Considering the European Commission’s stated commitment to promoting growth, jobs and innovation, you might think that bringing new ingredients onto the EU market would be straightforward. Sadly this isn’t the case. In reality, the demanding scientific requirements and skeptical attitudes of national governments are combining to make it a difficult process.
Much attention is rightly focused on the Nutrition & Health Claims Regulation, and how tough this can make life for companies that want to market their nutrition ingredients and supplements in the EU. However, there is another factor that is less high profile but equally important – namely the lack of harmonisation.
In theory, if a product is lawfully marketed in one EU Member State, it should enjoy exactly the same status in all Member States. This is the principle of ‘mutual recognition’ and it is key to successful marketing. In many cases, it works well; but in others it simply doesn’t. Often, where there should be mutual recognition there are instead national regulations that vary from country to country. This makes doing business across the EU’s nutrition industry complex and sometimes frustrating.
But don’t be discouraged: despite all the obstacles, the EU’s food supplements market is still vast and growing – and if you can overcome the hurdles in your path, it is a rewarding sector to do business in.
The secret to navigating the EU’s legislative labyrinth successfully is knowledge. Any company seeking to enter the EU’s nutraceutical market with a new or existing ingredient needs to equip themselves with a simple checklist of information: not just what relevant legislation is in place, but also how this is implemented at national level, which national rules will affect their product, and how national authorities interpret those rules in relation to their product.
The pre-market procedures in place in the EU require understanding of their scope, requirements and timings, since they may be costly and time-consuming to deal with. Making changes to a product concept or business plan at an early stage can significantly help to avoid extra hassle and extra costs at a later date.
Investment in supportive research needs to be undertaken in the full knowledge of the appropriate regulatory requirements, so it results in the right data to satisfy them and will not lead to unpleasant surprises. At EAS Strategies, we see too many cases of companies that have invested heavily in studies that do not meet the requirements of the scientific bodies.
The EU market for ingredients and supplements is dynamic and rewarding – but only for those companies that make sure they have the necessary knowledge and understanding of how it is regulated before they take the plunge. Arm yourself with the right information, and you will significantly increase your chances of success.
EAS Strategies will present an exclusive session on ‘Bringing new ingredients to the EU market’ at the Vitafoods Europe Conference on 11 May 2016, at 3.45pm. To find out more about the conference, go to www.vitafoods.eu.com/the-vitafoods-europe-conference/about-the-conference.