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Working together for positive change

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

It's good to look back at 2023 and reflect on how things have moved on and how we've positively served our HFMA members as we head into 2024.

As ever, we champion the cause of everyone that we represent – not just HFMA members, but the good of the natural products industry as a whole.

One reason that members cite, when explaining who the HFMA are to them, is a solid, pragmatic and robust voice. Another phrase often used is that we are “an extension to member businesses”, providing access to extensive information and expert opinion.

With our in-house team, and our expert advisers – Professor Paul Berryman (technical) and Dr Michele Sadler (scientific) – we are able to solidify robust responses to industry challenges. The aim is always to make sure that our industry remains in the best place possible, knowing that the companies we represent are committed to upholding high standards around consumer safety, labelling and marketing of products.

We are committed to keeping natural health products in a position of strength and longevity within a market that is growing, developing and maturing. It is for this reason that we strongly advocate for our member's interests and leveraging our place at the table of many influential stakeholder meetings.

We are as skilled in holding back as much as we are pushing forward. The HFMA does not rush to form an opinion or position until an extensive overview has taken place. We welcome member insights to help shape a well-considered approach. And, as the HFMA response to the change in FSA advice on CBD from 70mg down to 10mg daily demonstrated, we know the wisdom in waiting until multiple voices are heard.

For us, as a trade association, that means giving a platform to our members to express their concerns and to raise awareness about how key issues are directly affecting their business. Our multi-faceted membership, including raw material suppliers, retailers and manufacturers – both large and small – enables us to have a far-reaching understanding of impact, and what needs to be done to bring a common-sense and scientifically supported response to every industry issue we encounter.

So, what about 2024?

What can we do about lengthy nutrition and health claims when the consumer attention span is about three seconds? In an age of infographics and pictures, what's permitted within the regulations? When people-centric stories sell so well, how do we communicate important mandatory statements and more serious support information, which cuts across the friendly tone? What is important for us to understand about sustainability? What products are emerging as sectors in their own right (mushrooms, for example) and how can the HFMA encourage new companies to market responsibly and work with others to ensure that products stay on the market for the long-term, based on a responsible approach and understanding of the need for compliance?

We enter 2024 asking some very good questions. We'll answer them. And, most importantly, they'll be answered with the collective knowledge, wisdom and support that 140+ companies bring.

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

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