyond.

Bigger Food Matters

Food Matters Live 2018 at ExCeL London in November will have a larger area dedicated to innovative ingredients, as well as a strong focus on 'better for you' food and drink plus key growth categories, including healthy snacking, free-from, plant-based and much more.

Better Retailing Magazine Secret Shopper Award results announced

The Better Retailing Magazine Awards are run in conjunction with the Health Food Institute to reward excellence in health food retailing. Every year, our Secret Shoppers visit around a dozen stores and mark them in five sections – first impressions, store layout, personal attention, check out and overall impression.

Our winning store is Chester Health Store. Our Secret Shopper said: "It's a small but well presented store and I'm impressed by the friendliness and knowledge of the store's owner."

This year's runners up are Almonds & Raisins in Newcastle and Hansa in Guernsey.

Look out for the next issue of Better Retailing Magazine where we talk to the winners.

Going cashless?

Two years ago, the UK passed the tipping point of more electronic than cash payments. Sometime in 2018, more than 20% of online transactions are likely to be made through mobile devices, according to PwC. But a report from market research company Mintel warns that only a third of consumers would be comfortable with a cashless society.

Rise of the independent

An increase in new high street independents across the UK has yet to affect the overall number of health stores but the signs are encouraging.

Data from the Local Data Company (LDC) and the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) shows that significantly more traditional independent shops were opened in the first half of 2017 compared with 2016.

A net increase of 562 independent shops on the high street is a significant improvement (+181%) on the first half of 2016 when there was virtually no net increase.

Meanwhile national chains continued to see a decline with a net loss of -659 shops (-0.33%) in the first half of 2017, which compares to -2,001 shops (-1.02%) in the same period of 2016.

According to LDC, there are around 850 independent health food stores in the UK plus 206 in Ireland, with the number of openings and closures keeping pace with each other. The figures are significantly higher if sports nutrition stores and organic farm shops are included.

Dairy falters

Dairy sales in Western Europe are stagnating, according to research analyst Euromonitor. Sales stood at just over €96bn which is a tiny increase in compound annual growth rate of 0.27%, due to evolving consumer attitudes and concern over dairy’s ‘wellbeing credentials’.

Happy birthday, Sunshine!

Not many UK health stores have been trading for 90 years – and neither is there anyone in the trade who has been collecting old health food and herbal packaging and advertising for the last 60 or so years.

Sunshine Health in Stroud was opened by Lilian Wolfe in 1927 and, after passing through the hands of two subsequent owners, was bought by the Hill Family in 1987.

Today there are two shops – organic, vegan and gluten-free food in the Church Street store and supplements, toiletries and cosmetics in the Sunshine Natural Health & Body Care shop in the High Street.

There were just four staff in 1987 but now under the industry’s ‘godfather’ Ray Hill there are 50, including Ray’s three sons and four grandchildren running the shops, organic bakery, natural dispensary for practitioners and the production of Thompson’s Slippery Elm Food – in itself a 100-year-old product!

Ray also curates the unique museum which houses the history of health food and herbal products of the last century.

Organic marketplace

Soil Association Certification was supporting all organic businesses at Christmas with an online Organic Collective Christmas marketplace:

Following the success of Organic September, which saw the organic market grow by 7.1% in the 30 days of September, up from an average of 4.2% to the end of August 2017 (Nielsen Scantrack), the marketplace gives all Soil Association Certification licensees a platform to showcase their products, driving further traffic to retailers.

Major new Irish show announced

Health Stores Ireland, formerly the Irish Association of Health Stores, has announced a major consumer show after a year’s break from hosting a natural health exhibition. Vitality Expo 2018 will be held at the RDS Dublin on September 8 and 9 in collaboration with the Independent News & Media Group (INM).

Chair Mary Wedel says: “The relaunch of the annual consumer/trade show, with the exciting collaboration of national media organisation INM, will give us the perfect platform to highlight the independent health food trade and our collaboration with many terrific Irish artisans."

Ireland’s only consumer and trade-focused natural health exhibition will showcase new products from natural health suppliers, headline the latest natural health trends, and offer tips and expert advice from well-known figures in Ireland and beyond.

Both Better Retailing Magazine and sister title Rude Health will be playing an integral part in the Vitality Expo event with exciting news to be announced soon.

Stronger Together – NAHS joins bira

The National Association of Health Stores has borrowed the Democrats’ election slogan in its alliance with a national retailing association.

By joining the family of trade associations under the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) umbrella, the NAHS is trumpeting the ‘Stronger Together’ mantra.

A three-year plan designed to increase benefits, standards, education, profile, proliferation and communication is underway, including membership of bira with its 6,500 independent retailers.

That means a stronger voice and access to more than 30 services including a legal advice line, its own bank and money-saving benefits.

NAHS Chairman Gary Trickett (pictured) says: “Without a doubt, NAHS and bira will be stronger together.”

Rupy Aujla to speak at HFI awards

Dr. Rupy Aujla, an NHS doctor who runs The Doctor’s Kitchen website, will be the headline speaker on ‘Food is Medicine’ at the Health Food Institute’s annual awards luncheon.

The date for your diary is Thursday March 15 at Royal Over-Seas House, Park Place, off St. James’s Street, London (10.30am for 11am start, concludes 3pm).

Tickets cost £45 for retailers, HFI Fellows and Members, everyone else £50 from Alison Collingwood, email [email protected]

Jason gets there in the end

Jason Henderson ought to receive a special award come the Health Food Institute’s annual awards in the Spring. It’s taken him 11 years to complete the HFI Professional Diploma Part One.

The owner of Elixir Health Foods, Wadebridge, began what was then the HFI Certificate Course in April 2006 and doesn’t object to having the Mickey taken – “I’ve set an example to other HFI students to know they can get there in the end, too!” says the former teacher.

If Jason (pictured) takes the Part Two Diploma, we estimate that he will finish it in 2031.

Vegan trade show debuts in London

Vegfest Trade, the UK’s first vegan Trade show at Olympia, attracted around 130 exhibitors and 80 speakers showcasing the best of veganism to around 700 trade and media delegates in October.

Panel discussions included a Vegan Business Support zone for small business owners, an Independent Retailers Lounge for shop owners, a Plant-Based Chefs Corner for those from the catering sector, a Vegan Bodycare Pavilion for bodycare and beauty professionals, a Vegan Health Clinic for health professionals, and a Vegan Celebrity Zone tailored to the Media sector.

Organic surge

A whopping 70% of European consumers say they are buying ‘healthy’ food and more than half of them say they are buying organic, an increase of 35% in three years. A survey by analyst IRI of 2,600 shoppers in seven European countries, including the UK, also showed vegetarian food sales up 36% in the same three years with ‘freefrom’ not far behind.

Videos promote health stores

The National Association of Health Stores has commissioned five videos to help promote independent health stores, made by Green TV. They can be viewed on the NAHS UK You Tube channel.

NAHS has also set up a new domain which links to the Association’s website to help the public find their nearest NAHS member store. This domain is promoted in the videos.

The main video is entitled 'We are the Independent Health Stores of the UK' with further films promoting A Healthy Mind, Bag Loads of Energy, Healthy Immunity and Healthy Hair Skin and Nails.

A three-year plan has been actioned to increase benefits, standards, education and communication.

Organic happiness

Launching its EU-funded campaign, Organic. Feed Your Happy in September, fronted by radio and TV presenter Sara Cox (pictured), the Organic Trade Board has revealed research that shows why organic food makes people feel happy.

  • More than two thirds of consumers (68%) say it’s because organic food “benefits me, benefits the animals and benefits the environment”. Among females this increases to 78%.
  • 78% say food produced with high animal welfare standards makes them happy.
  • 77% say it’s food produced in a way that takes care of the environment.
  • Nearly eight out of 10 (79%) feel happy knowing the food they buy supports farmers.

These consumers want more organic food in UK shops:

  • Two thirds (64%) want retailers to give more space to support organic food and drink. Among 18- to 25-year-olds this increases to 72%.
  • More than half (56%) don’t think there are enough retail outlets selling organic food in their local area.
  • 64% say they would like more organic options to choose from.
  • 60% don’t think retailers do enough to support organic farmers and producers in the UK.

Read our report on the organic market

Free-from is flying

Kantar Worldpanel reported in July that the free-from market is up 40% to more than £800m in the past year. A year ago, the growth figure was already an impressive 26.7%. Meanwhile, The Grocer said its own research by Harris Interactive revealed that the number of Brits regularly shopping free-from has more than doubled in the past two years, from 19% to 43%.

Smiling Irish eyes

Congratulations to Horan’s Health Stores, Tralee, and Evergreen Health Foods, Galway, two members of the newly named Health Stores Ireland (formerly IAHS) who made it into the Top 100 Stores in Retail Excellence, Ireland’s annual appraisal of the best of Irish retail.

Food and fun at next year's Go Organic

Tapping into the increasing popularity for festivals, but with a campaigning spirit and a sense of purpose, the inaugural Go Organic Festival will take place at London’s iconic Battersea Park in September 2018.

The event is being staged by Diversified Communications, organiser of the annual Natural & Organic Products Europe.

The launch follows months of discussions with leading brands and associations, including the Soil Association and the Organic Trade Board, and aims to be the biggest consumer marketing platform and celebration ever staged for the increasingly important organic sector.

Carsten Holm, MD of Diversified, thinks the timing of the new event is perfect. He says: “So many people have asked us to do something like this and we believe there is a clear need for a major new event aimed at consumers and families, as well as the trade, which celebrates and promotes organic and brings consumers together with suppliers of organic products.”

The festival will include a large purpose-built indoor area with over 100 exhibitors showing health, lifestyle, beauty and food products. The large outdoor area will provide a host of activities for the whole family, including a festival stage with bands and DJs, a funfair, comedy, celebrities, an organic farm, an organic beer tent, farmer talks, cooking demonstrations by celebrated chefs, and seminars covering key aspects of natural and organic lifestyles.

Vegan market is growing fast

There are now at least half-a-million diehard vegans in the UK, according to the Vegan Society. Around 42% of them are under 34. This means vegan food sales increased by a staggering 1,500% last year.

Read our report on the vegan market

Irish exclusives

The Irish Association of Health Stores, recently rebranded as “Heath Stores Ireland”, is planning a new initiative for next year.

“Health Stores Ireland Select” will incorporate a range of brands and products which will receive group marketing and support as ethically sourced, exclusive products symbolising the core values of the independent health food trade. This carefully chosen range of products will be designed to meet the strictest criteria with regards to ethics, quality and sustainability.

Heart of the matter

National Cholesterol Month (October) aims to raise funds for HEART UK as well as awareness of the dangers of high cholesterol. The main event of the month is the 100-mile Great Cholesterol Challenge.

Taking the strain with a new probiotics database

A new educational tool for retailers classifies probiotics, documents the best-researched strains, and identifies which strains are recommended for different conditions.

The resource, developed by Optibac Probiotics, is “a non- commercial project”, says Marketing Manager Soraya Janmohamed. “The strains detailed are not limited to those in the OptiBac Probiotics range.

“We feel there are a lot of misunderstandings out there when it comes to probiotics, and are hoping to make life a bit easier for retailers to sift through the information and the various competing messages.”

See the resource at

Anyone 4 Tea acquires Oatwell®

Anyone 4 Tea is now the distributor for the successful Oatwell® brand. Already in wide distribution, the move is designed to grow the brand into new outlets and increase investment with promotional support and education.

Martin Last, Anyone 4 Tea’s Managing Director says “We are really excited about this new development and Oatwell® is an excellent addition to the current portfolio. We are eager to now develop this brand further and to look at ways that we can increase the product offering that it provides. It clearly has huge potential.”

Oatwell® contains Oat Beta-glucan which has been proven to help reduce cholesterol with regular use and is supported by an EFSA opinion for Health Claims. There are two main products in the range – Oatwell® powder for general use, and Oatwell® Crispy Hearts cereal for daily breakfast use.

Modest gains for independents

More traditional independent shops were opened than were closed in 2016 in Britain’s top 500 town centres, according to figures from the Local Data Company (LDC) and the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA). In contrast, national chains continued to see a fall.

Independent shops saw a modest increase of 159 shops (+0.15%) in 2016, equating to a 36% increase from 2015 when 117 shops were added across GB. The greatest increases were seen in service retail, such as health & beauty salons, financial services, tattoo parlours and estate agents. The East Midlands saw the greatest rise in independent shops while Greater London, with its high rents, the biggest decline.

Chain retailers have remained in decline with a net loss of 896 shops in 2016 across the top 500 town centres, compared to a decline of 498 shops in 2015.

LDC Director Matthew Hopkinson said: “Independents are becoming ever more important to our High Streets. Year by year, the net gain of small businesses is accelerating, even as the net loss of chain stores increases.”

Huge UK growth in mobile shopping

The number of people making a purchase through a mobile platform in the UK increased by 39% in 2016, comprising 86% of UK digital shoppers.

Retail m-commerce sales will total £31.42 billion in 2017. Online stores understand the importance of mobile sites, with 76% of them now providing a mobile version of their site.

The figures are supplied by e-commerce provider Actinic in its tenth annual ‘e-merchant profile’, a study carried out between November and December 2016 with data from 2,100 European companies.

More than a quarter of digital sales are now conducted via smartphone, reaching 28% in the fourth quarter of 2016.

According to the survey, more than half of all e-merchants (54%) have seen more than 10% of their overall sales taking place through mobile channels, three times the number in 2015.

Office for National Statistics figures show that e-commerce accounted for 15.5% of total UK retail spending in March 2017.

Mobile is fast becoming the most popular mode of online purchasing in the UK, and according to the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, e-customers are making purchases increasingly easily via smartphone: “We can see a year-on-year increase of 47% in the number of sales made by mobile from 2015 to 2016, driven by a preference for the channel amongst 18 to 25-year-olds.”

How to sell to 'Gen Real'

We’ve known them as Generation Z, but having grown up in a post 9/11 world of threats and tragedies, they are now ‘Gen Real’ and they are very liberal-minded. Representing almost four in every ten consumers in the world’s largest markets, Gen Real are mature beyond their years and value realism and candour above all, according to Ed Silk, head of strategy at brand design agency Bulletproof.

