Dietary supplements constitute a sector of the food industry that is of great interest to consumers and has seen significant growth year after year. This may be due to the fact that these products bridge the gap between the food and pharmaceutical industries. In this post you will find answers to the questions, such as: What are dietary supplements; What requirements must be met to market a dietary supplement?
Food supplements market
The dietary supplements market in Europe was valued at around USD 15 billion in 2020 and is projected to achieve a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 5.49% from 2021 to 2026.  In Poland, in 2020, the value of the dietary supplements market was estimated at 5.97 billion PLN (approximately 1.55 billion USD), which exceeded the 2015 market forecast by almost 1 billion PLN. 
The COVID-19 pandemic has added value to the dietary supplements industry in Europe, due to increased consumer interest in overall health and wellness. This tendency was also observed in Poland. Between February and March 2020, the largest sales increase was recorded for products in the health category, such as dietary supplements and OTC drugs.
Consumers view dietary supplements as formulations that improve health and well-being. The purchase of such products is thus considered as a means of preventing the development of health disorders. According to a survey conducted by TNS Poland, as many as 41% of Poles believe that dietary supplements have therapeutic properties which they obviously do not have. [1,2]
What are dietary supplements?
Dietary supplements, otherwise known as food supplements, belong to a group of foodstuffs that are concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals and other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect, intended to supplement a normal diet. They are marketed in a formulation that allows dosing, such as capsules, tablets, dragees, sachets with powder, ampoules with liquid, drops and other liquids intended for consumption in small measured unit quantities. It is these characteristics that sometimes cause consumers to equate them with medicinal products.
Composition and labeling of dietary supplements
The composition of the ingredients of any food supplement should comply with EU and national food regulations. The set maximum level of vitamins and minerals and other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect ensures that the use of a dietary supplement according to the information provided on the label will be safe for human health and life.
Proper labeling of a dietary supplement, therefore, becomes quite a challenge and requires entrepreneurs to follow the rules strictly defined by legislators. The basic necessity is to make sure that the content presented on the product packaging is not misleading for the consumer and is allowed to be declared on food (health and nutrition claims).
a list of the nutrients or substances with physiological effect contained, together with their content in the recommended daily intake and the percentage cover of the reference intake values (%NRV),
a warning not to exceed the recommended daily allowance,
a statement that dietary supplements are not to be used as a substitute (replacement) for a varied diet,
a statement that dietary supplements should be kept out of the reach of small children.
The labeling of dietary supplements should in no way state or imply that a balanced and varied diet cannot provide sufficient nutrients for the body.
It should be remembered that foodstuffs, including dietary supplements, that do not meet the legal requirements specified in the regulations (including the requirements for proper labeling) cannot be marketed in Poland and other European Union countries. In the case of a product not meeting legal requirements, the competent state poviat sanitary inspector may prohibit its marketing or order its withdrawal from trade on the territory of Poland.
Notification for dietary supplements
Article 10 of Directive 2002/46/EC leaves it to the national legislator to introduce a notification obligation, which it may or may not exercise. Reporting, or notification of the intention or fact of first marketing of a dietary supplement, is not required in all EU countries. Notification is mandatory in the following countries: Finland, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Italy, as well as Norway and Switzerland.
In Poland, before launching a dietary supplement on the market, a food entity should notify the Chief Sanitary Inspector (GIS). Notification is made by the affected food business or its agent through a notification form in the Electronic Notification System on the government’s GIS website.