The Health Food Manufacturers Association (HFMA) has told the UK’s Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill, that it is “essential that health food stores can remain open” throughout any period of emergency measures imposed during the COVID-19 crisis.
In the letter, HFMA executive director, Graham Keen stresses the importance that health food stores are treated “like other essential retail services”. The same should apply to the manufacturers and wholesalers who supply them, he argues.
He writes: “The HFMA is a trade association that represents around 125 business that manufacture and supply natural health products across the UK. Our members – including major retailers like Holland & Barrett, as well as many firms who supply via smaller health stores – play a crucial role in helping to improve public health, with 69% of the adult population, over 40 million consumers, now taking food supplements, over half of them on a weekly basis. That is an average of over 60,000 people in every UK constituency taking supplements.”
Commenting on reports from members that health stores are currently inundated with customers stocking up on health foods, Keen adds: “It is therefore essential that health food stores can remain open in order to continue to serve the needs of consumers who rely on food supplements and specialist nutritional formulae, along with particular remedies for their negative health issues, those people with special dietary needs, and also those consumers who rely on officially recommended food supplements like vitamins AC&D for children, and folic acid in pregnancy.”
The letter conveys the HFMA’s “strong belief” that the exemption to closure supermarkets and pharmacies should also be extended to health food stores.