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Which trends offer opportunities or pose threats on the European natural ingredients for health products market?

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Various factors currently affect demand for natural ingredients for health products in Europe. Growing consumer interest in alternative medicines, such as nutraceuticals, natural remedies and supplements, creates opportunities. Increasing life expectancy and rising investment in research and development of new medicine and supplements also present opportunities for natural ingredient suppliers. The major risks come from legislative hurdles and political uncertainty.

1. Growing attention to alternative medicine

There are growing consumer concerns about potential side effects of pharmaceutical drugs or regular medication. Many consumers are turning to alternative medicines, such as homeopathy, natural remedies and supplements. Some experts have also been promoting the benefits of alternative medicine, especially to patients suffering from chronic health conditions.

Nevertheless, a study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health in 2017 states that so far alternative practices are primarily used in a complementary manner or in combination with conventional medicine.

According to Grand View Research, the global complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) market was worth USD 69.2 billion in 2019. The market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.9 percent to 2027. Europe has the second-largest market in the world. Studies have shown that the most used CAM treatment is massage therapy (used by 11.9 percent of the population), followed by homeopathy (5.7 percent), osteopathy (5.2 percent), herbal treatments (4.6 percent), acupuncture (3.6 percent), chiropractic (2.3 percent), reflexology (1.7 percent) and spiritual healing (1.3 percent).

This trend is likely to continue, creating opportunities for natural ingredients used in nutraceuticals, supplements and natural remedies. There is an opportunity for suppliers of natural ingredients in developing countries, especially since some ingredients are not grown in Europe.

Turmeric, for example, is indigenous to South Asia and is now finding applications in supplements and in medical products. This is mainly due to turmeric’s curcumin content, which provides benefits such as its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and cancer prevention properties, among many others. Like turmeric, many other botanicals and essential oils used in natural health products cannot be grown in Europe. Examples include baobab, moringa, frankincense essential oil and patchouli essential oil.

Figure 1: Example of turmeric products in the European health products market

 Example of turmeric products

Source: Various

Turmeric is one natural ingredient that is steeped in Ayurveda, a traditional form of medicine that originates from India. These traditional or alternative forms of medicine are becoming popular in Europe, providing opportunities for natural ingredient suppliers in developing countries. For instance, the Swiss government officially recognised Ayurveda and its practices in 2015. The first officially approved ayurvedic practitioners started practising in 2019. The Swiss government has also approved a list of ayurvedic medicines.

There is a growing number of companies offering aromatherapy products across Europe. Significant companies include the UK’s Neal’s Yard Remedies and Germany’s Primavera Life. These companies have a wide range of essential oils which they supply to aromatherapy professionals. Neal’s Yard Remedies works closely with producers in developing countries to source natural and organic raw materials. For instance, the UK company works closely with producers in Oman and Kenya to source frankincense, which is used as an essential oil in its products. Some of the raw materials are certified organic or fair trade.


  • Research what natural ingredients are used in complementary and alternative medicine products, including essential oils and medicinal and aromatic plants.
  • See the CBI studies on baobab, essential oils, moringa and turmeric, which provide further information about the European market potential and entering the European market.
  • See CBI study on aromatherapy in Europe as it provides useful information on the European aromatherapy market.
  • Visit websites of European sector associations, such as EHPM and EFPIA, for updates on regulations and developments in the health products sector.
  • Promote the benefits of your products for health conditions and general wellness. You can do this by informing buyers and displaying this information on your products, marketing materials and website.
  • Ensure you can substantiate your claims with scientific data and certifications. Do not make medicinal claims.

2. Europe’s ageing population

According to the Eurostat 2021 Edition of the Ageing Europe report, the EU population is projected to decline from 447 million people in 2019 to 424 million in 2070. During this period, Member States’ populations will age dramatically given the dynamics in fertility, life expectancy and migration. The median age will rise by 5 years over the next decades. The share of the population aged 65 years and over will increase significantly from 20.4% in 2019 to 30.3% in 2070.

Figure 2: EU population by age group and gender, 2019-2070

EU Population by age group and gender 2019-2070

Source: European Commission, the 2021 Ageing report

This demographic change is causing European countries to put more emphasis on long-term healthcare and will result in rising healthcare costs. This trend is further reflected in the steady increase in healthcare expenditure in all EU Member States. According to World Bank data, expenditure on healthcare in the EU could increase from 8 percent of the total GDP in 2000 to 14 percent by 2030.