Writing for, he says: “They see themselves as individuals in the first instance and want to be treated as such, always keen to create and express their own take on things.

“As a result, brand narratives need to evolve to become simpler, more frank and honest. Products and services will have to morph to encompass the next level of personalisation that panders to the desire for individuality and recognition. Aesthetically, we will see this philosophy translate on pack and in retail spaces via gender-neutral design.”

Understanding Gen Real will be crucial for brands keen to drive engagement among a consumer group that is different from any other generation before it, he adds.

IAHS set to rebrand

Irish health stores are to get a new logo and rebranding this summer. Alan McGrath, Irish Association of Health Stores administrator, says: “After years of discussion and months of brainstorming and collaboration, we are pleased to have a final design agreed.

“The new logo will allow the Irish Association of Health Stores to seriously up the ante with regard to sector marketing, the promotion of independents and engagement with consumers at a national level to highlight the special offering that health food shops have to offer.”

The IAHS has been meeting with all affiliate trade partners over the last few weeks and is agreeing on sector marketing on a range of products and services.

“An agreed message to the general public about where the key differences in the independent health food trade lie within a crowded market is in the best interest of both distributers and retailers” adds Alan. “The smart distributors are engaging with the IAHS to formulate a joint approach to sector marketing, listening to the retail sector and taking cues from them to ensure that the core of the natural health food industry thrives.”

We do like Mondays

Stores with an online shop may want to take note that a lot has changed since the Boomtown Rats declared they don’t like Mondays. New research reveals that Monday is the most popular day for UK consumers to indulge in some online retail therapy.

The research from e-commerce data experts PCA Predict found that Mondays generated the biggest e-commerce web and mobile traffic from UK consumers, averaging more than 1.2m visits. That’s 16% of all web and mobile e-commerce traffic during the week in Britain.

The highest volume of traffic during Mondays is from 11am- 3pm, where on average, at least 80,000 consumers are browsing for bargains each hour, with 1pm being the most popular hour to shop on that day. It also peaks again at 8pm when more than 80,000 British consumers log on again to shop.

The research also confirms the obvious that consumers are most likely to visit bricks and mortar retailers during the weekends.

Emma’s social call

Emma Ratcliffe has joined the Social Media team at JFN Productions, publisher of Better Retailing.

A keen photographer and travel blogger, she will be working with Alex Higgs, Sian Anderson and Gareth Hannaford who work with suppliers and retailers to promote customer relations and higher sales.

She will help to create branded content with an emphasis on photography and video.

Contact: [email protected]

Ireland’s 47 specialists

The Irish Association of Health Stores reports 47 stores completed its Protocol for Customer Care while nine candidates sat Diploma and Certificate Health Food Institute papers in three locations around the country. Administrator Alan McGrath says running an ‘academic year’ from May to May has created a stronger focus on training. The Protocol is a requirement for continued IAHS membership and helps set member stores apart from non sector-specific retailers, he adds.

Gluten-free up by a third

Consumer behaviour analyst Kantar Worldpanel noted the boom in free-from in its grocery market report this year. “Great demand for gluten- or dairy-free products, particularly from younger shoppers, has boosted the free-from category by 36% year-on-year,” said Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight, after Kantar’s grocery market report for the 12 weeks to the end of March “In fact, 54% of the population purchased a free-from product during the past three months – that's 3.3 million more people than last year.”

Source: and Speciality Food Magazine

Liverpool is top for fitness

Liverpool has been named the fittest city in the UK following new research into fitness levels across the country. A survey of 2,000 UK adults carried out by training and course provider, found that 71% of scousers claimed to exercise at least once a week.

Manchester and London followed in second and third place with 66% and 65% of residents respectively hitting the gym at least once a week. Oxford was fourth with 62% and Leeds fifth with 59%.

As well as activity levels, the survey also quizzed respondents on their consciousness about what they eat.

While 77% of Liverpool residents claim to be careful when it comes to their diet, Manchester leads the way in nutrition as 85% of locals said they are careful about what they eat.

10 free places available for HFI diploma course

As part of the annual HFMA/Roger Lane Scholarship, the Health Food Manufacturers Association and Lanes Health, a long-standing Patron of the Health Food Institute, are providing funding for 10 candidates to gain Part One of the HFI Diploma.

This jointly funded legacy initiative recognises Roger Lane’s passionate commitment to this industry and the importance of having well-trained and knowledgeable health food retailers.

Read the full story here...

100 stores already confirmed for Wake Up To Organic 2017

100 stores have already confirmed that they will be participating in this year's 'Wake Up To Organic' on 14 June 2017, and there's still time for more retailers to get involved.

Using breakfast as a starting point, Wake Up To Organic encourages more consumers to make the switch to organic at breakfast. The annual campaign is designed to increase footfall and sales of organic by promoting organic breakfasts in independent stores across the UK. Stores from Brighton to Bristol, Edinburgh, London, Manchester and Norwich have already signed up to the event. Participating stores and cafés are hosting a range of events and linking up with nationwide PR and social media activity using the hashtag #WakeUpToOrganic.

Catherine Fookes, Campaign Manager at the Organic Trade Board, said: “It's fantastic that we have reached the 100 store milestone for Wake Up To Organic. From last year's campaign we know that it's a great opportunity for retailers to demonstrate to customers how simple and beneficial it is to make the switch to organic. And there's still time for more retailers and cafés to sign up and take part in the campaign”.

All participating retailers will receive a toolkit to help them make the most of hosting Wake Up breakfast events in store. Infinity Foods Cooperative will be providing breakfast boxes of their delicious organic products to all participating stores.

To find out more about how to take part contact Tilly Ashton at the Organic Trade Board: [email protected]

Natural & Organic Awards Europe 2017 winners announced

Congratulations to the Natural & Organic Awards Europe 2017 winners & finalists, announced on Monday 3 April at the Natural & Organic Products Europe trade show.

The 'best new product' awards were voted for by visitors to the show on Sunday 2 April and then judged by a panel of leading industry experts. The 13 winners were selected from over 320 New Product Showcase entries, in categories covering food, health, beauty and natural living.

The Natural Products Outstanding Achievement Award was won by Cheryl Thallon, (pictured above, fourth from left) MD of Viridian Nutrition, who said:

"I'm very touched and very moved to receive such a prestigious award after 30 years in the industry. I'm very passionate about the health food industry and our mission to help people get healthy and stay healthy".

Read more here...

Naturally pampered pets?

The UK pet care market is expected to grow by 8.6%, reaching £4.5 billion by 2021 with owners more willing than ever to invest in pet health and wellness products, according to Euromonitor.

Currently the domain only for larger health stores, Euromonitor says high quality, niche products are gaining ground as consumers focus on product ingredients, including all-natural and organic pet food.

Added functionality and healthy products are top-of-mind among pet owners interested in giving their pets the same treatment as any other family member.

Independents ahead of supermarkets

Supermarket sales of organic have grown by 6.1%

Independent retailers increased sales of organic by 6.3%

Sales of organic products through home delivery have grown by 10.5%

The organic beauty and wellbeing sector grew by 13% to be worth £61.2m

Cheryl rides ‘a galloping horse’

Viridian MD Cheryl Thallon’s sunny nature shone through when she was interviewed on Channel 4 News, revealing a 23% increase in business in January following the impact of exchange rates and Brexit.

With exports up 76%, the experience was “a bit like riding a galloping horse”, she said. But she warned this was masking the increase in raw materials import prices.

The news report centred on the release of an independently conducted Quarterly Economic Survey published by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) which focused on the health of the British economy.

The TV crew spent several hours at Viridian Nutrition headquarters filming the interview in the warehouse and a range of nutritional supplements.

She was joining a business panel discussing opportunities surrounding Brexit “doing all I can to promote the high regard and long-term security of the specialist health sector.”

Natural move

The Natural Way in Braintree has moved to new, larger premises on the High Street after striking a deal for low rates with the local authority. Richard Sambridge decided on the move after rent issues at the 30-year-old business.

Julie Goodwin’s twentieth

In January 1997, Julie Goodwin used the redundancy money from her job as a pharmaceutical researcher to open the Natural Therapy Centre in Hertford.

Therapists queued up to work in her two treatment rooms and six of them are still with her. “I still remember my very first client that day, a lovely lady called Penny Briggs,” says Julie. Not long after that, the health food shop a few doors down became available when the owner decided to retire so Julie took it over, providing six therapy rooms above the busy 1000sq.ft. store.

Needing yet another challenge, Julie started another health store and therapy centre from scratch in Welwyn Garden City when she rented the site of a former Radio Rentals shop. “In those 20 years, health food has become much more mainstream,” she says, “and we’re seeing a resurgence of specialist dietary foods. Finding new and unique products and foods to meet this demand is very exciting.”

Bags for charity

Food For Thought stores in Kingston and Guildford have made two donations of £600 to Surrey Wildlife Trust and Starlight Childrens Foundation using the funds raised from the 5p charge on carrier bags.

Kallo and Clipper go outdoors

Kallo, the natural and organic food brand owned by Wessanen UK, is using a combined mobile advertising and office sampling drive to further establish itself in the snacking-on-the-go category. The joint campaign looks to raise awareness of Kallo’s low-calorie, natural snack range.

Targeting approximately 400,000 commuters across London, Kallo’s mobile advert will be triggered when consumers are in close range of convenience stores in and around the major rail stations that stock Kallo snacking lines.

Using GPS tracking, 3G/4G and train line and station wi-fi signals, the campaign will enable Kallo to detect the location of commuters and target those with a keen interest in healthy eating. Kallo is also taking 50,000 of its chocolate portion packs to offices across the capital.

Clipper, another brand owned by Wessanen, has dedicated record spend to an outdoor advertising campaign that celebrates its black tea range. Clipper is the fastest-growing everyday tea brand – growing value sales over the last 12 months by 11% and outperforming the category.

The ‘Flavour that Sings’ advert features a threedimensional collage of charming hand-crafted paper objects made by Dutch artist Noa Verhofstad, displayed in a kaleidoscopic effect to represent the burst of flavour found in each cup.

The adverts run until Spring across London Underground stations and on-street locations.

Better Retailing Secret Shopper Award results announced

The Better Retailing Awards are run in conjunction with the Health Food Institute to reward excellence in health food retailing.

Each year we send our secret shoppers to visit independent health food stores all around the UK and Ireland and mark them in five sections - first impressions, store layout, personal attention, check out and overall impression. The winner of this year's award was announced at the HFI Annual Lecture and Luncheon on 9th March.

Tullivers of York is the winner of the 2016 Better Retailing Secret Shopper Awards, sponsored by the Health Food Institute. Tullivers owners Helen Spath and David Weston are pictured with Editor Alistair Forrest (centre) after collecting their award at the HFI annual lecture and luncheon. The store scored a record 46/50 points after our Secret Shopper visited at the end of last year. Our secret shopper described Tullivers as “a real gem of a find and I am impressed by the friendliness, helpfulness and knowledge of the staff”.

This year's Highly Commended stores are The Aloe Tree, Ennistymon, Co Clare and Chelsea Health Store, King’s Road, London.

Look out for the next issue of Better Retailing magazine where we talk to the winners.

Achievements recognised at HFI lunch

The Health Food Institute announced some high class winners at its annual lecture and luncheon event in London on March 9.

The Jimmy Lee Richardson Diploma Award, given to the student with the highest mark in last year’s Diploma, went to Zoe Watson of Grampian Health Foods. The Ian Martin Student of the Year Award was won by Sara Dowler.

The James Henry Cook Award, presented to a person or company whose ideals most closely conform to those of the founder of the first British health store in 1898, went to Sara Novakovic of Oliver’s Wholefood Store, Kew.

The Better Retailing Secret Shopper Award, sponsored by the HFI, was presented to Helen Spath of Tulliver’s, York, which scored an exceptional 46 marks out of 50.

New HFI Fellows are Alan Martin of Food For Thought at Kingston and Guildford; Dilip Kotecha of Quality Vitamins and Herbs, Glasgow; Sara Novakovic of Oliver’s Wholefood Store, Kew; and Paul Johnson of The Natural Store in Falmouth, Helston and St. Austell.

The winners are pictured with industry leaders at the event.

FSA's fresh start

The Food Standards Agency is creating a new blueprint for the way food businesses are regulated.

Speaking at a Parliamentary reception, FSA chair Heather Hancock promised: “We will move away from a ‘one-sizefits- all’ approach to tailored and proportionate regulation that reflects relative risk, reinforces accountability, and delivers more for public health.”

The new regime will be in place by 2020.

PAYE support from HMRC

HMRC has launched a series of You Tube videos to help small business employers to better understand payroll reponsibilities. Subjects covered include When and how to pay PAYE, Payroll software and sending reports, How to send your final PAYE submission, and How to issue P60s.

Here’s the link: http://

Euro Event in London

VeggieWorld, Europe’s largest and oldest vegan event of its kind, is coming to the UK for the first time in April. The show attracts exhibitors from across Europe with an average of 8,000 visitors at events in Germany, The Netherlands, France, Spain and Switzerland.

VeggieWorld London takes place on Saturday and Sunday April 8 & 9 at Kensington Town Hall.

Onward vegan soldiers

Vegan food sales are up by a massive 1,500% in the past year, according to new figures released to coincide with World Vegan Day in the Autumn.

More than half a million people in the UK now say they follow the vegan lifestyle, up by 260% in the last 10 years, and a third of the population identifies itself as ‘flexitarian’, which simply means they are cutting down on their meat consumption.

To illustrate the switch to plant-based alternatives, Alpro points to sales of unsweetened almond milk which are up by 2,343% since 2015. Vegetarian meat alternatives are also up by thousands of percentage points, as are sales of snacks such as tofu and falafel.

Double top for Julie

Julie Goodwin’s Natural Health store picked up two prestigious awards at the Welwyn Garden Awards – Best Independent Shop of the Year and Retailer with the Most Votes of all the entries.

Julie’s comment? “Woo-Hoo!”.

Don't miss this

Make a date – March 9th, 2017. The Health Food Institute Annual Lecture and Luncheon is a networking event not to be missed.

Each year, this awards ceremony honours those who have achieved the greatest success in training and education in the previous year. The HFI lunch attracts retailers, practitioners and suppliers from all corners of the UK and Ireland, and top speakers. This year’s speakers are yet to be announced, but previous luminaries have included Craig Sams, Robert Verkerk and Jan de Vries.

