Natural Foods Merchandiser

Expo West to highlight trends in the supplements world

If supplements are your bag and you’re heading to Expo West, there are some shifts in the pill world you might notice.

The news of the year is the latest entrant to the omega-3 world: krill. If you compare krill to fish oil, krill is only about 2 percent of the fish oil market. Seen that way, there’s a disproportionate number of krill companies compared to fish oil companies exhibiting at Expo West.

Krill is doubling in size every year. The entire krill market is around $25 million, and next year it will be at least $50 million, says Michey Schuett, director of sales and marketing at krill supplier Azantis. A substantial amount of growth, but it remains a fraction of fish oil’s hold on the market.

“Krill is not fish oil,” said Schuett. “The one commonality is EPA and DHA, but other than that it’s got totally different components than fish oil – it’s an omega-3 with phospholipids and astaxanthin. Fish oil has thousands of clinicals on it. Krill is an omega-3 that does other things.”

Another trend Expo attendees will see are the improving offerings of probiotics. Remember, it was only in 2005 when the idea of putting more than one probiotic strain into a supplement first became subject of debate. That debate is now over, with eight strains in a single supplement being fairly commonplace. Innovative companies are also putting prebiotic fibers like inulin or FOS – the probiotic lunchbox – into the mix.

Also on the supps docket is vitamin D. Vitamin D started its run in 2008 when a deluge of research showed benefits for every health condition under the sun. It’s cheap, and easy to formulate with, so it’s in all manners of foods, drinks and supplements. The Institute of Medicine will come out with their revised daily intake recommendations in May. When that happens, 1,000 IU a day will seem tame, and 2,000 IU the natural health standard.

Brain health supplements are gaining in popularity because, um, I forgot. And where’s my car keys? Omega-3 DHA is leading the pack because research continues to show that it can help with ADHD, dyslexia, depression, the baby blues and even Alzheimer’s. Another hot brain-health ingredient is choline, a B vitamin used in the structure of cell walls and is important to the transmission of nerve impulses (neurotransmission).

Retailers must be mindful of branded ingredients that are not bona fide. A growing trend is suppliers who are taking their generic ingredient and dressing it up with the outward trappings of bona fide branded ingredients – catchy name, snazzy logo – without bothering with the under-the-hood aspects that make true branded ingredients special – published research, intellectual property portfolio.

To see what other things are above the sea floor besides fish and krill in the supplements year ahead, dip a toe in Hall B on the Expo show floor.

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