These developments are closely monitored by the pharmaceutical industry and manufacturers of nutritional supplements. Hoping to reduce the negative effects of ageing on their overall health many Europeans, especially the older population are increasingly incorporating nutritional supplements into their diets.

A growing number of nutritional supplements are formulated with ingredients such as vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and krill oil, targeting bone and muscle problems in seniors or stimulating a more balanced diet.

This trend provides opportunities for natural ingredients, especially those from developing countries. One such example is moringa, which contains phosphorus and calcium, which are important for bone health. Protein intake is also important for healthy muscle structure. Seaweeds, such as spirulina and chlorella are also rich in vitamin K and protein.

Age plays an important role in the occurrence of type 2 diabetes. According to the World Diabetes Foundation, the high levels of type 2 diabetes in Europe are partly a consequence of population trends. The section of the European population aged between 50 and 79 is projected to increase from 30.8 percent in 2015 to about 35.6 percent in 2040.

Natural ingredients in health products can play an important role in controlling and preventing diabetes. For instance, moringa and baobab can help regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. Turmeric can help improve liver function, which is necessary for people who are treated for diabetes or other health conditions with strong medications.

UK company Aduna was established in 2015 to import African superfood ingredients to the European market, setting up sourcing projects in Ghana, working with 1,200 women and families to procure and process baobab fruit. It also works with producers in Senegal and Ethiopia to source raw materials. Aduna supplies baobab powder, teas and snack bars.


  • Identify the chemical and nutritional profile of your natural ingredients, especially if they can be used for disease treatment or health conditions. Promote these features to buyers, for example by informing them and mentioning these properties in your marketing materials.
  • Do market research on what health issues or needs various age groups in Europe have. Indicate how your ingredients can cater to the nutritional needs of European consumers.
  • See CBI studies on baobab, seaweed/marine algae, moringa, and turmeric as they provide useful information about popular natural ingredients on the European health products market which can be useful for an ageing population.

3. New wave of innovation and investment in health products

More than 7,000 new medicines are currently in development, according to the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). All new medicines introduced into the market are the result of lengthy, costly and risky research and development by pharmaceutical companies. Not all will be successful in passing all the necessary stages of development to receive market approval. However, some could lead to substantial progress in the pharmaceutical industry in the future.

Figure 3: Phases of the research and development process

Phases of the research and development process

Source: EFPIA

According to the EFPIA, the pharmaceutical industry invested more than EUR 37.7 billion in research and development (R&D) in Europe in 2019. Between 2016 and 2020, pharmaceutical R&D increased by an annual growth rate of 3.1 percent. In addition, according to the 2020 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard, the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector amounts to 18.4 percent of total business R&D expenditure worldwide.

On the other hand, not enough peer-reviewed, reliable research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) products is available. To investigate various areas related to CAM products, including regulations and how this sector should be researched, the EU funded the CAMbrella project between 2010 and 2012.

One of the major outcomes of this project was the confirmation of the shortage of good-quality research in the EU on CAM products and the total absence in some individual countries, especially in Eastern Europe. The CAMbrella project recommended, among others, more research on the most prevalent CAM treatments and their effectiveness to address the most common health conditions. Collaborations between the CAM industry and leading academic institutions have been encouraged.

In the coming years, R&D expenditure on pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and related products is expected to increase, translating into potentially higher demand for natural ingredients from developing countries.

The European plant protein market was worth USD 5.8 billion in 2018 and its value is expected to reach USD 9.5 billion by 2027. More investment is therefore expected in plant-based proteins, especially given the growing vegan and vegetarian population in Europe. Exporters of natural ingredients for health products in developing countries should take advantage of this trend, especially since R&D investment and innovation involve a wide range of natural ingredients.

Spirulina is seen as a sustainable and high-quality replacement for meat protein. With the growing vegan and vegetarian population in Europe, demand for spirulina is expected to rise in Europe in the coming years.

Pharmaceuticals and nutraceutical manufacturers are looking for innovative ingredients with high effectiveness. For example, the Indian natural ingredient company Arjuna Natural supplies a turmeric extract with enhanced efficacy under the brand Curcugreen. Its effectiveness claims are backed by university research studies in Japan, India and Australia.

