The State of the Natural Products Industry


In Canada, natural health products (NHPs) fall under the Natural Health Products Regulations of the Food and Drugs Act. These Regulations came into effect on   January 1, 2004. By September 1, 2014, no retailer can have a product on their shelf that does not have a legal, natural product license (NPN). Retailers are also no longer permitted to purchase unlicensed product from suppliers as of December 31, 2013.

As of September 1, 2014, all tinctures from BC companies Harmonic Arts and Laird Creek, will no longer be available on our shelves. We are very sorry to have to say good-bye to these very popular and in the case of Laird Creek, very local tinctures. Although we in the Wellness department have done our best to fill our shelves and backstock room with these specific products, we can only offer them as long as supplies last as we can no longer purchase these products to sell at the Co-op. But please note that it is only the tinctures from these companies that are affected by this regulation, Laird Creek salves and body oils and Harmonic Arts superfoods and mushroom blends will still be available, as they do not require NPN numbers.

What are these licenses for?

The stated purpose of the regulation it to provide consumer protection for NHP products, with a view to assuring product safety, efficacy and quality. That said, the natural products industry has historically been very safe. In contrast with the pharmaceutical industry, there have been no reported deaths associated with NHPs, nor has there been strong consumer or citizen demand expressed for heavier regulation of the natural health products industry. So although the safety of these tinctures is not in question, without the required licenses they will not be permitted to be sold in a retail setting.

What is a natural health product?

About 80% of the products we carry in the Wellness department come under this legislation, including all vitamins and minerals, herbal remedies sold in capsules or as tinctures, homeopathic medicines, traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicines, probiotics, and other products like amino acids and essential fatty acids.

Why are the small companies being targeted?

The regulatory framework is very complex, making it challenging for businesses and individuals alike to understand. For small/local natural health companies, the costs of applying for product licensing will be far more than most small businesses can afford. While there is no cost to apply for an NPN license, the cost of providing the necessary clinical studies and required product site licensing are much higher than most small businesses can afford. The estimated costs are a minimum of $10,000 per product. For large natural health companies with larger economies of scale, licensing costs will not be insurmountable. Most required supplements in the Wellness department have already received their NPNs or are in the final processes of approval.

More information
If you are interested in finding out more about a proposed alternative legislation that gives Natural Health Products and Traditional Medicines their own Act, called the Charter of Health Freedoms  or visit us in the Wellness department and we can provide more information.

Michelle, Wellness Manager