Tax change could mean €6 rise in cost of food supplements

The price of some popular food supplements could rise by over €6 if the Government decides to subject them to the standard VAT rate in the upcoming Budget.

A price survey shows the cost of fish oils, probiotics, vitamins and supplements claiming to promote health and well-being will all see a substantial hike if the 23pc VAT rate is imposed.

Revenue has provided a long-standing concession, allowing a zero VAT rating of vitamins, minerals, and fish oils, but it said this is being exploited with too many products claiming the exemption.

The Government is now considering a report which sets out a series of options that will result in some or all vitamin and mineral tablets being more expensive.

The move is being opposed by Health Stores Ireland, representing 200 health food stores, amid warnings it will drive consumers to buy unregulated products online.

Chief executive Matt Ronan said it would “contribute to a further decline in retail choice and diversity in rural towns. These imported products are not subject to the same regulations applied to retail stores”.

The consultation document currently being examined by Department of Finance officials sets out a number of options including imposing the standard rate on all or some products. It could be confined to sports, slimming or cosmetic supplements.

Another option is to choose a reduced 13.5pc of VAT or go the lowest 9pc VAT hike.

In a submission, Health Minister Simon Harris said the Department of Health did not in general recommend food supplements. But there are two exceptions including folic acid for pregnant women to reduce the risk of having a baby with a birth defect.

The other exception is vitamin D for infants.

It is also the case that food supplement products may be recommended in specific circumstances by health professionals for their patients.

The Revenue Commissioners decided that 23pc VAT should apply to all food supplements from March 1 last, but Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe deferred this pending the report of the public consultation process.

Mr Ronan said: “The consultation process appears to have been flawed since the beginning as it does not provide an option for the zero rate of VAT to be maintained.

“The impact of this VAT imposition could be catastrophic for local retailers across the country who stock food supplements.”

Possible price of supplements

  • Eskimo Oil 105 capsules – €14.99 to €18.45
  • Higher Nature: Red Sterol Complex 30 caps – €9.72 to €11.95
  • Macánta Curcumin (Turmeric Extract) 200mg 60 caps – €19.95 to €24.55.
  • Optibac EveryDay Probiotic Extra 30 caps – €22.99 to €28.30
  • MacuShield Gold 90 Capsules – €28.55 to €35.15
  • Udo’s Choice Super 8 Microbiotic 30s – €25.99 to €31.97

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