By Len Monheit
As I write this, I'm literally over the mid-Atlantic, headed to Paris for Health Ingredients Europe. Once there, I am certain to get several pieces of insight, first on the global economic environment, secondly, within the next twenty-four hours, a measure of international feeling on the results of the U. S. election. And finally, recent regulatory decisions, on both sides of the Atlantic, have the potential to dramatically influence the shape of the functional food and food supplements industries in years to come.
The former promises to be most dramatic and in one respect will be simply measured by the number of colleagues making the trek to Paris from North America. The latter will be more sustained, with the US FDA calling out Bayer for trying to test boundaries by going to market with a combination OTC supplement product, and the permitted claims environment in the EU (EFSA) being in absolute turmoil. Whether the issue is quality of submissions, or regulatory conservatism, adequacy of science is under full scrutiny. (By the way, this subject and more will be discussed in detail at the upcoming Nutracon in Anaheim, March 2009: www.nutraconference.com ).
One other fact-finding mission I'm on, at least heading into the HI event, is just what fundamentals will ultimately define the US nutricosmetics market, and whether, as a subset, sort of, of the anti-aging category, its growth will be hindered by consumers more limited discretionary spending. Let's face it- the market is not as advanced or defined as in Europe, yet major players are involved. Does it keep its momentum, even advancing it as consumers think "at least, though all this, I can look and feel better.
And of course, lest I leave my Canadian colleagues behind, word on the street (and in the papers) is that the new government plans to quickly reintroduce ‘a’ version of the controversial Bill C-51 that ultimately expired with the previous parliament. One hopes that industry pressure has already dislodged initial versions of the Bill from political memory and that newer versions better reflect the reality of the Canadian Natural Health Products marketplace.
Back to France, (and I’m here now by the way), on the subject of health ingredients, I must confess an interest in seeing how specific the condition targeting of ingredients are in the light of the health claims environment here in the EU. Are companies continuing their investment in science to back up prospective claims? Just what categories have some merit or are the most likely to find EFSA favor?
Anyway, stay tuned. It promises to be an interesting week the world over and as usual, I’ll weigh in on what I find interesting or ‘museable’.