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Opportunities and special interests

Esther Mills-Roberts
Director of Communications, Health Food Manufacturers' Association

The HFMA has long been known as the authoritative Voice of UK Natural Health, providing trusted, reliable and accurate information to many companies within our industry, and making sure that the interests of our members are represented in a strategic and timely manner.

Throughout our almost 60-year history, the HFMA has seen many changes and we find ourselves, again, at a time of transition under the leadership of our new Director General, Martin Last.

With change comes opportunity – a time to consider ways in which the Association can adapt and improve in order to thoroughly prepare for the years ahead.

Part of this is to make sure that the door is always open for strategic discussion about emerging issues – not just with individual companies, but together – which is one area where membership of the HFMA is so valuable. Shared insights give an industry-reflective view, leading to identification of commonalities and areas that need more clarification.

This is the essence of the HFMA Special Interest Groups, which provide a mechanism for members to meet collectively to discuss key industry areas, pulling together practical guidance and setting benchmark industry standards. These Special Interest Groups facilitate open dialogue looking at how products or concepts enter the market, and thinking forward to how that can be positively influenced for the benefit of all. The aim is to make sure that we set a precedence on quality, production, messaging that is clear, concise and cohesive, and that the regulatory framework is understood and appropriately applied.

After 5+ years of quick growth, notably throughout the pandemic, the collagen market in the UK is sophisticated with its many different forms, marketing approaches, manufacturing methods and collagen alternatives/amino acid blends. It's easy to see why, at first glance, the mission to create a comprehensive document full of practical help and information appeared somewhat daunting.

Over the past 12 months, we have assessed the science, manufacturing practices, quality standards and testing methods for collagen products on the UK market today. As can be expected in a document from the HFMA, particular emphasis is given to the current position on technical and regulatory requirements for collagen. It has been a pleasure to work with great industry minds from member companies, and we are pleased to say that this is all captured in the recently released HFMA Report on Collagen 2023.

In October, the HFMA is launching a new Special Interest Group on Sustainability. As Martin puts it: "Members recently came to us with the proposal that the HFMA set up a Special Interest Group on sustainability, with a view to setting benchmark standards and guidelines for our industry to follow."

And so Members, HFMA staff and experts are coming together to further understand the whole area of sustainability, and areas that need explanation, clarification and regulatory insights. We will do what we do best – bringing people together, because together we are louder.

For more information about the work of the HFMA and membership: [email protected]

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