NIU’s Global Round-up: Ireland’s proposed tax increase on supplements, Chinese authorities target direct sellers, and more
Could birch water be the next big “Super Water”?
After coconut water and maple water, European startup ÖselBirch is hoping birch water could be the next big thing.
Made from the sap of birch trees, the beverage is rich in electrolytes and antioxidants, contains trace vitamins and minerals and is naturally low in calories. The water has been touted as a premium 'super drink' because the sap can only be tapped during a two-week window each year.
Estonia-based ÖselBirch, established in 2016, is available nationwide across Estonia. It’s six different products are also available online to all DACH markets (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), with plans to enter retail in these countries by early Spring.
During the recent 2018 Wabel Drinks Summit, the brand received interest from purchasers in Mexico and Brazil, a region saturated with coconut water.
“It really did surprise us,” Anne-Liis Theisen, co-founder and marketing manager of ÖselBirch, told NutraIngredients-LATAM.
“The market is apparently saturated by coconut water, which is so common over there. Birch water could have a good chance, but the entry into the market would require a lot of explanation work and marketing activities,” Theisen added.
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China summons all direct selling firms summoned to regulator meeting
Amid a ‘100-day’ clampdown China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) and the Ministry of Commerce summoned all 91 direct-selling firms operating in China to a meeting.
The clampdown is targeting all of the country’s health food market, but but the direct-selling industry was especially hard-hit by the operation, according to our Asian edition. Indeed, there are reports that Chinese authorities have temporarily stopped issuing the Direct Sale License.
Authorities told the direct-selling firms to self-examine its production process, information made available in the product labelling and dosage information, sales, internal management, and direct-selling agents.
They were also told to refrain from making false or exaggerated health claims about their products and ensure that their operation were lawful.
To protect consumers’ interest, the firms should also provide a feedback channel where product refund or product exchange could be conducted conveniently.
The regulator pointed out that “the number of unlawful practices had come along with the rapid development of the direct-selling industry, which could bring about dire social consequences and the public had reacted strongly against it.”
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Irish supplements industry pushes back on government tax plans
The Irish Government is under increasing pressure to review its VAT increase in response to growing pressure from the country’s retail groups.
Retail Excellence, one of Ireland’s largest industry representatives echoed calls by the Irish Health Trade Association (IHTA) and the Irish Pharmacy Union to rethink the 23% VAT rate due to take effect from March 1. The tax targets vitamins, minerals, probiotics and fish oils.
“This move will have a huge knock-on effect for retailers, pharmacies and particularly small, independent, family run stores who have been the mainstay of high streets up and down the country for decades,” said group CEO of Retail Excellence, David Fitzsimons.
The shock of a 23% VAT hike on these products may threaten 250 local firms with 1,800 jobs across Ireland at a time when the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the Irish economy was all the more real, he added.
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