In his keynote address, HFI chair John Frisby will reveal some compelling new industry training data and outline ambitious plans for the coming year.

The highly regarded HFI training courses provide an accredited modular programme suitable for those new to health products and act as an endorsement for the more experienced.

Venue is the Royal Over-Seas League in London – retailers, HFI Fellows and HFI Members £40.00, all others £45 per ticket. Email [email protected] or phone 0115 9769 7280.

Look out for...

A.Vogel has a new menopause e-book that retailers can offer free to their customers.

Written by menopause expert Eileen Durward, the e-book is a simple guide to help women as they go through the perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause.

Talk to your A.Vogel rep about free downloads or call 01294 277344 to find out more.

Encouraging retail sales

Office for National Statistics October 2016 figures:

  • Volume of retail sales increased in October by 7.4% compared with October 2015, the highest rate of growth since April 2002. Compared with September 2016, volume increased by 1.9%.
  • Sales by value increased by 6.6% compared with October 2015 and increased by 2.1% compared with September 2016.
  • The amount spent online increased by 26.8% compared with October 2015 and by 1.3% compared with September 2016.

The Unilever debate during October, which saw a 10-12% price increase on products such as Marmite, might have had a small effect.

Surviving winter

Bio-Kult’s ‘Survive Winter’ campaign runs until March offering retail support through its crack team of nutritional experts.

Staff training can be combined with in-store events to encourage footfall and there’s material for eye-catching window displays and POS.

There’s also a social media campaign across FaceBook and Twitter throughout December with an array of prizes to help retailers and consumers ‘Survive Winter’.

“We wanted to devise a campaign to help retailers promote the things consumers can do to bullet-proof their immunity,” says Bio-Kult brand manager Hayley Milne.

To get your hands on a Survive Winter pack, organise an in-store event and create a window display – and receive a Bio-Kult advent calendar – contact your local advisor or email [email protected].

Irish go back to the classroom

Irish Association of Health Stores members have their finger on the pulse of food law following an information day in Cork with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

Around 20 Munster members learned about providing food information to consumers, minimum labelling requirements, how to notify a food supplement to the FSAI, ingredients to watch out for, how to handle product recalls and selling or advertising food online.

Meanwhile, IAHS stores have access to an Adverse Reactions Datashare programme in which member stores can upload customer feedback, good or bad, about any product.

“With a huge number of new product ranges coming to the market on a weekly basis this will be a valuable tool in accessing the suitability of products and valuing products and ranges where it really matters – at the coalface of retailing,” says IAHS Administrator Alan McGrath.

The IAHS also has an active members-only Facebook discussion group, a mentoring programme and a live local supplier and artisan digital database.

VegfestUK to host vegan trade show at Olympia in October 2017

VegfestUK's organisers have announced dates for VegfestUK Trade 17, the UK's first dedicated vegan trade show, which is to be held at Olympia London on October 20th 2017.

VegfestUK Trade will be open to trade and media on the Friday at Olympia, before the well established and hugely successful VegfestUK London consumer event which will be at the same venue on Saturday October 21st and Sunday October 22nd.

The website will go live for bookings in early 2017.

Former England coach to deliver keynote at Retail IT

Mention the name Sir Clive Woodward and it’s rugby, not retail that immediately comes to mind.

But the former England rugby coach is to deliver the keynote speech at Retail IT’s annual event, which this year takes place at the China Exchange in London, on October 19th.

Sir Clive will discuss how incremental changes to a business approach can yield significant results, drawing on insights and case studies from his sporting and business career.

For more information visit or call 020 8605 9727.

Bag a bursary with Bio-Kult

Thinking of expanding the nutritional therapy services in your store? Bio-Kult’s student bursary returns next year offering aspiring nutritional therapists the chance to realise their dream.

This year’s winner, Victoria Sims (left) is pictured with Bio-Kult’s Hayley Milne after collecting her £1000 prize to spend on her nutritional career goals. Runner up Zoe Warner also won £500.

Students can be notified when 2017 applications open by registering at

The case for organic meat

Hats off to the Alliance to Save our Antibiotics for research that revealed extremely high levels of antibiotic-resistant E.coli bacteria found in UK supermarket chicken and pork meat.

And to the Soil Association for making appropriate PR noise to the extent that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has pledged to cut the use of antibiotics on farms.

The staggering research was announced right at the beginning of Organic September and is a major boost to sales of organic meat.

The Cambridge University study is the first to examine UK-origin retail meat for resistance to a wide range of important antibiotics for treating E. coli infections. It found very high levels of resistance to two more highly important antibiotics.

Dublin hosts the second Natural Health Expo

Back by popular demand – the Irish Health Trade Association’s show for health and wellness retailers and practitioners returns to the RDS Dublin in early October

With hundreds of products on display, many of which are being exclusively unveiled at the event, this year’s Natural Health Expo is not to be missed.

Read on...

Education the key in Ireland

Irish retailers are reporting a “steady as she goes” trend with slow but manageable growth out of recession.

IAHS administrator Alan McGrath says the role of high quality education for health store staff is an essential point of difference as recovery gathers pace.

He points to an increase in the number of candidates signing up to Health Food Institute Certificates and Diplomas. And the IAHS Customer Care Protocol is now available in digital format.

The IAHS has produced an expanding online directory of Irish producers and artisans, allowing members to engage directly with producers in their area or in a chosen field.

Muslim lifestyle in Manchester

The UK’s biggest showcase of the trillion pound Muslim consumer market is expecting to attract thousands of visitors and hundreds of businesses from across the world.

The award-winning Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016 (MLE2016) takes place for its second consecutive year at Manchester’s EventCity on October 29 and 30.

It aims to provide a unique marketing platform for brands and businesses in fashion, food & drink, travel, media, finance, and health & beauty.

Skin food goes fashionable

Natural Beauty pioneer Weleda has teamed up with graduate fashion students at Northampton University as part of a year-long campaign to mark the 90th anniversary of its best-selling skincare product, Skin Food.

Challenged to create designs inspired by the iconic backstage beauty hero, the students’ work will be showcased by Weleda during London Fashion Week (September 22-25) in front of a high-profile judging panel.

Brexit - what happens now?

Introducing our new regular columnist on legislation issues — Chris Whitehouse, Chairman of The Whitehouse Consultancy

It was not the result that most, including many in the leave camp, expected. On June 23 Britain voted to leave the European Union. A few hours later, the Prime Minister announced that someone else will lead the UK during its negotiations on exiting the EU.

So the question now is, what on earth will the world look like for the natural healthcare sector once these negotiations are finally complete? And when will they even be complete?

Read the full article here...

Need to know – what to tell customers about microplastics

Recently, global attention has been drawn to the use of microplastic beads in cosmetic products and their environmental impact caused by plastic debris. International concern has put the spotlight on microbeads either for a ban or at least a phasing out of their use.

To date, despite a joint statement by European member state delegations, there has been no fixed decision on their prohibition in the EU, leaving some member states such as the UK and Sweden to consider their own independent ban.

So what are microplastic beads (or microbeads)? Why are they used in cosmetics? What environmental damage might they do and how? Can they be found in natural/ organic cosmetics?

Less than 5mm in size, synthetic plastic polymer beads function as minuscule scouring brushes and are mainly associated with exfoliating dead skin cells, and so cleansing the skin, in a rinse-off product like a shampoo or body scrub. But they can also be found in toothpastes (as abrasives), or in nail polishes and eye shadows.

Once they are rinsed down the drain, and eventually into the water treatment system, they cannot, due to their size, be removed by filters before reaching the surface waters and finally ending up in the oceans. Here, because they are insoluble in water and non-biodegradable, they accumulate and may be ingested by fish-eating birds, sea mammals, fish and invertebrates in our oceans: polluting and contaminating, and negatively impacting on the marine environment.

Whether or not microbeads might be found in cosmetics claiming to be ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ will depend on whether the products are certified, what standard they are certified to, and what that criteria permits or prohibits. All finished products that carry the international NATRUE seal will never include synthetic artificial ingredients like microbeads – these are strictly prohibited by the NATRUE criteria.

Knowing that microbeads are not permitted by the NATRUE standard, what effective natural alternatives are brands using instead? NATRUE permits only three classifications of ingredient: natural, natural-identical and derivednatural ingredients. Ingredients that act as natural exfoliants can fall into any one of NATRUE’s permitted categories.

Natural exfoliants could be: inorganic minerals, like those found naturally in quartz sand using the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) silica or hydrated silica; exfoliants made from biodegradable jojoba beads using the INCI ingredient name Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil or from tiny beeswax pearls (Cera Alba); natural abrasives and exfoliants isolated from non-GM plants such as sucrose (from sugar cane), or seed/shell powders and kernels from apricot, olive and walnut.

Mark Smith is Scientific and Regulatory Manager at NATRUE

Panacea scoops Watford awards

Panacea Health & Beauty’s Watford store has wowed the judges in the town’s intu Retailer Awards.

Voted for by customers, intu shopping centre staff and the stores themselves Panacea emerged as winner for Best Window Display and runner-up to John Lewis for customer service, ‘Shop I love the most’ and engagement with the community.

Says Store Manager Oana Caldararu: “These awards are fantastic recognition for the team which has regularly been complimented by the customers for their outstanding customer service and the window displays.”

Panacea has five branches in London and the South East.

Better superfood

A unique blend of organically harvested superfoods created by BetterYou has scooped the top prize in the Best Supplement category at the Veggie Awards. Category judge and editor Allison Jacobs chose BetterYou’s TotalNutrition Superfood powder as her winner after trialling the product, while medicinal chef Dale Pinnock has created a TotalNutrition recipe booklet.

All buzzing in Wexford

Christine Meehan at the Natural Health Store in Wexford, Ireland, reports excellent results from recent in-store promotions.

A talk on the menopause with Eileen Durward from A Vogel (pictured) saw sales of Menoforce and Menoforce Support surge.

“We hold regular in-store events but our most popular one is Clair’s food tasting day, when customers can taste some healthy homemade treats and learn about ingredients they may not have cooked with before.

“Our in store Nutritional Therapist offers free one-to-one health consultations, which book up quickly and generate sales. New customers with dietary limitations receive a personal shopping experience. We walk them through the shop pointing out the foods they can and can’t eat.”

Promotions and events are supported by regular quarterly leaflets and already a Mental Health Awareness morning planned for June has attracted massive interest.

“Our little town is buzzing again and we are seeing an increase in younger customers coming into our store,” adds Christine. “With online trends such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, the younger generation is much more informed and eager for new products.”

THS open day a big success

Around 148 retailers representing 200 stores attended The Health Store open day at the end of June. “It was one of the best we’ve hosted in recent years,” said Sales & Marketing Director Paul Rideout.

In all, 96 suppliers exhibited, all with event-only deals. Raffle prizes totalling £5,000 of stock were won by retailers as well as a European short break, a £300 THS hamper, fully merchandised Weleda and SAAF product stands, and £250 worth of health books contributed by Viridian.

Claire is a high achiever

Claire Grady, senior sales advisor at Evergreen Healthfoods, Galway, is pictured with the Andrew Cape Memorial Award for highest achiever in the Health Food Institute Diploma 2015.

She was named winner of the HFI Jimmy Lee Richardson Diploma Award at the Institute’s annual lecture and awards luncheon earlier this year

Danger oils – where's the outcry?

Contaminants formed during the processing of refined vegetable oils are genotoxic and carcinogenic, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The presence of the chemical compound 3-MCPD in vegetable oil, processed food and even infant formula ought to have caused a consumer outcry but, according to, conflicting industry messages have confused the food media.

EFSA concluded in May there is enough evidence that glycidyl fatty acid esters are harmful and that babies can be exposed to up to 10 times the acceptable levels.

Food safety expert Dr Dario Drongo is quoted as saying the industry is determined to keep production costs down in spite of well-known risks.

Migraine mum praises magnesium

A 43-year old mother from Bristol who suffered frequent migraines for a decade has found relief thanks to a magnesium oil spray.

Leah Jefferies took part in a trial by BetterYou and Migraine Action aimed at understanding the beneficial effects of magnesium on migraines.

The three-month trial involved 68 migraine sufferers using BetterYou’s Magnesium Oil Original spray twice a day.

Leah noticed a significant improvement in the severity and frequency of her migraines which impacted both her general health and performance at work. Half of the sufferers felt that the magnesium spray had a positive effect on their migraines. All experienced a decrease in the overall severity of attacks while 70% also experienced a reduction in the duration of the attack.

It is estimated that 25 million school and work days are lost to migraines every year with 8m UK sufferers.

Rebekah Aitchison from Migraine Action said: “There is currently no cure for migraine, but there are options in managing this neurological condition. With one in seven people across the UK affected, and an estimated 190,000 attacks occurring every day, it is vital that we are able to help more people like Leah.”

Move over Lynn Lord

Natures Aid MD Lynn Lord was given the Outstanding Achievement Award at Natural & Organic Products Europe – and promptly announced her semi-retirement along with husband Dave Lord and fellow director Paul Marshall.

Three new directors have been appointed. They are Chris Morrey (Director of Commerce), Tim Gaunt (Director of Technical Sales) and David Sole (Director of Operations), pictured at a recent awards event.

Read why Natures Aid co-founder and former HFMA chair Lynn Lord explains why she believes the independent health food retailer has a rosy future here

Planet Organic nips in ahead of Amazon

The UK's largest fully-certified organic supermarket, Planet Organic, has teamed up with independent store delivery service to deliver natural food and drink, health and beauty products and household goods across London.

With over 5,000 products to choose from, Londoners can expect delivery on their doorsteps next-day within a precise one-hour timeslot. And the partnership with Hubbub includes 100 independents across London who are now offering organic groceries alongside Planet Organic.

The London Express delivery service pips Amazon to the post – the online giant was expected to launch its one-hour online groceries business Amazon Fresh last month.  Full story and background in the summer issue of Better Retailing.

• Pictured are Hubbub founder Marisa Leaf (left) and Planet Organic founder Renée Elliott

Nelsons-sponsored stand awarded 4 stars at Chelsea Flower Show

For the second year in a row, Nelsons has received great news from the Chelsea Flower Show – Horatio's Garden stand, which the healthcare products manufacturer has sponsored this year, has just been awarded a prestigious 4 stars by the RHS in the trade stand competition.