Exporters of natural ingredients for health products should be prepared when approaching European buyers. Suppliers should be able to provide technical dossiers and back up any claims with scientific evidence. When developing an innovative natural ingredient, companies should collaborate with universities and research institutions to support any claims. Such information will help partnering with buyers, especially when introducing new ingredients.


4. Brexit creates challenges for the pharmaceutical market

The implications of Brexit, Britain’s exit from the EU, create challenges for the pharmaceutical market. Britain has officially left the EU and the EU Single Market, and the Customs Union with EU law no longer applies to Britain. However, on 30 December 2020, Britain reached a Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU that came into force on 1 May 2021.

The agreement offers some provisions to facilitate trade between Britain and the EU. However, companies face extra barriers that did not exist before Brexit. This is because both Britain and the EU will function as separate legal and regulatory jurisdictions. For example, Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has released guidance documents explaining how clinical trials, drugs, medical devices and clinical trials will be regulated now that Britain has left the EU.

At the same time, Brexit has caused disruption to supply chains. According to a recent London School of Economics and Political Science study, 3 in 5 UK companies claim Brexit has disrupted their business with border delays, bureaucracy and costs affecting trade.

The most common factors reported by companies related to issues at the border with the EU, with 37 percent reporting delays, 36 percent reporting additional customs and administration costs and 22 percent reporting regulatory checks. Natural ingredient suppliers may want to focus on the EU market, as it makes business easier whilst trade uncertainty continues in the UK.


  • Focus on non-UK markets, because it will likely be easier to do business there, and these markets offer more opportunities.
  • Use the UK Trade Tariff tool to find out what new tariff rates apply to your ingredients.
  • Ensure you are up to date with and conform to any changes, for example on tariffs, if you trade with the UK.
  • Visit association websites, such as CBI and ABPI, for more information on developments in the pharmaceutical market.

5. Continuous improvement of EU regulations

To ensure only high-quality, effective and safe medicines are sold in the European market and protect public health, the pharmaceutical industry in Europe is strictly regulated by EU regulations. Any medicines intended for the European market require regulatory approval under a framework of regulations which is constantly updated to stay up to date with the newest developments in the pharmaceutical industry.

In 2018, the European Commission revealed plans for implementing an EU-wide Health Technology Assessment (HTA) regulation. In June 2021, the European Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement on HTAs to help Member States take quicker and more evidence-based decisions on patient access.

HTAs can be used to evaluate the medical necessity of a new medicine or treatment compared to existing alternatives. This assessment plays an important role in the negotiations between governments and pharmaceutical companies on prices and when deciding whether a new medicine will be reimbursed under their national health systems. HTAs are expected to lead to greater cooperation on clinical assessments, scientific consultations and new health technologies among Member States. It would also give individual countries more leverage against large pharmaceutical companies.

On 9 February 2019, the deadline for pharmaceutical companies to adapt to the new requirements for drug serialisation under the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/161 expired. The regulation was passed by the European Commission on 2 October 2015, with the aim of preventing falsified medicines to enter European markets by adding additional serialisation and traceability measures.

Pharmaceutical companies were granted a transitional period of almost four years for implement necessary adjustments. All packages of prescription medicines now must feature a unique identifier (UI) and an anti-tamper device (ATD) to allow their identification and authentication. This development does not directly affect suppliers of natural ingredients to the health products sector. However, manufacturers of pharmaceuticals are affected by the EU-wide HTA system.

For food supplements, an EU-wide legal and regulatory framework was established in 2002. The Food Supplements Directive 2002/46/EC classify food supplements as foods. Hence, vitamins and minerals, as well as the substances used to manufacture them, have been examined through a comprehensive assessment. A harmonised list of permitted substances that may be used in food supplements in the EU has been compiled. Moreover, the EU directive also regulates the labelling requirements for the food business operators placing the supplements on the market.

Under Directive 2002/46/EC, companies must apply if they want to offer substances on the EU market which are not on the list. This request is subject to approval of the European Commission, which evaluates the request with the support of an opinion from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The list is subsequently adjusted according to the results. Due to their classification as foods, the final safety of food supplements in the European market is a responsibility of manufacturers, importers, suppliers and distributors.

In May 2018, the EFSA’s scientific Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (EFSA NDA Panel) assumed authority for the assessment of nutrient sources added to food. The panel consists of scientists from across Europe who are responsible for carrying out the assessments that support the European Commission’s decision making.

