Washington, D.C.—The Natural Products Association (NPA) announced on March 18 that it has asked Governors of all 50 U.S. states to deem health food stores selling nutritional supplements “essential businesses” and to allow small businesses to request Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance. The letter sent by NPA can be viewed here.
As WholeFoods Magazine previously reported, NPA noted that states and territories have begun to order the closure of most businesses for an indefinite period except for supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants offering carryout or delivery, medical equipment stores, gas stations, and banks. NPA stressed that health food stores are also necessary during the COVID-19 health crisis as these stores offer essential products, including water, electrolytes, nutritional supplements, healthy food options, and other health-related products such as hand sanitizer.
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“It is imperative that essential businesses such as health-food stores that provide nutritional supplements and other health and wellness products remain open for business,” said Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., President and CEO of NPA, in a press release. “Local businesses are an essential resource for Americans in times like these, especially people at risk, who need access to neighborhood stores. Communities need these stores open and we are asking lawmakers to lift any order as it relates to health food stores.”
Dr. Fabricant added that many of the men and women who make up the natural products industry are the neighborhood small businesses that are vital to all local economies. “Natural products retailers are essential to the health of local economies and millions of Americans across the country. It is critical for these small businesses to stay open and receive the assistance necessary to make it through this public health crisis. To date only four states (ME, PA, OH, WI) have made the request to SBA for the bridge funding. Small businesses the lifeblood of any industry need that funding made available nationwide.”
NPA also sent a letter to President Donald Trump to take action to prevent manufacturers of health products from closing. Using NOW Foods as an example, the letter explained: “[I]n Nevada, a manufacturing and distribution center that provides dietary supplement products for retailers nationwide, that are vital to supporting the health of millions of Americans is under threat of being ordered to close if they are deemed non-essential. Located in Sparks, Nevada, NOW Foods employs over 500 people and is a modern warehouse with softgel, capsule, tablet, and powder manufacturing lines, as well as an advanced suite of analytical laboratories that allow for rapid and comprehensive testing of both incoming ingredients and outgoing finished products.”
Dr. Fabricant expressed concern in the letter that closing such businesses would “limit access to vital health products for millions of Americans,” and also could lead to a situation in which consumers are forced to seek overseas products. “As we navigate this health and economic crisis,” Dr. Fabricant wrote, “we do not believe it is the appropriate action to increase our reliance on products sold outside of the United States. A reliable and functioning supply chain is imperative for essential businesses – including natural products retailers – to continue operating and providing nutritional supplements and other health and wellness products during this public health emergency.”
A message from NPA on Twitter called for action: #SmallBusiness is the backbone of the American economy. Health food retailers rely on their supply chain to provide consumers with the #naturalproducts they need. Join NPA’s call to action and let lawmakers know these essential businesses must remain open.