Let us tell you a little bit about us!

The Health Food Institute (HFI) is an independent, non-profit making, professional body promoting training and excellence in the UK health food industry. By providing top quality training for all health food retailers and their staff we are continually working to raise the standards of service and natural health information available to consumers, and in doing so, raising their awareness of holistic health, the potent value of wholefoods, nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and alternative and complementary therapeutic products.

The foundations of the Health Food Institute were laid in 1979 as a professional association to promote industry standards by recognising and rewarding excellence in education within the health food industry. We provide recognition and professional status for individuals who, through their personal efforts, have contributed to the success of the natural product market as a whole.

Committed to providing relevant retail training for health stores across the UK, the Health Food Institute Professional Diploma Course provides health food professionals with the fundamental knowledge required to operate and contribute to the operation of the modern health store. Applications from outside the UK are also welcome.

This distance learning, modular training course allows candidates to work at their own pace completing and returning multiple choice assessment tests as they complete each module.

We believe it is important for health food stores to show they have a strong commitment to an accepted standard of professionalism, as this has such a positive influence on the collective reputation of all health food stores. It is absolutely right that people who give advice and support to the general public on health matters, should be able to prove that they have a code of practice and have undergone formal and recognised training. This is the mission of the Health Food Institute.

Qualifications Offered

Professional Diploma Part 1

Professional Diploma Part 2

Supplier Course

Ready to find out more?

Drop us a line or give us a call. 


John Frisby


I had an early fascination with wholefoods (especially muesli!) and a quest for a natural way to treat digestive problems that I’d suffered in my teens – My health food business, “Food For Living” was created in 1977. My interest in nature cure blossomed and I have enjoyed 40 years in a wonderful industry.

My passion was extended when I was invited to join the Health Food Institute as a council member. I was honoured and proud to be asked to become the chairman of the Institute as I believe that training and knowledge are the cornerstone of our industry.


Ray Hill


I arrived in this trade in 1960 following a training in the practice of Nature Cure. The health food store being the obvious place to promulgate its principles, especially those relating to what we eat and drink. To offer organic, unprocessed food, nutritional supplements, herbal and homeopathic medicines to health store customers is a privilege and a pleasure.

In the late 1970’s I thought those people qualifying in the health food retail training deserved the status of a professional body to which they could belong. In 1979 this Institute was inaugurated and I have been here in one role or another ever since.


Dave Pollard

Council Member

In my first profession I was a fully trained Savoy Hotel Chef, then a Food Sales Representative, calling on health shops.  This resulted, in 1988, in my wife and I purchasing a 250 sq. ft. health shop.  Within a couple of years we had moved to much bigger premises, eventually ending up with a 1,000 sq. ft. health shop.

I am very health conscious myself and I love being in an industry that continually innovates.  I really feel part of my community and have met a lot of great people, it’s never lonely!


Alison Collingwood


With a degree in Biology and a strong interest in natural health, nutritional therapy and herbal medicine, Alison provides friendly help and guidance to students taking HFI training courses in independent health food shops across the UK and in Ireland.  In her spare time Alison is a keen organic gardener, dabbles with making her own herbal remedies and cosmetics, and loves to cook for family and friends.

The HFI Protocol - A guide for sales staff advising and selling in a health food shop

Everyone employed in the sales area of a health food shop wanting to give a customer sound, helpful advice needs to listen to the customer. There are many factors that influence a person’s health. So to avoid any confusion, and to get an immediate understanding of the customer’s reason for seeking advice, you will need to ask a series of relevant questions.

For some decades now the Health Food Institute has offered participants of its training courses a means of understanding how to proceed with a customer’s enquiry relating to a health problem without compromising the ethics and legal constraints imposed on retailers.

This is known as the Health Food Institute Protocol.

The Protocol is an important aspect of working in a health food store – please contact us for details on how your store can achieve certification. More detailed examples of how to apply it are given in Level One Module Two of the Health Food Institute Professional Diploma Course.

For further information contact the Administrator, Health Food Institute, P.O. Box 10978, Nottingham, NG2 9XG,

Telephone 0115 9234 534 or email enquiries@healthfoodinstitute.org.uk