Despite a series of European laws regulating food supplements, the implementation is still mainly subject to national legislation. For instance, there are no binding maximum and minimum levels for the substances used in food supplements. The barely acceptable harmonisation of compositional requirements for manufacturers has led to significant legislative differences within the EU. This has resulted in numerous trade barriers between Member States.


  • Stay up to date on the latest developments on regulations in the pharmaceutical industry, visiting, for example, the Euractiv or European Commission sites.
  • Ensure your ingredients are allowed in European country markets by checking the relevant positive lists.
  • Ensure you comply with the Novel Food Regulation if you are supplying an ingredient that is new to the European market. Access the Novel Food Catalogue on the European Commission website to see which novel ingredients are allowed in the EU.
  • See the CBI study what requirements must natural ingredients for health products comply with to be allowed on the European market. It provides further information about requirements you must meet to enter the European market. It also offers information on additional requirements buyers often have and requirements for niche markets. This will also help you to enter the European market.

6. More European countries will stop paying for homeopathic treatment

In many European countries, homeopathy has been incorporated into national healthcare systems and is therefore often covered by national health insurance. However, there are considerable differences in the extent of reimbursement of homeopathy among European countries. Belgium and France, for instance, have only partly repaid homeopathic practices in their public health systems, as opposed to Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.

Although awareness about homeopathy products in Europe is rising, some developments concern supporters of homeopathy. In 2019, France’s national health authority (HAS) declared that, from 2021, France will stop reimbursing patients for homeopathic treatment. The decision was justified due to a lack of scientific evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy. France’s social security reimbursed 30 percent for homeopathic treatments, adding up to EUR 126.8 million in 2018 out of EUR 19.9 billion total for medication reimbursement.

In Germany, homeopathic treatments are covered by healthcare by law. This includes types of treatment such as anthroposophy, homeopathy and phytotherapy. However, homeopathy and alternative medicine methods were recently subjected to opposition from MP Karl Lauterbach. He proposed a new law that bans refunds for homeopathy in Germany.

These challenges could threaten demand for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in Europe. The consequence is a knock-on effect on demand for natural ingredients used in different types of CAM. This is especially true in countries like France, where consumers are used to having costs of alternative medicine being partly subsidised.

Complementary and alternative medicines are popular in the three main countries with German-speaking populations: Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Suppliers of natural ingredients from developing countries looking at supplying for the CAM sector should focus on these countries. They have large consumer markets for CAM products and a significant number of manufacturers are present.


7. Increasing demand for plant-based supplements

European consumers are seeking more plant-based foods. The same trend is happening for nutritional supplements, providing an opportunity for suppliers of plant-based proteins in developing countries.

According to Google Adwords, vegan-related searches on Google increased by 47 percent in 2020, meaning veganism was almost twice as popular as it was 5 years ago. The United Kingdom had the highest concentration of vegan-related searches, with Austria in fourth place. The perceived health benefits of a vegan diet along with ethical and environmental concerns are three key reasons why consumers are giving up meat. For example, regarding the environment, this is due to meat production requiring intensive use of resources, particularly land and water along with producing greenhouse gases.

Additionally, the meat industry has been receiving negative publicity since the outbreak of the coronavirus in countries like Germany. For example, slaughterhouses have become the source of numerous COVID-19 virus outbreaks. The outbreaks have also exposed the poor working conditions in the meat industry.

An estimated 75 million vegans and vegetarians currently live in Europe and a recent consumer study revealed that European consumers are willing to change their diets to include more plant-based foods. Figure 4 shows the share of young adults who are vegetarians or vegans in selected European countries.

According to an analysis of Google Trends by the Chef’s Pencil, the trend in veganism is growing fast in Europe, led by the UK, Sweden, Ireland, Austria and Germany. The European plant protein market was worth USD 5.8 billion in 2018 and its value is expected to reach USD 9.5 billion by 2027.

Research also shows that whether supplements come from plant-based origins is important to European consumers. According to the Natural Marketing Institute, approximately 71 percent of supplement consumers indicate that plant-based origin is important to them. Moreover, approximately 46 percent do not want their supplements to contain animal products. Their survey also indicates that consumers are willing to pay more for plant-based products, especially in France and Italy.