Horatio’s Garden builds beautiful outdoor spaces at NHS spinal injury centres, giving patients a stress free place to recover amongst nature.

Evidence shows that gardens and gardening have a positive effect on a person’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing and having an inspiring outdoor haven is particularly crucial for people impacted by spinal injuries.

There are currently gardens at the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre at Salisbury District Hospital and Scotland’s National Spinal Unit in Glasgow and they were designed by Cleve West and RHS judge James Alexander-Sinclair respectively. Their next garden will be at The National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and will be designed by Joe Swift, an RHS Gold medal winner and presenter of BBC Gardeners’ World.

Nelsons, one of the UK's largest manufacturers of natural healthcare products, is sponsoring Horatio’s Garden stand in order to raise awareness of the charity and funds for their next garden through exclusive merchandise, including a stunning porcelain pestle and mortar by sculptor John Julian. The stand is on Eastern Avenue, EA514 and it is staffed by volunteers and former patients of the spinal centre at Salisbury Hospital who will be able to give first hand accounts of the benefits of Horatio’s Gardens.

Advertising boost for indie retailers

To celebrate its 250th anniversary, Wessanen ran a competition in its Retailer Club Newsletter, offering independent health store retailers the chance to win a free advert worth £250 to spend in their local press.

The lucky winners were David Hammon from Phoenix Community Store in Forres, Richard Sambridge from The Natural Way in Banstead, Rachael Higgins from Beau’s Kitchen in Skipton and Jessica Hughes from Organically Speaking in Hartley Wintney in Hampshire.

Jessica says: ‘It was a really lovely surprise to win, as I never win anything! I was really pleased to be able to choose what publication we could place our ad in – we chose Hampshire Life, which we know has a readership that forms a good part of our customer base. We had advertised with them before, but didn’t have the budget to do it again, so it was brilliant to have it all paid for by Wessanen.”

New store for Sonas Healthfoods

Sonas Healthfoods in Newcastle West, County Limerick, has relocated from Maiden Street to The Square. To celebrate, they held an official launch day on 11 March where their customers got the chance to meet some of their suppliers, enter a prize draw and sample some of the delicious menu offerings. The opening coincided with the national fundraising day for Cancer Support services so all coffee sales on the day were donated directly to the Daffodil Day Fund.

Weleda awarded Butterfly Mark

Weleda has been awarded the coveted Butterfly Mark, powered by Positive Luxury. The Butterfly Mark is awarded to luxury lifestyle brands that take pride in their craftsmanship, service and design, whilst caring about our planet’s resources.

Through Positive Luxury’s screening process, Weleda has demonstrated its commitment to all its products being free from unnecessary chemicals, having environmentally-friendly packaging and working with suppliers with clear policies in place to prevent child labour and unfair pay, to name a few.

Jayn Sterland, Commercial Director of Weleda, commented: “Weleda has been an ethical manufacturer since the company was first founded in 1921, and it is something we work very hard at. We strive to make improvements in all areas of sustainability every year, continually monitoring and improving our efforts, and we don’t rest on our laurels.”

Boost for natural beauty

UK sales of organic health and beauty products reached 54.2 million in 2015 according to the Soil Association’s Organic Market Report 2016, up 21.6% on 2014.

In addition, Mintel’s Trends Report highlighted that some 42% of UK consumers now prefer to buy natural and organic personal care products because they believe they are better for the environment.

And demand for natural skincare products isn’t gender specific – 50% of UK men now believe that facial skincare products with natural ingredients are better for their skin.

Redesign for Heath and Heather

Herbal tea brand Heath & Heather has redesigned its organic range to communicate its provenance, superior quality and the breadth of delicious infusions and health benefits within the range.

Many of the herbs that are included in the range are native English herbs that grow wild in hedgerows and across the English countryside and this has been brought to life with the new design which captures the herbal and fruit inclusions and creating a ‘hedgerow’ of health and happiness on shelf. The design is also inspired by the original vision of the company founders with the brand name displayed on a ‘seed tag' nestling within an abundance of herbal ingredients.

The new design features a coloured top panel to help consumers identify their favourite infusions easily and with further information on the benefits of each tea on the back of pack they offer a simple and beautiful way to bring herbal teas into your home.

For further information contact Rahul Kale +44-7968195299.

Health Food Institute Lecture and Luncheon

The HFI did themselves proud with another informative and fun luncheon for all their members.

The Health Food Institute’s annual lecture and luncheon is always a special day, and the 2016 event was no exception. The day brings together members of the institute, health food suppliers, retailers and manufacturers, and is a chance to hear some great speakers and enjoy a great lunch in the auspicious surroundings of Over-Seas House in central London.

Tom Moses from the HFI gave the welcome address this year, including a message from John Frisby who was unable to attend this year.

The Jack Noah Memorial Lecture was this year given by Robert Verkerk, who gave a fascinating insight into the future of health care, and how our own industry’s role is affected by politics, bureaucracy and the changing face of Britain.

After a delicious lunch, the afternoon was rounded off by a fantastic keynote speech from Les Illingworth, full of hilarious stories from his many years in the health food industry and illustrated with great photos – and even some poetry!

Awards ceremony

Each year the HFI awards a series of prizes to recognise excellence in all areas of the industry. First they welcome new HFI Fellows, and this year fellowships were awarded to Michael Hill, Marilyn Glenville, Les Illingworth, and Tim Ryan (pictured above).

The next award is the Ian Martin NAHS Student of the Year Award, given in memory of Ian Martin who was for many years Director of the NAHS, and a significant contributor to the early development of the health food trade. It’s awarded to the student who achieves the highest marks in Part One of the HFI Professional Diploma Course, and was this year awarded to Annie Shead of Greens Health Foods in Leigh-on-Sea.

This was followed by our own award, the Better Retailing Secret Shopper Award. We award this each year to the independent health food store which has achieved the highest mark in our Secret Shopper store reviews that run throughout the year. The idea is to seek out and reward true excellence in retailing. This year’s winner was the Health Store, Liffey Valley, Dublin, and you can read more about our winner – and the runners up – here.

The Jimmy Lee Richardson Diploma Award was presented to Claire Grady, Senior Sales Advisor at Evergreen in Galway. Finally the James Henry Cook Award – given each year to a person or company whose personal and business ideals most closely conform to those of the man to whom this award is dedicated, the founder of the first British health store in 1898. This year’s award was presented to Cheryl Thallon of Viridian Nutrition for her long, dedicated and inspirational service to the health food Industry.

Thanks to the sponsors

Alison Collingwood, Administrator at the HFI, says: ‘The HFI annual lecture and luncheon is always a great event, and we wouldn’t be able to put it on each year without the fantastic support that we receive from our sponsors. This year we want to say a big thank you to Bee Health Ltd, Bio-Nature Ltd, CherryActive, Diversified Communications UK, JHN Productions Ltd, LanesHealth, Lifeplan Products Ltd, Martin and Pleasance, Modern Herbals Ltd, Natural Trade Brokers, Quest Vitamins, The Health Store, and Viridian Nutrition.’

HFMA sees EU Referendum as opportunity

The HFMA has opted not to take a position on either side of the EU debate, but wants to take the opportunity to highlight its concerns. Graham Keen, HFMA Executive Director, said: "The Brexit question has been discussed at HFMA Council meetings, and whether we should take a position on 'In/Out' has been considered very carefully, taking into account advice from our Parliamentary advisers. We have concluded that we should not take a position one way or the other, but that we should use the build-up to a Referendum, whatever the outcome, to press for better recognition for our industry’s concerns such as over-regulation and that individual member states, i.e. the UK, should be allowed to set their own agenda when it comes to issues like human nutrition. Our Chair, Robert Taylor, has written twice on this issue to the Prime Minister and received assurances that our concerns had been taken on board."

Read our article "EU Referendum - are you in or out?" here

The winner of the Pat Curran Award for Excellence in Customer Service

In the Winter 2015 issue of Better Retailing, we launched the Pat Curran Award for Excellence in Customer Service and told you how, if you work in an Irish health food store, your customers could vote for you. Health store customers and readers of our sister title, Rude Health magazine, were asked to nominate a store and staff member and give marks for their product portfolio, their knowledge, how friendly and helpful they are, whether they give great advice, their store layout, and grade them for innovation.

The aim of the award is to celebrate excellence in independent health food shops throughout Ireland. All customers who registered their vote were entered into a draw to win one of 10 three-month supplies of Eskimo oils worth €60 each.

Now we have the results in and can announce that the winner is Donna Hennelly who works at The Health Store in Briarhill Shopping Centre, Ballybrit, Co Galway. She received lots of votes and some wonderful commendations such as:

‘Donna is incredibly dedicated to her job and she has appropriate knowledge around health. She makes you feel that she is listening to you and understands what issues you have.’

‘Donna is a qualified nutritionist and has expert knowledge on why people should take certain products.’

‘Extremely warm and helpful service. Very knowledgeable on products, benefits and symptoms.’

Our winner, Donna Hennelly, says: ‘Thank you to everyone… who voted for me and to all my colleagues at The Health Store, Briarhill Shopping Centre, Galway. I am delighted and humbled to have won this great competition.’

Pukka Herbs commits to donating 1% of turnover to environmental causes

Global brand Pukka Herbs has committed to donating 1% of its turnover to environmental causes, through not-for-profit organisation, 1% for the Planet. 1% for the Planet is a global movement of companies donating at least 1% of their annual turnover to environmental not-forprofit organisations worldwide. Although growing in the US, the idea of connecting businesses, consumers and non-profits together for positive change in this way is new in the UK. Pukka Herbs is one of a handful of pioneering UK companies who have joined the scheme, pledging 1% of its turnover to create positive environmental change.

Pukka Herbs Cofounder, Tim Westwell said: “If we’re going to address the global problem of climate change there has to be a step change in how businesses behave. We feel strongly that organisations like Pukka Herbs have a responsibility and, through 1% for the Planet, an opportunity to contribute to this. As we succeed in connecting people with the health-giving power of herbs we can give back and protect the environment that is the source of our business, as well as our lives. We’d love it if more companies joined us for the benefit of people, plants and planet.”

Exciting expansion for Essential

Trading since 1971, Essential Trading is one of the largest worker co-operatives in the UK, and a proud pioneer of the wholefood market. Essential Trading wholesales, manufactures and distributes vegetarian wholefoods across the UK and beyond and was delighted to record unprecedented expansion last year.

Essential’s Eli Sarre commented: “2015 was an exciting year for Essential with sales hitting a record £16m, having increased annual turnover by more than £1m. We expanded our site in Bristol, which will all significantly improve working conditions as well as improving energy efficiency due to better insulation and low energy LED lighting. We have also increased our fleet of vehicles, allowing us to increase our number of regular nationwide deliveries.”

Fuel For School – tackling food waste and hunger in one go!

Suma has for some time now had a great working relationship with The Real Junk Food Project (TRJFP), who intercept food destined for landfill and cook delicious food with it in their network of cafes across the country.

Any food business finds itself with surplus food from time to time, and these people enable Suma to be almost zero waste. Even more exciting is that Suma is now an official partner in TRJP’s ‘Fuel for School’ project.

This project came about when Leeds headteacher Nathan Atkinson noticed some of his pupils did not have access to healthy foods. His contact with Adam Smith of TRJFP lead the pair to combine the two issues, food waste and hunger. Fuel for School diverts perfectly edible, healthy foods to schools where children and the community can benefit.

You can find out more at or at

Fresh success for Nature’s Corner

Nature’s Corner in Newbury has relocated from Bartholomew Street to Northbrook Street.

The re-opening was marked with lots of special offers and promotions, and goodie bags for customers.

Anita Hatch, Company Director at the store, said that the new location has been a great success for the popular store, with footfall up around 30% since the move.

Better Retailing Secret Shopper Award winner announced

At Better Retailing magazine we run our Secret Shopper awards annually, and are proud to have the award sponsored by the Health Food Institute.

Each year we send our secret shoppers to visit independent health food stores all around the UK and Ireland.  The idea is to seek out and reward true excellence in retailing, something that both our magazine and the Health Food Institute are keen to celebrate. The winner of this year’s award was announced at the HFI Annual Lecture and Luncheon on 18th February.

Our winning store is The Health Store, Liffey Valley, Dublin (whose manager Peter Horace is shown here receiving the trophy from Better Retailing editor, Siobhan Godwood). This store demonstrates true excellence in retailing. The Health Store started life in 1982 when the founder, Roger White, returned from his travels in India with a keen interest in alternative remedies and supplements, as well as healthy, vegetarian eating. The first store opened in Swords, followed by a second in Bray, and now there are 10 branches across Ireland. Our secret shopper found that the Liffey Valley branch is a great store, very well organised and with excellent staff, with its best asset being its excellent friendly and helpful staff who knew the store’s products inside out and answered some quite challenging questions.

Highly Commended was Swindon Pulse Health Cooperative in Swindon. Our secret shopper found that it was an enjoyable, leisurely shopping experience with excellent service.

Also Highly Commended was Healthy Route in Leicester. Our secret shopper found it a bright, welcoming store, with helpful and friendly staff, in a great location.

Look out for the next issue of Better Retailing magazine where we talk to the winners about the secrets behind their success.

Could your store win the Pat Curran Award for Excellence in Customer Service?

Pat Curran was a real hero of the Irish natural health world and many were truly saddened at his passing earlier this year. Pat set up PPC, which makes the well-known Irish brand of omega-3 Eskimo oils, over 20 years ago and was well liked by customers and colleagues alike. Pat was incredibly passionate about customer service and treating people with respect. To celebrate Pat’s life and acknowledge the rich legacy he has left behind, PPC and Pat’s family – wife Phil, daughters Olive and Hazel and son-in-law Michael – have launched the Pat Curran Award for Excellence in Customer Service.

If you work in an Irish health food store, your customers may wish to vote for your shop – and a member of your staff – for this award.

The member of staff who is the overall winner will receive €500 cash prize and their store will also receive a €500 which they can give to a charity of their choice. The objective of this worthwhile award is to celebrate excellence in independent health food shops throughout Ireland. Plus, when one of your customers registers their vote, they will be entered into a draw to win one of 10 three-month supplies of Eskimo oils worth €60 each.

