Food supplements: Four steps to a compliant product launch

Consumers are increasingly on the lookout for ways to improve their physical and mental health. With the emergence of COVID-19, the food supplements sector saw massive growth as consumers around the world prioritised their health and wellbeing. Food supplements are a convenient solution to boost the intake of nutrients, support immunity, improve mental wellness or enhance physical performance.

If you’re considering launching a new food supplement it’s vital that your formulation, claims, and packaging are all compliant in the markets you plan to sell into. There can be surprising differences in regulations across different territories, and if you are taking a product to multiple markets then the complexity only increases. Read on to find out our four steps to ensure your food supplement launch is compliant.


Step 1: Assess your ingredients and formulations across different markets

For a successful multi-market launch, it is essential to ensure that all ingredients are compliant in the markets you want to launch in. This is especially important for functional ingredients such as botanicals and herbs as the regulations for these ingredients are typically non-harmonised across different markets. Check if the ingredients are classed as ‘novel’. If any ingredients are, then they are subject to specific regulations like the Novel Food Approval process in the European Union. It’s also advisable to check how the end-product will be categorised as this has implications for aspects such as labelling, logos and taxations.


Step 2: Check the compliance of a unique processing technology

We are in an age of innovation where new processing technologies are being developed to produce ingredients and products. This may be to improve process efficiency, sustainability or to enhance the functional properties of an ingredient. However, it takes time for regulations to catch up with new technologies, and it would be cautious to check the compliance of the innovative technologies against the regulations in the different markets. A particular technology may modify an ingredient’s structure significantly, rendering it novel and requiring pre-market approval.


Step 3: Validate the relationship between the formulation and the desired nutrition or health claim

Check the requirements of each market with respect to the use of nutrition and health claims. The requirements vary from market to market. For example, EU requirements can be more stringent than those of other markets like the USA. You must ensure that the formulation meets the conditions of use, and that substantial evidence exists demonstrating the benefits the functional ingredient brings to the human body.


Step 4: Be careful with your marketing claims

Marketing claims, such as “clean-label” or “natural”, can be a valuable communication tool but must be used with caution. Unsubstantiated claims can mislead consumers, damaging brand reputation and loyalty. It’s worth spending the time upfront to check your that claim is valid before using it on packaging and advertising.


How Leatherhead can help

Leatherhead Food Research is here to support you from concept validation to checking the compliance of product artwork before launch. Where non-compliances are identified, Leatherhead can provide recommendations for alternative ingredients, labelling or claims to ensure a closer alignment with the regulations in your target markets.

Our team consists of food developers, ingredient specialists and multi-lingual regulatory affairs professionals who are ready to guide you at each step. Get in touch at [email protected] for more information. Remember, if you’re a Leatherhead Member (Bronze and above) you can use your Helpline allocation for food supplement support.


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