This trend highlights an opportunity for premium plant-based protein products in the European market, especially as this demand will continue to increase in the future. Suppliers of natural ingredients in developing countries can capitalise on the trend by supplying plant-based raw materials, such as chia, rice and raw cacao to the European market.

Figure 5: Chia seeds

Chia seeds

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Although cheaper alternatives, such as soya, are popular sources of plant-based proteins, consumers are willing to pay more for high-quality premium products. For example, German organic ingredient importer Naturkost Übelhör is sourcing chia seeds from Ghana, working closely with growers to set up supply chains for these organic raw materials. The Momentum Trust also supports and trains chia seeds farmers in Kenya.


  • See websites and associations such as The Vegan Society for more information on the veganism trend.
  • Read the CBI studies exporting chia seeds to Europe. You can find more information on competition, regulations and market entry channels.

8. Increase in over-the-counter medicines and self-care products in Europe

The drive among European consumers to find new forms of disease prevention and treatment is raising awareness of self-care and wellness products. This, coupled with increasing distribution of medicines, is driving growth in the over-the-counter (OTC) drugs market in Europe. At present, more than 4,000 health products are available OTC, with almost half of medicines dispensed in European community pharmacies having non-prescription status.

Market Data Forecast estimated the European OTC drugs market to be worth USD 52.4 million in 2020. The market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.0 percent to reach USD 77.30 million in 2025. Factors behind this growth are convience, easy accesability, low cost and governments in the EU attempting to shift costs to customers and save doctors and pharmacists resource costs.

According to the Association of the European Self-Care Industry (AESGP), using self-care products reduces the strain on social security systems and healthcare costs. Over-the-counter medicines also contribute positively to public health and improve prevention of illnesses.

Figure 6 shows that the share that non-prescription medicines occupy in the pharmaceutical market in European countries ranges between 4 percent and 44 percent. In most countries, non-prescription medicines take up double-digit shares of the market, but in Poland that share is the highest at 44 percent.

Due to increasing consumer awareness about health prevention, the share of OTC medications is expected to continue growing in the future. This trend opens an opportunity for suppliers of natural ingredients for health products in developing countries. Exporters of natural ingredients from developing countries should target companies that produce OTC medicines. Novartis AG, Sanofi and Bayer AG are important companies in this segment.


  • Identify the chemical and nutritional profile of your natural ingredients, especially if they can be used in self-care and wellness products. Ensure you promote these features to buyers, for example by informing them and mentioning these properties in your marketing materials.
  • For updates on market developments and regulations on OTC medication and self-prescription products, visit the website of the Association of the European Self-Care Industry (AESGP).

9. Impacts of COVID-19 on the European health products sector

The global COVID-19 pandemic creates both opportunities and challenges for exporters of natural ingredients for health products. Exporters should capitalise on the opportunities presented by COVID-19 while working towards reducing the challenges it has created.

Consumer behaviour and attitudes are changing because of COVID19 and this is likely to continue in the coming years as consumers continue seeking products which help prevent disease. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, consumers have paid more attention to their health and diets as they try to strengthen their immunity. As a result, consumers are turning to vitamins and supplements, a trend that is expected to continue.

Many natural ingredients for health products contain a number of beneficial properties which help boost immunity. For example, moringa powder contains beneficial active nutrients such as vitamins and antioxidants.

Figure 7: Moringa


Source: Rostovtsevayu / Shutterstock.com

Exporters of natural ingredients with beneficial health properties should capitalise on this opportunity by informing prospective European buyers about their benefits and mentioning these in their marketing materials. Suppliers should ensure their ingredients contain the highest levels of active nutrients and also be prepared to send buyers high-quality samples.

However, at the same time, COVID-19 is also creating major challenges for exporters of natural ingredients for health products who wish to gain access to the European market. A particular challenge repeatedly highlighted by European importers is the disruption to supply chains due to lockdowns and quarantine measures at ports. Importers have also reported that lockdowns and quarantine measures have increased their transport costs and have led to longer delivery times along with causing the cultivation and production of natural ingredients in developing countries to be suspended.

For example, 1 buyer of natural ingredients for health products stated, “we are now facing massive price hikes on freight, delays with containers and vessel sailings, port congestion and longer lead times”. Another buyer stated, “we have experienced higher transportation costs”.