How your customers can vote

Ask your customers to log onto and follow the instructions on how to vote. They will need to nominate a store and staff member and give them marks for product portfolio, knowledge, how friendly and helpful they are, whether they give great advice, store layout, and grade them for innovation. Closing date 12 February 2015.

First UK Chinese certification awarded via the Soil Association Certification partnership with OFDC

The first licence for UK organic exports to China has been awarded via the partnership between Soil Association Certification and China’s certification body, OFDC (Organic Food Development and Certification Centre of China). Soil Association Certification agreed the partnership in April 2014 to facilitate the export of organic products to China, and enable their customers to reach a market estimated to reach $9 billion by the end of 2015.

OMSCo (the Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative) is the first to receive the licence and is now able to supply Chinese certified milk to organic processors wanting to export to China. Demand for organic products in China is high and the country already imports over $48 billion of food and beverages from around the world. Organic dairy products are especially in demand following recent food scares and the initial certification for OMSCo covers 15m litres of organic milk, worth between £7 and £10m at port of export, depending on the end product the milk is used for.

Soil Association Certification supports all of its clients with export of products to new markets by helping them to meet legislative requirements and building strong links with certification bodies in other countries.

Archie Browns help homeless charities

Archie Browns health food shops and cafés in Cornwall are getting involved in the StreetSmart campaign again this Christmas. StreetSmart is a national campaign that aims to raise money each year for the homeless and vulnerable, via a voluntary £1 donation added to restaurant bills during November and December.

As all admin costs are paid by national StreetSmart sponsor, Deutsche Bank, 100% of the money raised goes directly to the charities – therefore, every pound donated in Cornwall will benefit St Petroc's Society, Cornwall Women's Refuge Trust and the Cornish branches of Foodbank. Caroline Perkins, manager of Archie Browns, said: "Archie Browns in both Truro and Penzance are pleased to be supporting StreetSmart once again. We know that every bit of help, however small, is vital for these local charities. As the weather turns colder we should all play our part to help the homeless and vulnerable, especially in our local communities. StreetSmart has been very well received by our customers in past years, and we hope that we can continue to make a difference in Cornwall with this year's donations."

HFMA successfully roots out unlicensed Echinacea and Devil's Claw products

The Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA) was pleased to learn recently that around 40 unlicensed Echinacea products and 70 unlicensed Devil's Claw products, from non-EU countries and making non-authorised health claims, had been removed from the Amazon website, following collaboration with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Following discussions in July 2015 with the MHRA, the HFMA raised concerns over issues relating to some selling activities of major online retailers, citing Echinacea and Devil's Claw in particular, and the marketing of health products that make illegal medicinal claims or are inappropriately labelled for the UK market. Graham Keen, Executive Director of the HFMA, said: "This is a very positive outcome which takes us another step towards ensuring safe and regulated natural health products for UK consumers, and we thank the MHRA for decisive response to this problem. It is also a very real and detrimental commercial issue for our members who invest heavily in producing products that meet all regulatory requirements. We will remain vigilant and continue to protect the interest of responsible retailers, who are producing high-quality products."

Two of the health industry's independent import/distribution companies to unite

Sussex-based Global By Nature (previously Xynergy Health Products) has announced that the company will be joining forces with Gloucestershire-based Planet Health International and will locate all warehousing to Cirencester.

With a portfolio of successful exclusive brands including Synergy Natural and Sunwarrior, Global By Nature has a wealth of experience spanning almost 30 years; starting in 1987 with just one man's mission to spread the word about spirulina. Today, Global By Nature Ltd is the UK arm of Sydney-based Global By Nature Pty Ltd; one of Australia's largest independent wholesalers with over 5,000 natural health products.

Mandy and Peter Harwood founded Planet Health International in 1996 distributing the premium health brands: Australian Bush Flower Essences, Lifestream, Qsilica, Watson & Son, Snor-ring and KiwiHerb. They will now hand over all distribution to GBN and focus solely on marketing activity for the Lifestream and Qsilica brands. Peter Harwood comments “We also have plans to launch other brands in the UK which will be marketed by us and distributed by Global By Nature.” Global By Nature will take responsibility for distribution of all aforementioned brands, selling across health food, grocery and pharmacy channels.

For more information email sales@

Cherry Active celebrates tenth anniversary

CherryActive celebrates its tenth anniversary on 1st January 2016. John Carey, CherryActive's Founder and Director, started the company when he discovered that tart Montmorency cherries, grown in the US for the cherry pie market, had a positive effect on his gout, a painful joint condition that he had suffered from for years.

He worked with Michigan's top cherry growers to produce Montmorency cherry concentrate. John and his team are so passionate about the product that they have worked tirelessly promoting it, and there's lots of ongoing research into CherryActive's many health benefits. As well as improvements for gout sufferers, research has shown significant results for CherryActive in improving sleep quality, reducing inflammation and speeding recovery after exercise. “The journey with exercise recovery benefits has been the most exciting,” says John, “We now boast international and premiership rugby, football and cricket teams as our customers, as well as a number of world-beating Olympic squads.”

60 years of studies show benefits of bee propolis

Bees produce an amazing substance, propolis, which has been used for thousands of years for human health. Egyptians even used propolis in the mummification process as it acts as a natural preservative and antimicrobial. Bee propolis is created from the resins bees collect from plant and tree buds and forms a sticky substance which they use to line their hive to keep germs at bay.

Beehives are known to be one of the most sanitary, bacteria-free places on earth. Propolis has been the subject of over 1,500 studies in the last 60 years. It has natural antibiotic and antiviral activity and has been shown to boost immunity, shrink tumours (most recent studies show its effectiveness as a treatment of prostate cancer) and to fight superbugs such as MRSA.

In recent years, in vitro and in vivo assays have provided remarkable new information concerning its mechanisms of action including as an immunomodulatory agent. Research shows that bee propolis also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and acts as a natural antibiotic against bacteria and can help speed wound healing. In addition bee propolis has also been shown to help fight colds and ‘flu, hay fever and fungal infections and to protect the liver and kidneys against toxic damage.

Bee propolis is a terrific addition to any daily health regime as it contains a surprising array of vitamins and minerals as well as high levels of antioxidants and bioflavonoids.

Study reveals misery of PMS

A study by Cleanmarine Krill Oil for Women has revealed the misery that PMS causes for working women in the UK. The study involved 2,000 UK females, and reveals that women often become anxious about calling in sick to work. Period pains are impacting on women’s everyday happiness and health, with a third of working women admitting they are stressed at having to take up to four days a year due to severe discomfort.

Nearly half (46 per cent) are scared to reveal the real reason why they need time off work, as a quarter (24 per cent) worry that ‘period symptoms’ won’t be taken seriously. However, one in 20 (five per cent) are so affected by the pain brought on by their period they take at least two weeks off work a year.

Commenting on the research findings, Caomhán McKernan for Cleanmarine said “It is clear that PMS is having a major impact on women’s working lives.  The research shows that there’s so much more to be done on raising awareness of PMS and the actions that can be taken to alleviate symptoms.  It’s miserable to see that 20 per cent of women face each month believing there is nothing they can do to beat period pain. PMS needs to be taken more seriously and spoken about more freely.”

Research suggests Elderberry eases coughs and colds

It’s September and back to school time, with winter just around the corner meaning coughs, colds and ‘flu are not far behind. Both in-vitro and human studies show that elderberry – one of Europe's oldest traditional remedies for treating coughs, colds and ‘flu – is effective in managing those sniffles.

Two key research studies funded by Iprona AG  – an Italian specialist in red fruit extraction and Europe’s largest processor of elderberry – examined the effect of elderberry on both ‘flu viruses and bacteria.  The first was an in-vitro study in 2010 and the second was a human study, with results revealed in July 2015.

Both studies showed that elderberry was effective. “The research indicates that using elderberry based products such as Berroxin® - which uses Iprona AG´s membrane enriched elderberry formula- as part of a regular regime could help the fight against upper respiratory infections for children and adults,” said Iprona Technical Director, Anthony Jacobs.

To find out more about elderberry and its benefits visit

Can garlic fight urinary tract infections?

Garlic extract may be an effective weapon against multi-drug resistant strains of pathogenic bacteria associated with urinary tract infections (UTI), according to a recent study published in the Pertanika Journal of Tropical Agricultural Science.

The study by researchers at the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences in India found that "even crude extracts of [garlic] showed good activity against multidrug-resistant strains where antibiotic therapy had limited or no effect. This provides hope for developing alternative drugs which may be of help in fighting the menace of growing antibacterial resistance," the team states. In this study, the team found that 56% of 166 bacteria strains isolated from the urine of people with UTI showed a high degree of resistance to antibiotics. However, about 82% of the antibiotic resistant bacteria were susceptible to a crude aqueous extract of Allium sativum.

According to the researchers, "ours is the first study to report the antibacterial activity of aqueous garlic extract against multidrug-resistant bacterial isolates from infected urine samples leading to UTI. To conclude, there is evidence that garlic has potential in the treatment of UTI and maybe other microbial infections."

Winner of A.Vogel’s window competition

Throughout April and May A.Vogel Herbal Remedies ran a window competition in which they invited health food stores and pharmacies to display their ‘Sleep’ window kit in the most creative and attractive way possible. The kit included two characters, Valerian the dormouse and Hops the rabbit, alongside marketing materials relating to A.Vogel’s herbal remedy Dormeasan, a traditional herbal remedy for sleep disturbances.

With kits going to hundreds of stores nationwide, the competition was fierce, but Ceres Natural Foods of Yeovil was crowned the overall winner. Suzy Langdon, Manager of Ceres Natural Foods, said: ‘Our sales assistant Hannah McDonald did the window, and it was absolutely beautiful. We were thrilled to win – Hannah puts a lot of time and energy into the window displays that she does for us and they’re always wonderful, and we were also really impressed with the materials that A.Vogel provided.’

Judges from A.Vogel deemed Ceres a well-deserved winner due to the amount of time and effort that had clearly gone into their beautiful window display. The window kit was rolled out as part of a nationwide campaign by A.Vogel to promote Dormeasan, a traditional herbal remedy made from fresh extracts of hops and valerian, hence the names of the characters. Valerian the dormouse and Hops the rabbit were created by illustrator Frances Evans.

Natural solution to chronic constipation

New research conducted by Atlantia Food Clinical Trials Ltd and Probiotics International Ltd (Protexin), has revealed an effective natural solution to chronic, functional constipation, dramatically reducing the need for laxatives. In this study 69 individuals aged between 18 and 80 who were suffering from functional constipation, and experiencing less than three bowel movements a week, were divided into an active or placebo group.

The active group were given Lepicol, a 3-in-1 supplement containing probiotics, prebiotic and psyllium husk fibre, and the control group received a placebo for the duration of the four-week study. The study was randomised, and double blinded. In one week the number of bowel movements in the active group doubled, and was maintained at this healthy level for the remainder of the trial. During the four week period, those in the active group saw a significant drop in laxative usage, reduced from a staggering 64.2% usage to just 6.4%.

Dr Mayur Joshi, Medical Advisor at Probiotics International Ltd (Protexin) comments, “Functional constipation is extremely common, with up to 28% of the UK population suffering from chronic symptoms. Up to 40% of the general population will resort to using laxatives at some stage in their lives, despite conventional advice to only use laxatives intermittently. This study clearly demonstrates that Lepicol, a safe and natural supplement, can significantly improve symptoms and quality of life in people with functional constipation. It also significantly reduces the need for laxatives and thereby reduces the risks associated with long-term laxative use.”

Best of the British High Street delivered to the doorstep

Miracle Tree, the award-winning herbal tea blend producer (Healthy Food & Drink Awards 2015) whose aim is for Moringa to become a mainstay of everyone’s daily diet, is one of 100 launch retailers listed on SHOPS, a new online marketplace recently launched by mySupermarket, the shopping and comparison grocery website.

Now consumers can choose from a selection of Miracle Tree’s Caffeine Free Moringa Wellness Tea range, all containing over 90 nutrients, with a simple click of a button, including the award-winning Mango Flavour which can be delivered straight to your door.

To mark the launch, new research carried out by SHOPS reveals that although nearly three quarters of shoppers (74%) buy from independent retailers weekly, almost a third (30%) are deterred from shopping at local, independent boutiques due to a lack of online availability.

Gilad Simhony, CEO, mySupermarket comments: “Shoppers are constantly seeking new, convenient options when it comes to buying their groceries, so SHOPS by mySupermarket is the perfect way of bringing the best of the British High Street, straight to consumers’ doorsteps. SHOPS has paved the way for a unique type of online shopping experience, making it easier than ever to access the quality and care of independent retailers, whilst providing much needed support for the great British High Street”.

“This is a fantastic platform and a great way for shoppers to find unique products from new companies and local high-street stores all in one easy to use place. MySupermarket is an extremely popular and well known platform with an incredible following and we are extremely excited to have the opportunity to partner with them on the launch of their new platform Shops.”

For further information visit:

Amaranth wins Best Independent Retailer

Many congratulations to NAHS member Amaranth in Stockport for winning the Best Independent Retailer award at the recent Natural Products exhibition.

Joanne Hill, owner of the store, said: “We knew who we were up against, and they are such fantastic stores, so we convinced ourselves over the course of the show that we couldn’t possibly have won. So when we heard our name called out, it was very exciting. We’re just so proud of our store and everyone who works here, and it’s nice to have our achievements recognised by our peers.”

Joanne tells us more about her store and its journey over the last year in her article here.

Fantastic growth in organics in indie sector

The Soil Association has published its Organic Market Report 2015, and it shows that growth in the sale of organic products in independent stores has outstripped that in supermarkets.

Sales outside of multiples grew by 8.7% to £558.6 million. 64% of the retailers sampled in the study reported growth, with 24% seeing no change, and only 12% reporting a decrease in sales. The report reveals that independent retailers now account for 30% of the organic market, with sales exceeding £10 million a week for the first time. The Soil Association is launching a campaign to help and support independent retailers in the sale and marketing of organic produce – you can get involved by visiting, and find out more about the campaign in our interview with the Soil Association’s Lee Holdstock, here.

