Herbal supplement retail sales up 4.5 percent in 2011

Herbal supplement retail sales up 4.5 percent in 2011

ABC's new HerbalGram report shows that consumers continue to demand herbs and other plant-derived ingredients as an essential part of self-care.

Sales of herbal dietary supplements in the United States increased by 4.5 percent in 2011, reaching a total estimated figure of nearly $5.3 billion (USD). The statistics are conclusions of a new report published in the current issue ofHerbalGram, the nonprofit American Botanical Council’s (ABC) peer-reviewed quarterly journal. Sales in the mainstream market channel (e.g., drug stores, etc.) continued to grow, increasing almost 3 percent over 2010 sales while sales in natural food stores rose by a strong 5.5 percent.

“These sales data indicate continued strong consumer demand for herbs and other natural plant-derived ingredients as an essential part of their self-care,” said HerbalGram Editor and ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. “What is even more remarkable,” he added, “is that herbal supplement sales grew while the economy is still considered in recession, a sign of how highly American consumers value these safe, low-cost materials.”

The HerbalGram report is based on herb supplement sales statistics from the Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) and market research firms SymphonyIRI, and SPINSscan Natural.

NBJ, a publication of New Hope Natural Media in Boulder, Colo., estimated the total herb supplement sales figures for 2011, discussed above, based on data derived from market research firms, company surveys, interviews with major retailers and industry experts, and various published and unpublished secondary material.

SymphonyIRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, determined herb supplement sales in the mainstream market channel (e.g., food stores, drug stores, and mass-market retail outlets) as being $379,286,600 for 2011, an increase of 6.9 percent over the previous year. SymphonyIRI’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, Ill.-based market research firm, found sales of botanical dietary supplements in the natural and health foods channel to be $251,212,449, an increase of 9 percent over 2011 sales in this channel. SPINS’ figure does not include sales from the natural foods store Whole Foods Market.

The five top-selling herbal supplements of 2011 in the health and natural foods channel, according to SPINS, were flaxseed oil (Linum usitatissimum), grass (wheat and barley; Triticum aestivum and Hordeum vulgare), turmeric (Curcuma longa), aloe (Aloe vera), and milk thistle (Silybum marianum). The top-selling herbal singles of 2011 in the food, drug, and mass-market channel, according to SymphonyIRI, were cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), soy (Glycine max), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), garlic (Allium sativum), and ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) leaf extract. Natural foods channel rankings may include some combination herbal products, as SPINS codes sales by primary ingredient.

The HerbalGram report comprises multiple tables illustrating herbal supplement sales, including, for the first time, a table of the 40 top-selling herbal supplements in the mainstream channel as determined by SymphonyIRI (where HerbalGram has traditionally published the top 20), and a table of the 20 top-selling botanical supplements in the natural and health foods channel as determined by SPINS. The top-selling herbal supplements in 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 SymphonyIRI and SPINS do not include the same herbal supplements in their data sets.

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, network marketing firms that sell directly to the consumer, health professionals who sell supplements from their offices, and various other channels.

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