  • Focus on the nutritional profile of your natural ingredient when approaching buyers. Immune-boosting properties are a good selling point when approaching European buyers because consumers are interested in natural ingredients and products which may improve their health. Always substantiate claims you make with scientific studies and evidence. See the CBI study entering the European morniga market, which provides information about entering the European moringa market.
  • Stay informed about the latest developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and quarantine measures in your country of origin and your export markets. You can contact trade offices in your country or join industry associations.
  • Start preparing for future waves of COVID-19, so you are not caught by surprise. Ensure you have enough supplies of raw materials and inform prospective buyers about measures you can implement in case of future waves. Doing so will also give credibility to your business, as this indicates you are a reliable trading partner.

10. Increasing demand for immune-boosting supplements

Consumer demand for health products, particularly supplements which boost immunity, is increasing in Europe. This is viewed as a long-term trend. Thus, exporters of natural ingredients for health products should try and take advantage of this development.

The global COVID-19 pandemic is driving this trend as consumers are seeking to boost their levels of immunity.Many natural ingredients for health products contain beneficial health properties that can help improve and strengthen immune system function. For instance, baobab’s high vitamin C content helps the body fight infections.

Figure 8: Baobab


Source: pxhere

The growing ageing population is another factor driving this trend as these individuals are not only seeking to boost their immune system and overall health, but also have relatively high disposable incomes. This is seen as a long-term trend, because Europe’s ageing population is expected to grow in the coming years.

Exporters of natural ingredients with beneficial immune-boosting properties should therefore capitalise on this opportunity by informing prospective European buyers about the benefits associated with their ingredients. Suppliers should also mention this information in their marketing materials for a further advantage.

European buyers regularly request samples from prospective suppliers which they then test. Indeed, 1 European buyer of natural ingredients for health products stated, “we undertake very stringent testing here”, with another buyer commenting, “we analyse in full detail… we need the best quality, and that is why we need to do this”. You should therefore be prepared to send high-quality samples of your natural ingredient which contain high levels of nutrients.


  • Inform prospective European buyers about the immune-boosting properties of your natural ingredients. For example, suppliers of baobab should inform buyers about baobab’s high vitamin C content.
  • Ensure any claims you make about your natural ingredients are supported by scientific studies and evidence, as this adds credibility. See the CBI study on entering the European market for baobab, as it provides useful information.

11. Growing importance of ethical sourcing for natural health ingredients

Ethical sourcing involves responsible and sustainable production that takes into account environmental issues and social impacts. Ethical sourcing of ingredients, especially biodiversity, is becoming more important for natural health ingredients, and this is expected to continue. This is in addition to mandatory and extra biodiversity requirements.

Research on ethical sourcing done by Ecovia Intelligence on behalf of CBI has found that companies which source in an ethical way and meet regulations have easier access to the European market. Candelu Peru and Indfrag Biosciences are 2 examples of this.

Candela Peru sources natural ingredients from the Amazon and the Andes. It works with native producers to collect Amazonian oils and Brazilian nuts, which it supplies to companies in Europe, North America and other regions. Indfrag is an Indian company producing natural extracts used in the nutraceutical, food and personal care industries. The company deals with a wide range of extracts such as garcinia, amla, arjuna, ashwagandha and turmeric, which are native to South Asia.

Developing countries have an abundance of natural ingredients. Many companies want to export to Europe. It is common for European buyers to ask for certfication showing ingredients are ethically sourced. Certification and industry groups play an important role in market access. The Union for Ethical BioTrade encourages, validates and communicates good practices of companies committed to ethical sourcing and innovation of raw materials through its certification.

To capitalise on this opportunity, exporters of natural ingredients for health products must meet mandatory requirements regarding ethical sourcing and biodiversity to enter the European market. Examples include the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Nagoya Protocol’s Access and Benefit-Sharing (ABS) guidelines.

To further capitalise on this opportunity, exporters should consider if there is a business case for them to acquire certification that shows that they ethically source their ingredients. Note that initial certification fees as well as renewal fees in the future can be costly.


  • See the CBI study buyer requirements for natural health products to Europe, as it provides information about mandatory ethical sourcing and biodiversity requirements you must meet to enter the European market.
  • Inform buyers how you ethically source your natural ingredients and inform them about any certfication you hold which shows this.

This study has been carried out on behalf of CBI by Ecovia Intelligence.

Please review our market information disclaimer.

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