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					     HERBAL SUPPLEMENT SALES
EXPERIENCE SLIGHT INCREASE IN 2008
                               (UNITED STATES)

By Courtney Cavaliere, Patrick Rea, Mary Ellen Lynch, and Mark Blumenthal

Sales of herbal and botanical dietary supplements in the United States rose slightly in some market channels
in 2008, according to data gathered from market research firms. Information Resources Inc. (IRI) found
steady growth of herbal supplement sales in the mainstream market channel, 1 and SPINS has reported that
botanical supplement sales remained relatively stable in the health and natural food stores sector. 2 Nutrition
Business Journal, meanwhile, has pooled various primary and secondary data sources and determined that
total estimated herb sales in the US market rose by 0.9% in 2008 (see Table 1).




Herbal dietary supplements are sold in the United States through a variety of market channels, including
health and natural food stores; food, drug, and mass market (FDM) retailers; warehouse and convenience
stores; mail order, radio and television direct sales; Internet sales; network or multi-level marketing (MLM)
companies; health professionals in their offices (e.g. acupuncturists, chiropractors, naturopaths, some
conventional physicians); and other channels. While market data companies are able to generate relatively
accurate data of herbal dietary supplement sales for some market channels through cash register and
computer scanning records, most channels do not have such tracking capabilities and are estimated with a
lesser degree of accuracy. However, by pooling various sources of available data and modeling the remaining
multi-channel firms, NBJ has arrived at a total estimated figure for all US herbal dietary supplement sales in
2008 of $4,800,000,000.

According to data supplied by IRI of Chicago, Illinois, sales of herbal dietary supplements in the FDM channel
increased by 7.16% in 2008 from 2007 sales, for a total figure of $289,248,200.1 However, the IRI data does
not represent the entire FDM channel, as it does not include sales reports from Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and
other large warehouse buying clubs, or from convenience stores. Based on data from a SPINSscan consumer
report driven by Nielsen Homescan’s panel of 125,000 households, the market information firm SPINS of
Schaumburg, Illinois, has estimated that Wal-Mart probably accounts for less than 9% of all herbal
supplement sales in the United States.

Previous statistics from IRI found that sales of herbal supplements increased for the first time in the FDM
channel in 2007, after showing steady decreases for several years. 3 This year’s IRI data shows a continuing
trend toward increased consumer purchasing of herbal supplements from mainstream market retailers.1 The
20 top-selling single herbal dietary supplements within the FDM channel, as determined by IRI, are listed in
Table 2.




Sales of cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon, Ericaceae) supplements, which increased by more than 23% in
2007 from 2006,3 continued to rise in 2008, making cranberry the top-selling herbal supplement product
within the FDM channel.1 As noted in last year’s HerbalGram article on the herb supplement market,3 a
systematic review of 10 randomized controlled trials was published by the Cochrane Collaboration in January
of 2008, concluding that cranberry products may prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in women.4 Such
information, in addition to other studies on cranberry’s health benefits, may have contributed to the steady
rising sales of cranberry supplements. Sales of elderberry (Sambucus nigra, Caprifoliaceae) and ginger
(Zingiber officinalis, Zingiberaceae) supplements made significant strides in the FDM channel in 2008,
whereas sales of yohimbe (Pausinystalia johimbe, Rubiaceae) supplements appear to have dropped rather
sharply.1

Natural and health food stores typically provide a larger share of the herbal/botanical supplement market
than FDM outlets, since they tend to cater to what are frequently referred to as “core” shoppers, i.e.,
consumers who are aligned with the values of the natural products market. SPINS has determined that sales
of botanical dietary supplements in the natural and health food channel—including estimated sales from the
natural foods retailer Whole Foods—decreased minutely by 0.004% in 2008 from 2007 sales, for a total of
$329,148,875.2 SPINS collects data on supplement sales from a variety of natural and health food retailers.
Although Whole Foods no longer reports its sales to SPINS, the market information firm is able to estimate
sales of supplements from Whole Foods using an algorithm that incorporates historical point of sale data,
industry trends, Whole Foods’ quarterly financial reports, and other factors.

The 20 top-selling botanical dietary and food supplements within the natural and health foods channel, as
determined by SPINS, are listed in Table 3. According to SPINS, flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum, Linaceae)
and flaxseed oil products were the top-selling botanical supplements within the natural and health foods
channel. Steady interest of consumers in sources of omega-3 fatty acids may be the cause behind this
supplement’s high sales. The superfruit supplement acai (Euterpe oleracea, Arecaceae), meanwhile, showed
a particularly significant increase in sales from 2007.

The sweetening-agent stevia (Stevia rebaudiana, Asteraceae) was also a top-selling botanical supplement in
2008, and its sales increased from the previous year. Future data, however, may show decreased sales of
stevia as a supplement, due to recent introductions of mass market brands of stevia as food additives. As
was reported in HerbalGram issue 81, 2 companies received notice from the US Food and Drug
Administration in December of 2008 that the agency would not object to the use of the companies’ stevia
preparations as food substances that are generally recognized as safe (GRAS).5 Other companies that
produce and market stevia are reportedly seeking and may receive similar FDA acceptance for their
respective preparations, meaning that sales of stevia as a supplement may decrease as sales of stevia as a
sweetener increase.

Sales of single herbal dietary supplements experienced growth in 2008, whereas sales of combination herbal
supplements decreased slightly, according to data from NBJ (see Table 4). Sales of single herbal dietary
supplements (monopreparations) grew by 1.5%, while combination herbal supplements decreased by 0.3%.
Monopreparations typically pull in almost twice as much in sales as combinations.

Some retailers and market research firms have indicated that sales of herbal supplements may have risen
significantly in the last quarter of 2008 and into 2009, due to the economic recession. 6 As consumers are
faced with growing financial concerns and budget restraints, selected herbal dietary supplements may
continue to become substitutes for the more costly conventional pharmaceuticals, particularly among many
of the millions of consumers without health insurance. Market statistics from the first and second quarters of
2009 should provide further evidence as to whether the nation’s financial downturn results in increased sal es
of herbal supplements.
References

  1. FDM Market Sales Data for Herbal Supplements, 52 weeks ending Dec 28, 2008. Chicago, IL:
     Information Resources Inc.
  2. SPINSscan Natural, $2mm+ Natural Supermarkets with Whole Foods estimate sales data, Total US,
     52 weeks ending December 27, 2008 and year ago, SPINS defined herbal category.
  3. Cavaliere C, Rea P, Blumenthal M. Herbal supplement sales in United States show growth in all
     channels. HerbalGram. 2008;78:60-63.
  4. Jepson RG, Craig JC. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Cochrane Database of
     Systematic Reviews. 2008:Issue 1.
  5. Cavaliere C. FDA accepts safety of two stevia preparations for food and beverage use. HerbalGram.
     2009;81:67-69.
  6. Tanner L, With economy sour, consumers sweet on herbal meds. Associated Press; January 13, 2009.




       Sources: http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue82/article3400.html?Issue=82