Brexit: Britain can lead global functional foods & supplements markets

By Peter Wennstrom

- Last updated on GMT

'So what an extraordinary opportunity Brexit has given Britain to deregulate and take the lead in global functional foods and supplements innovation...' ©iStock
'So what an extraordinary opportunity Brexit has given Britain to deregulate and take the lead in global functional foods and supplements innovation...' ©iStock

Related tags: European union, Nutrition, European food safety authority

It is EFSA and the EU nutrition health claims regulation (NHCR) that is today the biggest barrier to European innovation in nutrition and Brexit, whatever else it may do, can remove some of those innovation brakes. 

The NHCR impacts both the development and the international competitiveness of the food and supplement industries in Europe and beyond.

Even European pharma is partly deprived of opportunities to venture into the future landscapes of medical nutrition.

Not to mention the cynicism of a system where consumers are dying from eating the wrong foods and producers are forbidden​ to promote or communicate the benefits of eating the right foods.

The sad fact is that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has rewound the clock on innovation and consumer health. Now established, it seems impossible to change even when modern science and simple logic is proving the system wrong.

So Brexit open doors to possibilities denied other European nations. We need only to go back to the days before EFSA to understand what development we have been denied.

Regulation & innovation

The development of the functional food industry before​ EFSA was in EU member states like Sweden and Finland parallel and comparable to Telecom. And it is not a coincidence that the first mobile phones were born in the same science parks as the first probiotic functional foods.

New opportunities opened up with the help of advances in science and technology and they were stimulated by consumer needs and triggered by investments and visionaries from the food and telecom industry.

phone_istock
©iStock

Phones could be mobile​ phones and foods could be functional ​foods! But what really helped these burgeoning new segments to take off was not only the investments but a deregulated environment instigated by the Swedish and Finnish governments.

For mobile phones it meant opening radio frequencies for civil use.

For functional foods it meant a regulatory system that approved structure/function and proprietary claims. The industry grew fast.

Then came the NHCR at the end of 2006 and the first health claims rejections by EFSA in 2008. The functional food industry slowly dwindled…

wennstrom2
Peter Wennstrom

Could you imagine the early telecom industry being treated in the same way? What if a European Telecom Safety Authority had regulated and restricted the use of frequencies for radio and data communication? Then we wouldn’t have seen that industry become what it is today.

So what an extraordinary opportunity Brexit has given Britain to deregulate and take the lead in global functional foods and supplements innovation to the benefit of its consumers, companies and above all – country.

Peter Wennstrom is the founder and president of the Healthy Marketing Team.

Related news

Show more

1 comment

Agree that we have to grab the nettle

Posted by Barry Smith,

We need to unite and get positive quickly.
Within our industry the disconnect from EFSA could provide huge development opportunities.

Report abuse

Follow us

Products

View more

Webinars