The European food supplements industry is benefitting from a campaign emanating from Ireland that seeks to raise industry’s voice in the mainstream media – but the multiplicity of EU languages remains a key challenge.
The fact that 23 official languages are spoken within the European Union’s 27-member bloc is held up as a reason EU industry activity is regarded as being less effective than that of English-dominated North America.
Dr Alan Ruth, the chief executive officer of the Irish Health Trade Association, began a campaign last September to give industry perspectives on scientific research to the mainstream media. He also sought to make mainstream journalists aware of nutrition research as it was published in the scientific literature.
Dr Ruth said he was buoyed by the response to the campaign but despite aligning with 14 trade groups across the EU, language remained a major issue to be overcome if the European industry was to match the effectiveness of its American counterparts.
“I have been encouraged by the fact thatmore positive scientific stories are now being covered by the media than was the case prior to the start of my campaign in September 2009,” Dr Ruth said.
“When I entered the industry a little over threeyears ago, I noticed that dietary supplements were receiving regular beatings in the mediaand that the industry tended to stick its head in the sand and not to fight back.”
In working with the 14 trade groups Dr Ruth said information had been shared that defended industry’s position.
“Getting the word out, as early as possible, about possible negative stories which might hit the national press, gives nationalassociations time to prepare a timely response, if deemed appropriate,” he said.
“My experience to date has demonstrated, not unexpectedly, that language differences have proved to bethe main barrier toexchanging information of this type, within a Europeancontext.Thislanguage barrier does not exist forour industry in the United States, a country with 62 percent of the population of the EU’s 27 memberstates and an estimatedmore than 150 million Americans who currently usedietary supplementsto promote and maintain good health.”