Herbal Supplement Sales Rose 5% in U.S. in 2009

Sales of herbal dietary supplements in the United States increased by almost 5% in 2009, reaching a total estimated figure of just over $5 billion. The statistics are conclusions of a new report published in the current issue of HerbalGram, the nonprofit American Botanical Council’s (ABC) quarterly journal. Sales in the mainstream market channel (e.g., drugstores, etc.) experienced particularly strong growth, increasing more than 14% over 2008 sales.

“This news is really remarkable,” said HerbalGram Editor Mark Blumenthal. “In the most economically difficult market in over 70 years, when almost all consumer goods experienced a drop in sales, consumers voted strongly with scarcer dollars for herbal dietary supplements.”

The HerbalGram report is based on herb supplement sales statistics from market research firms Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), and SPINS.

NBJ estimated the total herb supplement sales figure for 2009 based on data derived from company surveys, interviews with major retailers and industry experts, and various published and unpublished secondary material.

IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, determined herb supplement sales in the mainstream market channel as being $335,585,700 for 2009, an increase of 14.4% over the previous year.

“The 14% growth spurt is the largest sales increase in the mainstream market in recent memory,” said Blumenthal, who is also the founder and executive director of ABC.

IRI’s figure includes grocery stores, drugstores, and mass market retailers, but it does not include Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, other large warehouse buying clubs, or convenience stores.

SPINS, a Schaumburg, Illinois-based market research firm, found sales of botanical dietary supplements in the natural and health foods channel to be $249,664,836, an increase of 4.5% over 2008 sales in this channel. SPINS’ figure does not include sales from the natural foods store Whole Foods Markets.

In addition to the mainstream market and the natural and health foods channel, herbal dietary supplements are sold in the United States through mail order catalogs and Internet sites, radio and television direct sales outlets, multi-level marketing firms that sell directly to the consumer, health professionals who sell supplements from their offices, and various other channels.

The HerbalGram report includes multiple tables illustrating herbal supplement sales, including a table of the 20 top-selling herbal supplements in the mainstream channel as determined by IRI and a table of the 20 top-selling botanical supplements in the natural and health foods channel as determined by SPINS. The 20 top-selling herbal supplements of each channel are different, both due to different tastes and values of shoppers in health and natural foods stores versus those in mainstream stores, and because IRI and SPINS do not include the same herbal supplements in their data sets.

The 5 top-selling single herbal supplements of 2009 in the health and natural foods channel, according to SPINS, were aloe (Aloe vera), flaxseed oil (Linum usitatissimum), wheat grass and barley grass (Triticum aestivum and Hordeum vulgare), açaí (Euterpe oleracea), and turmeric (Curcuma longa). The top-selling herbal singles of 2009 in the food, drug, and mass market channel, according to IRI, were cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), soy (Glycine max), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), garlic (Allium sativum), and echinacea (Echinacea spp.). These rankings do not include combinations containing multiple herbs.

HerbalGram, a peer-reviewed publication, is available at some bookstores and natural food stores and is mailed to members of ABC. The market report article is posted on the ABC website, accessible here.

About the American Botanical Council
Founded in 1988, the American Botanical Council is a leading international nonprofit organization addressing research and educational issues regarding herbs and medicinal plants. ABC’s members include academic researchers and educators; libraries; health professionals and medical institutions; government agencies; members of the herb, dietary supplement, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries; journalists; consumers; and others within over 70 countries. The organization occupies a historic 2.5-acre site in Austin, Texas where it publishes the quarterly journal HerbalGram, the monthly e-publication HerbalEGram, HerbClips (summaries of scientific and clinical publications), reference books, and other educational materials. ABC also hosts HerbMedPro, a powerful herbal database, covering scientific and clinical publications on more than 220 herbs. ABC also co-produces the “Herbal Insights” segment for Healing Quest, a television series on PBS.

ABC is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. Information: Contact ABC at P.O. Box 144345, Austin, TX 78714-4345, Phone: 512-926-4900. Website: http://www.herbalgram.org/.

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