Support for Independent Retail campaign wants local councils to sign up

Support for Independent Retail campaign is calling for local councils and business groups to back independent retailers.

Figures released in March by bira and LDC showed that worryingly, after five consecutive years of growth, the number of independent retailers opening up shop in the UK is slowing from 4% growth in 2010 to just 0.3% in 2014.

Councils and Local Authorities can buy into a licence for the campaign to receive a full package of support and resources to help them promote, encourage and boost local independent businesses. If you want to get involved, you can team up with other local independent retailers and petition your local authority to buy a licence – or you can even get a group together to crowdfund a licence without involving the council at all.

To find out more, you can download a copy of the Support for Independent Retail campaign licensing brochure at

BioCare Awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise

BioCare Ltd, along with its parent NutraHealth Plc, has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its outstanding achievement in the International Trade category.

James McEuen, Chief Executive, NutraHealth plc, (pictured) commented: “It is an honour and delight to win the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for outstanding achievement in International Trade for 2015. We have built a thriving Midlands-based healthcare business, employing over 400 people, proudly making and exporting the best of British.”

Window dressing!

Does your store have the best dressed windows? This summer it’s time to put your skills to the test. Organic pioneer Green People is launching a nationwide competition during June and July, challenging stores across the country to find the most novel and interesting ways to display its award-winning sun care range. There is a prize for the best window and in-store display, and one for the best gondola end.

The window display winner will receive £500 in vouchers and three goody bags worth £75 each, and the gondola end winner gets £200 in vouchers and goody bags worth £50.

There is a brand new sun stand, and to get this along with a PoS kit, speak to your Natural Trade Brokers representative or contact Green People directly by calling 01403 740350 or emailing [email protected]

HayMax celebrate ten years of trading

HayMax has launched a new giant box this year to mark its 10th anniversary. The box was designed by 11-year-old school girl, Skye, in a competition run by HayMax at the Allergy Show.

Marketing Manager Jasmine Wythe explains: “The idea was for the winner to see their design turned into a giant window display box for this year. Engagement was fantastic, so we will be rolling the idea out this year, making it available to all health stores.”

The giant boxes are just one of a series of promotional items, including posters, leaflets, shelf wobblers and barkers, and shelf and counter display units.

For more information contact HayMax on 01525 406600, [email protected] and

Export award for Natures Aid

Natures Aid won the International Achievement Award at the prestigious Red Rose Awards 2015, held at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.

Marketing Manager Chris Morrey said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have won our first award for export, it’s recognition for everyone’s hard work at Natures Aid. We started to export the Natures Aid brand just over 3 years ago and the product has been received fantastically well all over the world and we love flying the flag for British manufacturing.”

Pictured, left to right, are: Darren Partington (Export Co-ordinator), Jasmine Coleman (Business Development Manager), Tim Gaunt (Technical Sales Manager), David Sole (Operations Executive), Chris Morrey (Marketing Manager), Les Nutter (Award Judge), David Lord (Sales Director), Lynn Lord (Managing Director)

Demand for Vegan trademark hits unprecedented levels

The Vegan trademark, a sunflower symbol accompanied by the word ‘vegan’, is an internationally-recognised standard for products that are, among other requirements, free of all animal ingredients and animal tested ingredients and processes. It is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

“The level of demand for the Vegan Trademark has been quite simply unprecedented. Applications have roughly doubled over the last 12 months,’ said George Gill, The Vegan Society’s Business Development Manager. ‘There has been a shift in consumers really wanting to know what is in their products and where it has come from. They are increasingly seeking out compassionate choices, those which are environmentally friendly and better for their health.’

Advice and information on the Vegan trademark are available from

BigBarn launches mobile app

BigBarn's mission is to get people out of the supermarket and shopping locally.

The website provides a directory of local food suppliers, with the aim of diverting as much as possible of the £120billion spent with supermarkets, every year, to local communities with massive social benefits for all.

It does this by reconnecting consumers with their local producers/retailers of local food & drink and encourages trade and communication using its map, MarketPlace, partners, PR initiatives, social networking and SEO.

Now it has launched an app, to make it even easier for consumers to find local independent retailers. If you would like your store listed on the BigBarn website or app, visit

New look 9BAR provides ‘Good Energy Twice’

9BAR, the original mixed seed energy bar, has a new look and a powerful new aim to give ‘good energy twice’. That means providing good, natural super-seed energy to anyone who eats a 9BAR and also giving good, sustainable energy to families in Africa through teaming up with UK charity SolarAid.

The fresh face of 9BAR will be unveiled for the first time in mid-2015, rolling onto shelves from July.

The new-look bars with reduced sugar and reduced saturated fat include Original Lift, Carob Hit, Breakfast Boost and Cocoa Kick. Wholebake CEO Mark Gould commented: “Now, every 9BAR sold will provide natural, long-lasting energy for UK consumers and help provide safe, clean light in Africa. That’s our mission: Good Energy, Twice. Everyone can get involved, as we aim to make a real difference when we re-launch our much loved brand in 2015. We hope to show our retail customers exactly what we stand for as a brand as well as continuing to provide a high quality nutritious product that really does hit the spot.”

The brand has always supported good causes, and now it’s teamed up with UK charity SolarAid, which provides solar lights to those who need them most across Africa, with the eventual goal of eradicating dangerous, expensive and toxic kerosene lamps. The impact these solar lights have is astonishing: just one of them can save a family over £130, provide light for over 1,000 extra hours of study, and eliminate half a tonne of CO2 emissions and toxic fumes.

So every 9BAR sold will not only give long-lasting energy to consumers, it will also provide a night’s clean, sustainable energy for a child in Africa – “good energy, twice”.

Going vegan "gets sexy”

2015 is well and truly the year of the vegan. Europe's biggest vegan festival VegfestUK held at Brighton Centre announced a record attendance of 12,000 visitors on March 28th and 29th.

The organisers commented: “We're absolutely over the moon at the attendance figures of this year's Brighton event. It has always been our ultimate aim to convince the general public to go vegan through our events. In years gone by, our combination of food, comedy and music has worked a treat in making veganism more accessible to the public. Nowadays, however, going vegan has actually got really sexy, and we believe that there has never been a better time than right now to up our emphasis on vegan education and put out a consistent message to the public to go vegan.”

Amongst the new features at VegfestUK Brighton this year were a Global Food Sustainability Conference, at which a number of renowned speakers in the field addressed numerous tangible vegan solutions to the food sustainability problem. General Election year also called for a Party Political Conference at which the UK's major political parties presented their manifestos and engaged in debates on vegan issues. Along the sustainability thread was a Hemp Expo with industry leaders and notable hemp businesses presenting their expertise on hemp. Add these to the rich mélange of 15 specialist vegan caterers, nearly 200 stalls, dozens of talks and cookery demos, kids cookery classes, a cinema among many other activities, and visitors to the event have well and truly been armed with a wealth of knowledge on how to go and stay vegan.

More information about going vegan or convincing others to follow suit can be found at VegfestUK's three upcoming shows in 2015 – Bristol (May 23rd and 24th), London (October 10th and 11th) and Scotland (December 5th and 6th). Among the many highlights are brand-new vegan activists workshops and summits which provide tools and ideas for outreach. Dates for VegfestUK Brighton 2016 will be announced soon. Visit for details.

Our survey said...

We asked our readers to tell us about themselves and their businesses, as well as what they think of our magazine in our recent Reader Survey, and this is what you told us...

Of our 8,438 readers every quarter, 75% are managers, 25% owners ­ 88% of you told us that you read the magazine either every issue, or regularly. BRM is kept for reference purposes by 64% of readers, while 56% either recycle the magazine or pass it on to a colleague to read.

You also told us that 81% of you are on Facebook, while 31% use Twitter or other social media.

As far as purchasing decisions are concerned, customer demand is a key influence ­ cited by 87.5% of survey respondents ­ followed by sales reps (56.25%), Better Retailing itself (50%), and wholesaler (37.5%).

The features that interest our readers most are: sales and marketing pages 94%, business development pages 88%, enhance efficiency 75%, retailers news and product research 75%, what's hot in store 75%, increase gross margin pages 69%, online and technology pages 69%.

And the winner is...
A big thank you is due to all of our readers who took part in the survey, in which we offered, courtesy of Global by Nature, £250 worth of stock. The lucky winner is Andrew Lowe, director of Health Emporium in Hitchin, Herts, who scooped £250 worth of Sunwarrior products for his store.

Dandelion's owners Kate Sawyer and Claire Bateman

Dandelion closes its doors

Dandelion, a familiar fixture in south-west London's Northcote Road for more than two decades, is closing its doors for the final time at the end of this month.

Owners since 2008, Kate Sawyer and Claire Bateman (pictured), announced on their website that the closure would take place on 30th April, citing the sale of the premises and increasing rents in the area, which leaves them with no options for a new store location.

Kate reported that Dandelion's closure will be a great loss to the local community, "particularly for those who frequent the deli, which provides fresh health-food from our on-site kitchen daily. So many patrons have responded to the news that Dandelion is closing with exclamations of: "But what will I eat for lunch?!" and "How will I survive without the lasagne!?" that we feel it is only fair to the share the secrets of our food, just in case we don't find another venue to produce our food for some time."

Kate has worked in the kitchen at Dandelion since 2004, during which time she has created and developed all their recipes (now totalling more than 300) with a host of great chefs that have worked at Dandelion over the last decade. For the last few years she has been putting together the cookbook in the hope of publishing it. But it is no easy task to write up recipes that were designed to feed up to 40 people and adapt the quantities to suit preparation for four.

A kickstarter has been launched for The Dandelion Cookbook which, if successful, will enable Kate to adapt the recipes, complete the nutritional advice and stories attached to each recipe, produce some attractive pictures and publish the book in an attractive hard-copy format.

For more information, go to:

A photo of Ben Brown

Viridian announce seminar tour

Viridian Nutrition are embarking on a seminar tour this May, starting in London on 13 May, and moving on to Manchester on 19 May, Glasgow on 3 June and Dublin 24 June.

The seminars will be run by Ben Brown, technical director at Viridian (pictured right) and author of The Digestive Health Solution. The topic will be the importance of nutrition for mental health, and the seminars will explore the latest nutritional research for a healthy brain with cutting-edge practical solutions, and how you can use the power of nutrients and food-as-medicine to help your customers towards enhanced brain health.

Each attendee will receive food and refreshments, product samples, seminar notes, extensive background information and a valuable educational opportunity.

To reserve your place please email [email protected] or call on 01327 878050

A photo of Adrian Ling of Plamil

Plamil awarded the highest ethical rating again

A report published in Ethical Consumer magazine into UK chocolate brands has given Plamil the highest possible ethical rating, based on issues including the treatment of animals, the environment, the company’s attitude to people and sustainability.

“We have always been proud of our ethical stance at Plamil,” says Adrian Ling, MD of Plamil. “We understand our obligations to the environment, our customers and the people involved in the production of our products and the ingredients that go into them.

“Plamil Foods Ltd has worked for over fifty years to promote the welfare of humans, animals and the environment, striving to ensure a fair society with compassion for living creatures and a reduction of the environmental impact of our activities.”

Get set for VegFest Brighton!

VegfestUK Brighton takes place on 28-29 March at the Brighton Centre, and features a variety of activities with an eco-friendly theme, including a Party Political Conference on the Saturday, with major political parties giving their manifestos on green issues, a Global Food Sustainability Conference on the Sunday, a Hemp Expo, the UK’s first Vegan Comedy Festival, plus dozens of talks and cookery demos, a Cinema, a Kid’s Area and lots of live music. There will also be 150 stalls offering food, bodycare, gifts, clothes, accessories and campaigning groups information and merchandise.

Tickets to the event are available in advance at £5 per day and £8 for the whole weekend at with ‘Buy One Get One Half Price’ offers running until 21 March. Visit for details of VegfestUK's other two shows in Bristol (23- 24 May) and London (10-11 October).

A photo of some vegetables

The 2015 FreeFrom Food Awards shortlist is out!

The shortlist for the 2015 FreeFrom Food Awards is now out! From grain-free granolas to mail-order wheatgrass shots, ‘freefrom’ manufacturers have been strutting their stuff at the judging sessions for this year’s awards with an array of gluten-, wheat-, dairy-, soya-, nut-, egg and corn-free as well as no-added-sugar offerings.

After two weeks of heavy-duty tasting, the FreeFrom Food Awards judges have chosen nearly 270 products to shortlist. “With entries up by nearly 30% this year our 65 judges really had their work cut out,” says Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, director of the FreeFrom Awards. “But, with their usual expertise they managed to tease out the really exciting products that are currently pushing the boundaries of what you can successfully make ‘freefrom’.”

The winners of the awards will be announced on 22 April at the Royal College of Physicians in London. Attendance at the event is by invitation only. To see the full shortlist, visit

A photo of Natural and Organic Products Europe

Essential diary date

Natural & Organic Products Europe is a once-a-year chance for the movers and shakers in the natural products industry to get together, demonstrate their new products and ideas, and exchange news and opinions about the latest industry trends. For retailers and business owners, it’s an opportunity to communicate with peers, meet suppliers, and see, feel and taste the latest new products for themselves.

This year, the natural products industry’s annual exhibition is taking place at the new venue of ExCeL London on 19-20 April, and will feature an unprecedented 600 exhibitors showcasing thousands of natural and organic brands – including supplements, botanicals, superfoods, THR mark herbal medicines, homeopathic remedies, personal care and beauty, eco-household, and food and drink.

Find out more here...

A photo of Protexin staff

Protexin probiotics significantly reduce childhood constipation

A newly published trial has revealed that the seven-strain probiotic mixture in Bio-Kult Infantis could significantly reduce symptoms of chronic functional constipation, without any reported side effects. The study was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled prospective parallel arm study in 56 children aged between four and 12 years diagnosed with chronic constipation.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive lactulose + probiotic or lactulose + placebo for four weeks. The study assessed changes in stool frequency, consistency, abdominal pain and adverse events. After one week improvements were seen in both consistency and frequency of stool in both groups. However the improvement was statistically greater in the probiotic group and this was maintained through to four weeks of treatment for both frequency and consistency of stool. Improvements were also seen in abdominal pain and faecal incontinence. This study provides evidence that the seven strain probiotic mixture used can help to improve stool frequency, stool consistency, abdominal pain and faecal incontinence in children with chronic constipation.

