Protesters take action against price increase on food supplements

Protesters stood outside Leinster House today to call on Minister Paschal Donohoe to take action against the price increase on all food supplements sold in Ireland.

The revenue commissioners are applying 23% VAT to all food supplements on Friday. This statement was announced last December.

“If Minister Donohoe wanted to introduce a tax as a responsible stakeholder, we would consult and negotiate with him, but this decision has been made by the Civil Servants in Dublin Castle.” said Irish Health Trade Association (IHTA) General Secretary, Phil Costigan.

She also said that, Minister Donohoe refused to meet and, “we are asking Minister Donohoe and his Government to take charge on policy and not allow a tax to come in unmarked.”

“I’m not surprised that we have over 75,000 petitions here.” Costigan said.  Since 1973, most food supplements in Ireland have been supplied at the Zero rate of VAT, in accordance with guidelines published by the Revenue Commissioners.

For the past 40 years food supplements have been sold at a 0% rate, including products like Vitamin C, Cod Liver Oil, Omega 3, Probiotics.

According to the IHTA it threatens 1,800 jobs and 200 independent health stores and with the U.K. exiting the EU, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said, “Now is the time for Government to support small businesses, and to reinforce the viability of towns for shopping and services.”

76 per cent of Irish people take supplements all year round. It is predicted that this number will decrease due to the added VAT, as people may not be able to afford them. It is also said to have an impact on Irish businesses and effect jobs.

Ireland is only one of two countries in Europe who currently have no VAT on their food supplements, but prices are already high without tax.  “I actually bought my last supply of vitamin B in Germany and it cost me €3 compared to €7 for the same amount here.” said DCU student Ciara Byrne.

She continued to say, “I take vitamin B complex and vitamin D because I’m vegetarian and miss out on those for the most part in my diet, I don’t think vat should be added as it’s important for people who need them to have access. If vat is added I may take them every second day instead of every day as they are expensive as it is.”

Jessie Byrne, a nurse working at Dublin City University said that “It’s a massive problem.”

She expects to see more students in the waiting room due to the VAT increase. She stated that probiotics in particular are expensive and things like irritable bowel syndrome are already expensive to treat without this price increase.

She highlighted that supplements are necessary for vitamin D and vitamin B in particular. She dwelled on the need for vitamin D and how irish students struggle to get it between the months of October and March. She said that due to the lack of sun exposure, it can impact the immune system, bone formation and heart deficiency.

By Amy Donohoe

Image Credit: Amy Donohoe

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