'It's a slap in the face' - VAT increase to hike price of vitamins and minerals
A VAT hike on food supplements is set to increase the price of vitamins and minerals by almost a quarter.
The hike, from zero to 23pc, has been slammed as a "slap in the face" to both consumers and small businesses.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe defended the move yesterday after the Government was accused of "sneaking" in the price rise by Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin in the Dáil.
He said that hundreds of thousands of people across the country take vitamins and minerals daily.
According to the Revenue Commissioner's guidance document, the standard rate of VAT applies to food supplements like slimming aids and protein powders. These will remain unaffected by the VAT hike.
However, there has been a zero-VAT rating on certain types of vitamins, minerals and fish oils since 1972. The increase is set come into effect on these products on March 1.
Speaking this morning, Matt Ronan, a spokesperson for Health Stores Ireland, said the VAT increase on food supplements will be a "hammer blow" to the industry.
"We're talking about the vulnerable in our society, the elderly, those on pensions, heavy users of the products," Mr Ronan told RTÉ Radio One's Morning Ireland.
"This is right across the board. It's like this, if you're buying something in the €20 area, this will be jumping up almost five euros.
"You're putting a fiver on top of all those types of products. On the more expensive products, around the €40 mark, you're adding 10 euros on top. It really pushes the prices higher."
Mr Ronan continued; "Then you have people who will try and buy a cheaper product or a smaller pack size, it'll be less good value to them.
"People will be struggling to maintain the benefits they're getting from these products."
When asked if businesses will be able to absorb any of the price hike, Mr Ronan replied; "Thousands of small businesses like myself are struggling in small towns. We need to keep going and get the bills paid.
"All these small businesses will struggle on how to cope. How we will all cope, nobody knows.
"We're already in chaos because of Brexit."