New ad campaign for Essential

The Essential brand has unveiled its new ‘Pure as Heaven’ communications campaign for 2015. “We are passionate about nutrition, flavour, naturalness, whether an ingredient is ethically sourced and sustainably produced,” says Eli Sarre, marketing manager at Essential. “This ethos is reflected in our new message. The emphasis at Essential is on pure, healthy food and ethically assured fairly-traded products you can trust. Our priority is authentic, top quality ingredients, packed with goodness and bursting with flavour.”

Essential Trading wholesales, manufactures and distributes organic wholefood across the UK and beyond. The business specialises in ethically produced, vegetarian, organic and Fairtrade food sourced from all corners of the globe. From the pickers to the packers, the chain of supply is carefully scrutinised. Essential prides itself on successfully bringing ethical alternatives and Fairtrade products to the marketplace and has gained full organic and Fairtrade accreditation to pack commodities in their purpose-built facility in Bristol.

A photo of some bilberries

Bilberries can help tackle the effects of a high-fat diet

Eating bilberries diminishes the adverse effects of a high-fat diet, according to a recent study at the University of Eastern Finland, published in PLOS ONE.

Bilberries were shown to have beneficial effects on both blood pressure and nutrition-derived inflammatory responses. The study focused on the health effects of bilberries on mice that were fed a high-fat diet for a period of three months.

Some of the mice were fed either 5% or 10% of freeze-dried bilberries in the diet. The researchers assessed the effects of the diets by looking at inflammatory cell and cytokine levels, systolic blood pressure, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and weight gain.

Mice on the high-fat diet experienced significant weight gain and detrimental changes in glucose and lipid metabolism, inflammation factors and blood pressure. Bilberries diminished the pro-inflammatory effects of the high-fat diet, and also prevented elevated blood pressure. The beneficial health effects of bilberries are thought to be explained by polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, the levels of which are significantly higher in bilberries than in commercially cultivated blueberries.

A woman holding her stomach

Help your customers beat the bloat this Easter

During the Easter holidays we are inclined to eat more sugary, fatty and rich foods – with research suggesting that the average adult ploughs their way through 6,000 calories on Easter Sunday alone. It therefore comes as no surprise that many people suffer from digestive issues - such as indigestion, bloating and wind- at this time of year.

Don’t miss the opportunity to increase sales from probiotics

Read on...

The Your Healthy Living Awards logo

Your customers have their say

The Your Healthy Living 2014 awards are the ideal barometer of what’s selling in-store. We name the winners in this leading consumer awards programme...

Our sister publication Your Healthy Living, the leading consumer natural health magazine available free to your customers each month, has been counting the votes for its 2014 Awards.

The massive response shows which products have won the hearts of consumers over the past year and we’re delighted to help pin the winners’ rosettes to some deserving lapels!

Voted for by YHL readers in their thousands, these are the products that adorn your shelves and have been highlighted in the magazine during the year. YHL readers pick up their free copy to read about the products you sell, and they’re no slouches when it comes to having their say.

Read about the winners in this leading consumer awards programme

A woman holding an apple

Natural equals healthy, says UK public

'Natural' is most closely associated in the public mind with health, according to recent research.

Against a background of more people overeating and being classed as obese, food and drink research specialists MMR Research Worldwide engaged 3,100 consumers to determine their attitudes and behaviour toward food categories.

The research revealed that ‘natural’ was most closely associated of all the categories with a strong health profile. In addition, the five categories perceived as most natural were also considered the healthiest; bread, baked beans, fruit juice and smoothies, breakfast cereal and yogurt.

The survey results showed that consumers are more convinced by the health credentials of products when the health property (such as natural, protein, fibre) is intrinsic to that product. So healthy was not associated with the reduction or removal of a property from food i.e. reduced salt, low fat.

Andy Wardlaw, MMR Research's insight director said: “The reduced calorie message is often overused. Consumers mostly define natural by what isn’t in the product, ‘no additives’, ‘no colours’, ‘no preservatives’, ‘no e-numbers’, ‘no chemicals’ and ‘no artificial flavours’. Categories that are perceived as more natural or naturally higher in protein or fibre are also perceived to be more healthy.”

The research team divided the sample into five attitudes and behaviour groups. They were: healthy (22%), believes in simple health messages, natural food and exercise; on a mission (22%), driven to improve health, sceptical of health messaging and least likely to drink, smoke and eat out; hedonist (6%),: smokes, drinks and eats out, no interest in GDAs, ingredients and health; armchairworrier (18%), propensity to worry about health issues, but unlikely to exercise and have only lukewarm commitment to diet related health efforts and apathetic (12%), no interest in health or health messaging.

From these five groups, it can be deemed that 62% of the population are health aware; only two segments (44%) are health aware and motivated to eat healthily.

“Our attitudes toward healthy eating are not based on ignorance, it’s all down to motivation. Over half of the population is suffering from health message fatigue. They are fed up of hearing that one week red wine is good for you and the next week not. We have hours of interviews reflecting a mix of laziness, lack of willpower and people just making the decision to go about their diet in their own way,” said Wardlaw.

Hi Europe reflects growth in health and wellness products

Amsterdam became the hotspot of the global health and natural ingredients industry, when visitors converged on Hi Europe (2-4 December), showcasing the latest trends and innovations from the food and beverage industry. Exhibitors from all over the world presented their latest innovations and product lines, giving visitors the opportunity to gain invaluable industry knowledge across a wide range of conference modules, exhibitor product showcase, seminars on product innovation and industry insight sessions, and a host of other features and educational opportunities. For all industry experts, Hi Europe has proved to be the most important platform to meet the right suppliers of health and natural ingredients, network with senior decision makers, and keep up to date with the latest market developments and trends.

According to a current study by Euromonitor International, the worldwide market for health ingredients has grown by 6.75% between 2013 and 2014. This shows that products with health and wellness benefits are in higher demand than traditional food products. Until now, healthy and natural alternatives accounted for about 21% of all packaged foods; however, it is predicted that this number will grow by 31% between 2014 and 2019. For example, healthy beverages are actually slowly overtaking from energy drinks on the worldwide market, as consumers are opting for more healthy options, for example health and natural tea varieties. The market of healthy beverages is expected to grow by US$14.5 billion from 2014 to 2019, which is US$2 billion more than the current market value of Energy Drinks.

Euromonitor have also noted another major trend in the beverage industry - milk-based formula drinks. This is a category said to increase by US$4.3 billion in 2014. Another booming section is allergen-free products. On top of the list is gluten-free baked goods, which are expected to grow by 16% by the end of 2014 and are ranked third in healthy foods that are showing continuous growth. Ewa Hudson, Global Head of Health and Wellness Research at Euromonitor International, states: "It is particularly interesting to observe the emerging markets. Between 2009 and 2014 they contributed 87% to the growth of the health and wellness industry in the world, and were also responsible for 60% of the sales of these products".

Secrets revealed – HFI embraces our top shop search!

The Health Food Institute’s annual awards lunch this Spring will include an additional award when the winner of Better Retailing’s popular Secret Shopper feature is announced.

We’ve been visiting natural health stores across the UK and Ireland with reports in the magazine and online every month throughout the year.

Now the HFI has recognised the success of this programme and will accolade the winning store’s owner at the annual awards lunch on February 19.

“We acknowledge the value of highlighting a shop which is really offering its customers the highest possible standard in health food retailing,” said HFI director Ray Hill.

Twelve health stores from Scotland to Ireland to the south of England have been visited by our Secret Shopper during 2014, each marked for location, layout and personal service.

Last year’s winner was Mishal Qadri’s Health Zone in Wimbledon.

IAHS members lobbying the Finance Minister's private secretary

Kevin and Finn at Ireland's corridors of power

Two of Ireland's top retailers played their part in the Irish Association of Health Stores' fight to keep vital natural health products free of VAT charges.

IAHS chair, Kevin Connolly (left) of The Healthy Living Centre, Athy, and board member Finn Murray (right) of Dublin's The Hopsack, are pictured after lobbying the Finance Minister's private secretary.

The industry is still in the dark on the subject of non-food VAT but the hope is that herbal teas will be exempted.

Al Overton of Planet Organic

Claims snitches on the prowl

We’re big fans of the Ask For Evidence campaign as it helps consumers see the true benefits of natural products.

And as Planet Organic discovered, it also helps to keep product literature up to date.

Ask For Evidence has been proudly telling everyone how a consumer took Planet to task about a claim that wheatgrass could remove toxins from the blood stream and as a result "the claim was removed from all the companies [sic] promotional material".

What they should have said was that one long-forgotten leaflet was removed from the back of a display holder and consigned to the bin.

Planet’s senior buyer Al Overton (pictured) explained: “Some time ago we had a section of customer information leaflets about gluten free foods, biodynamic wine, wheat grass juice etc. Some of these were quite historical and went back to the early days of Planet Organic, and had not been reviewed for quite some time.

“We were contacted by a customer requesting references to back up the claim that is mentioned, at which point obviously we realised that this claim was no longer allowable under newer health claims legislation, and while it may be an accepted concept within naturopathic circles it was not easily justifiable from a purely scientific point of view. We rewrote the leaflet and replied as such to the customer.”

Could be a good time to check any health claims in your promotional material because teacher’s pet is sure to come calling!

Members of Whole Food Action demonstrating

Sowing the seeds of action

Members of Whole Food Action, the growing network of like-minded health stores, are pictured at the House of Commons during Great Seed Festival in London.

Representatives from stores including Food For All (London), Eighth Day (Manchester) and Sound Bites (Derby) displayed the GMO OMG banner and are now looking for more regional partners in the UK.

The Group is asking members to help support action on palm oil including new labelling regulations. To join, look for Whole Food Action on Facebook.

Evergreen staff

Evergreen supports Breast Cancer Research

Ireland’s progressive Evergreen group of stores hosted a Natural Beauty & Skincare event as part of its ‘Go Pink for Breast Cancer Research’ initiative.

Supporting the National Breast Cancer Research Institute (NBCRI) during October’s breast cancer awareness month, the event showcased some of the world’s leading natural skincare and make-up brands including Trilogy, Seavite, Weleda, Burt’s Bees, Nia, Viridian and Udo's Choice.

Guests paying €25 received the ultimate Evergreen goody bag of natural skincare and beauty products worth more than €120.

ASA ruling spurs BetterYou

BetterYou’s transdermal magnesium products have received an inspirational boost from an unlikely corner.

An Advertising Standards Authority ruling that there was insufficient evidence behind the delivery system has spurred on founder Andy Thomas who is expecting fresh evidence from a hospital study.

The ASA ruling said there was not enough clinical evidence to support the claim that magnesium ions can be absorbed through the skin, despite an in vitro trial by Dr Heard and his team at Cardiff University and nine case studies provided by Watkins and Josling.

“The ruling required a trial or proof of concept undertaken within a medical or clinical environment and as the Northwick Park Hospital study has not yet commenced it is deemed that there is insufficient evidence to support the claim based upon ASA criteria,” said Thomas.

The Northwick Park Hospital trial has received ethics approval and is currently recruiting from its pool of gastrointestinal patients. The study, requested by Dr Nightingale and his team at the hospital, aims to test the effects of transdermal magnesium supplementation on patients with short bowel and stomas, all of whom require magnesium supplementation via IV or sub-cutaneous injections.

“This is an incredibly exciting study for all concerned and we are confident that the ruling will be reviewed and reversed once the new evidence has been submitted,” added Thomas. “Unfortunately this is simply the problem inherent in being at the forefront of innovation. No one else is working within this area so evidential support can only come at the pace we are able to provide it.”

Vitamin D and prostate cancer

Following the sudden death of her father Alvin Stardust, a Movember site was set up by Holistic Directory Founder Sophie Jewry in his memory.

Stardust passed away after suffering from prostrate cancer. Sophie’s passion for complementary therapy has been motivated further since his death. She highlights a vitamin D study showing that men with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood were half as likely to develop aggressive forms of prostate cancer as those with lower amounts.

Toiletries must rise to the organic challenge

With mainstream cosmetics and toiletries companies trying to hijack the organic sector with isolated “hero” products, a new report reveals that 90% of consumers have concerns about synthetic chemicals in their purchases.

According to the report by Organic Monitor ( almost two thirds of buyers stated parabens were the specific chemicals they want to avoid.

Compared to the previous study in 2007, awareness of synthetic chemicals has increased significantly – 19% of buyers wished to avoid phthalates and lanolin, compared to just three per cent in 2007.

All consumers surveyed said they are willing to pay extra for certified products with 72% stating they would pay up to 20% more for them. Just 12% of buyers would be willing to pay a premium above 30%.

New research commissioned by NATRUE, ‘Exploring the Territory of Natural and Organic Cosmetics’, highlights what consumers expect, what drives their purchasing decisions and what they understand about the products. The research was presented at the European Parliament in Brussels in November. 

‘True Organics’ – page 22.

Two generations - Hannah Marriage with father George

Celebrating a long Marriage

Essex-based W & H Marriage & Sons Ltd is celebrating 190 years as a family-run flour milling company.

Marriage’s has rebranded and extended its award-winning home baking flour range now rolling out to health food wholesalers nationwide.

Hannah Marriage, director and sixth generation family member (pictured with her father George), says: “Marriage & Sons was founded in 1824 by my great, great, great grandfather William Marriage and his twin brother Henry.

“Almost two centuries on, we’re excited to unveil our new packaging which we feel conveys Marriage’s premium positioning and long milling heritage, and has real shelf appeal.”


In your own time

The team at Bare Health, Congleton, are full of praise for Solgar’s new e-Learning programme.

“Regular training keeps us all up to date with latest developments and is a great way to expand education and product knowledge,” says Mel Ball, who runs Bare Health with her mother, Sue.

“It also instils greater confidence when selling and with that comes increased sales. The only commitment is dedicating a little time. [Solgar e-Learning] is easy to use and is a free service that we can all use to our advantage on a number of levels.”

What’s your training experience? Contact the editor [email protected]

Winter wellness not to be sneezed at

Leading probiotics brand Bio-Kult is raising awareness of how friendly bacteria can help boost the immune system in winter months.

A ‘Winter Wellness’ campaign is in full swing with educational marketing material including posters and leaflets.

What’s more, a team of qualified nutritional therapists is available for specific staff training and themed in-store events to educate customers.

Beneficial bacteria play an essential role by supporting efficient digestive function and immunity.

“Up to 70% of our immune cells are located in the gut,” says Bio-Kult nutritional therapist Natalie Lamb. “Our good gut bacteria could be compromised if busy fighting bugs, by antibiotic therapy, travel, stress, excess alcohol or a period of inadequate nutrition, which is quite common during the winter party season.” 

The campaign runs until February 2015. To call in the cavalry contact your Bio-Kult territory manager or email [email protected]

Retailers meet Suppliers at Tree Time 2014

Tree Time 2014

Tree Time, the premier annual trade "customer meets supplier" event north of London took place on September 21 at wholesaler distributor Tree of Life's Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire head office.

Well-known industry brands including Ecozone, Rabenhorst, Kallo Foods, Lucy Bee, Clipper, Biona, Meridian, Clearspring, Granovita, Weleda, Vitabiotics, Comvita, Yogi Tea and Linwoods were present and in addition to the chance to network with other retailers and meet the people behind the brands, there were more than 1,500 show-only deals available, courtesy of the suppliers.

The New Product Showcase was a chance for retailers to vote for their favourite new product launched between August and October 2014 from any of the exhibiting brands. Faith in Nature's Gift Packs scooped the award, with Fleur Richardson of Natural Foods, Llanidloes, Powys, winning the entire showcase contents.

Winners of the Anagram Game were Mandi and Peter Thomas from Living Well in Milnthorpe, Cumbria, who won a Kindle Fire. All retailers were entered into a draw for the chance to do a trolley dash in the warehouse – lucky winner was Naomi Ocean from Prince and Pugh, Powys, who won stock at £427.14 retail value.

A photo showing Symprove's new packaging

The probiotic that arrives, survives and thrives

Two separate scientific trials on probiotics have given a boost to Symprove in results released this week.

UCL School of Pharmacy's Dr Simon Gainsford conducted a test to find out three things: did the probiotics tested arrive in the gut in the numbers promised on the label; did they survive in the stomach; and did they thrive in the gut. Symprove passed all three tests with flying colours.

In a separate study, Dr Guy Sissons at King's College carried out a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial featuring 186 IBS sufferers. Once again, Symprove was shown to give proven effects on pain, bloating and general IBS symptoms.

Symprove has been rebranded, with new packaging and a loyalty scheme offering free four packs when customers purchase eight packs, making the 12-week course more affordable and encouraging customers to complete the course.

For more information, visit

A photo of Sarah Gass and the juice named after her

Juice competition is a gas for Sarah!

There's PR potential in juicing - Bridges café in Cambridge ran a local competition as part of Independent Retailer Month and scooped great media coverage when local radio broadcasters entered into the spirit with a judging bash.

Pictured (right) is the winner, Sarah Gass, who named her pineapple, spinach, apple and banana juice "Alien Wonders" and won lunch on Bridges with the juice named after her.

VegFest London

Vegans and vegetarians are heading to London Olympia on September 27 and 28 for VegFest, which features cookery demonstrations, talks on nutrition and lifestyle, and celebrity guests. More than 200 stalls will provide the goodies.

A photo of some coconuts

WebMD goes coconuts

The world’s most visited health website, WebMD, has opened the door to the benefits of coconut oil. The pro-pharma site has listed coconut oil in its VMS section but warns that it may increase cholesterol levels while admitting the evidence shows the opposite.

And UK supplier Tiana hopes the medical profession will now take note especially as anecdotal evidence and new trials for its effect on Alzheimer’s are gathering pace.

“Consumers are looking for coconut oil to help improve memory, often relating to the effects of Alzheimer’s,” said Tiana director Tanya Harris. “There is no treatment that will stop Alzheimer’s but studies have shown that medium chain fatty acids found in raw virgin coconut oil can be used to help with the symptoms of such health issues.”

Meanwhile, Tiana has acquired a second production unit at its London facility as part of an investment programme to increase production as well as sales, marketing and a number of new appointments.

Tiana has also won Great Taste awards for its Organic Exquisite Omega 3 Spreadable and Raw Organic Coconut Goodness, judged by food critics, chefs and food industry specialists.

Hair today

Pharma Medico, supplier of the Nourkrin range of natural hair and scalp supplements, has moved to a larger warehouse and plans for five new additions to the range.

A photo of some members of Whole Food Action

Swinging into Action!

Pictured after planning their Autumn campaign are 17 staff from seven health and wholefood shops around the country who are now part of Whole Food Action. WFA was founded by Sound Bites in Derby and Unicorn, Manchester, to promote a fairer, more sustainable food system and support each other with retail issues.

Back row L-R: Sebastian, Food For All, London; Stuart, Wild Thyme, Portsmouth; Graham, Sound Bites; Craig, Lembas, Sheffield; Federico, Food For All, London. Middle L-R: Helga, True Food, Reading; Helen, True Food; Ruth, Kirby and Ali, Sound Bites; Jen and Helen, Eighth Day, Manchester; Cat, Unicorn, Manchester. Front L-R: Vanessa, Sound Bites; Dorrie, Eighth Day; Paola, Food For All. The picture was taken by Debbie from Unicorn.

To join, search Whole Food Action on Facebook.

Weleda hat-trick

Weleda won three awards in the Green Parent Natural Beauty Guide 2014, published in Green Parent magazine. Oat Replenishing Treatment won gold in the Hair Treat category, Baby Calendula Shampoo & Body Wash scooped bronze in the Children’s Shampoo category, and Calendula Toothpaste also won bronze in the Toothpaste category.

A photo of the interior of Planet Organic

New skincare range lands at Planet Organic

Planet Organic’s six London stores were doing what they do best this summer with the launch of a new skincare range from The Natural Skincare Company. The Moana range went down a storm with demonstrations and training for the public as well as the staff.

Scarlett Knight, Health & Bodycare Buyer at Planet Organic, said: “It’s been fantastic to have skincare experts from The Natural Skincare Co to talk to our customers and give the Moana range such a great start in our stores.

“Regulars and new customers alike just love the personal touch and actual demonstrations of good quality products.” Moana is the first organic line to offer high concentration marine glycans from natural sources.

New allergens labelling

Health stores that provide loose (nonprepacked) foods must now declare the inclusion of any one of the 14 allergens to customers. This can be done in a variety of ways such as on menus and chalkboards, clear signposting to where the information can be obtained or through oral communication. FSA guidance notes via

A photo of a baby with colic

Colic – gut feelings confirmed

A seven-strain probiotic and prebiotic mixture could significantly improve symptoms in infants suffering from colic without any reported side effects, according to new research.

The study, published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, involved infants aged two weeks to four months who had been diagnosed with colic. The infants were randomly assigned to receive a placebo or the probiotic for 30 days.

Infants who took the probiotic – the same as found in new Bio-Kult Infantis – saw a significant improvement in symptoms for more than 80% and in some cases (40%) these were completely resolved.

Magnesium’s role in migraine highlighted

Magnesium was being promoted as part of the solution for beating migraines during Migraine Action’s national awareness week in September.

Health pioneer BetterYou was working with the charity to show how the mineral could help reduce symptoms for thousands of migraine sufferers.

A poll carried out by the two migraine sufferers who regularly use magnesium, two-thirds say it has eased their symptoms slightly or significantly, or even eliminated their migraines altogether.

An estimated eight million Brits suffer from debilitating migraines with employers and schools losing more than 25 million days in sickness absence each year.

Studies consistently indicate that magnesium is deficient in people with migraine and other types of headache, and that treating the deficiency alleviates the headache. A study by Dr Alexander Mauskop, director of the New York Headache Center, found that in a group of 3,000 patients given 200mg of magnesium daily, 80% had a reduction in their migraine symptoms.

A photo at the 2013 Tree Time

Tree Time 2014

Tree of Life has been running its successful ‘Tree Time’ Customer- Meets-Supplier day since 2008 and it has developed into the industry's must-attend event, becoming the channel’s largest trade show north of London.

This year’s Tree Time show takes place on Sunday September 21 at Tree of Life’s Head Office in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

The show is the perfect opportunity for retailers to network with each other and meet the suppliers of the biggest and best brands. Everyone is made welcome at Tree Time, retailers can even bring along the family for a busy, fun-packed day filled with sampling, the year’s best deals, prizes, giveaways, free lunch and even entertainment for the kids!

Find out more here

A photo of Essential Trading's new branding

Essential Trading Open Day Sunday 14 September 2014

This year's Essential Trading Open Day will take place on Sunday 14 September from 11am-5pm, as part of their Organic September celebrations.

This will include the unveiling of their exciting and colourful product re-branding, reflecting the company's passionate attitude and ‘consciously different’ ethos.  They will also be showcasing some festive fare and colourful new Christmas gifts.

To celebrate Organic September, there will be some exclusive discounts and offers as well as the chance to sample some exciting new products, enjoy some Fairtrade favourites, and meet the people behind the brands.

Plus of course you can expect:

  • Inspiring guest speakers giving informative talks on the latest hot topics
  • An easy, relaxed Sunday atmosphere (family members are very welcome)
  • A fabulous spread of delicious organic and vegetarian food
  • Entertainment for young and old, including a children’s area.

In true celebratory style, you will leave with a party bag of goodies to take home and enjoy.

To find out more, including event registration and directions, please see the Essential Trading website here.

A photo of a bitter orange and a tomato

The fruits of new research

A bitter orange from Italy and a tomato extract hold crucial secrets that could help keep heart disease at bay.

A Cambridge University trial studying the results of a lycopene supplement in 72 adults revealed clear improvements in the functioning of blood vessels.

The antioxidant trial was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the British Heart Foundation and the National Institute of Health Research.

“This is conclusive evidence that tomato lycopene can help reduce the risk of heart disease, even in people who already have heart-related issues and are on medication,” said Dimitrina Tsareva of Vita Healthcare, which produces the lycopene supplement Lyc-O-Mato.

Meanwhile, further new research reveals that a Bergamot orange extract could reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes by lowering levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol while raising those of ‘good’ cholesterol.

Find out more here

WFM price matching woes?

A report in The Grocer reveals that Whole Foods Market has launched a price-match scheme, benchmarking its prices against Waitrose.

The move has a hint of desperation following expansion in Cheltenham, London and Glasgow and failure in Bristol.

Mike Abrahams, whose store Wild Oats in Bristol thrived while WFM struggled, had encouraging words for smaller retailers facing price-match competition.

“Matching Waitrose isn't a massive problem as they do tend to command premium prices,” he said. “Our policy is to hold our premium position (in the face of competition), while carefully staging regular KVIs and monthly promotions.

“I feel that to descend to a cut-price market place would just increase the competition and reduce our income, whereas, although limited, the premium market is more selective and, apparently, buoyant.”

D is for diabetes

Half of all diabetes sufferers could boost energy levels and lessen fatigue within a month of taking a daily vitamin D supplement.

A pilot study by vitamin supplier BetterYou found three-quarters of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes sufferers noticed an improvement in their symptoms after taking a vitamin D oral spray.

Just over half of sufferers reported an increase in energy levels, with 48% reporting lower fatigue, better moods (43%) and reduced joint pain (29%).

Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency and diabetes are linked.

A photo of crowds at Natural Products Europe 2013

A bumper send-off for Olympia 2014

To say Natural & Organics Europe has had a good run at Olympia is a mighty understatement. The show’s ever growing visitor base increased to 8,810 in 2013. For this current show, organisers Diversified Business Communications have expanded exhibition space by 11% to fill the entire Grand Hall.

So what is there this year to tempt the independent retailer that could make their visiting costs worth their weight in gold?

Find out more here

A photo of olives and olive leaves

Olive leaf and diabetes

A clinical trial has shown that fresh olive leaf extract, a natural remedy available to buy on the high street, could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 15%.

Conducted by The University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute, the study demonstrated that fresh olive leaf extract helped control high blood sugar levels in overweight men at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The high levels of polyphenols present in olive leaves, which are preserved when the fresh leaves are pressed, supported a 15% improvement in insulin sensitivity, which is comparable to the prescription diabetes treatment drug, metformin. In addition, the fresh olive leaf also improved insulin secretion, which metformin doesn’t do.

Improved insulin sensitivity and secretion is important in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes, because of the hormone’s significant role in helping to regulate blood sugar levels. Results were seen after only 12 weeks and participants reported no adverse side effects.

The fresh olive leaf used in the study was supplied by Comvita.

A photo of Professor Bjarnason

A good year for gut health

The same King’s College Hospital research team that ran the highly successful IBS trial is now at midpoint in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial to show the effect of a probiotic on a similar disease, Diverticulitis.

Led by Professor Ingvar Bjarnason (pictured) and using the probiotic culture Symprove, expectations are that the results will be as positive as the IBS trial announced in 2012. The Diverticular Disease trial results are due at the end of the year.

Prof. Bjarnason told Better Retailing that his team has almost completed a trial in Ulcerative colitis involving 74 patients with results due in early summer.

Pycnogenol and period pain

A study published in the International Journal of Women’s Health found that Pycnogenol significantly minimises pain and inflammation associated with endometriosis and may help eliminate painful periods when paired with oral contraceptives.

Researchers treated and monitored 45 patients of reproductive age, randomly selected to one of four treatment groups and evaluated over three months.

Two different types of oral contraceptives were evaluated on their own and in combination with Pycnogenol, which significantly increased the efficacy of oral contraceptives for the treatment of endometriosis-related pain.

Cranberry and UTIs

New research published in the American Journal of Geriatrics shows that over 25% of bladder infections (cystitis) can be reduced with the regular use of cranberry concentrate supplements in vulnerable older people at high risk of urinary tract infections.

The Public Health and Primary Care (PHEG) department of the Leiden University Medical Centre conducted the one-year study in 21 Dutch nursing homes in co-operation with Springfield Nutraceuticals, which supplied Cranaxil cranberry concentrate 500mg. Over 20% of these high-risk elderly did not develop any UTIs at all when taking the cranberry capsule.

Read more news in the latest issue of Better Retailing