Natural Foods Merchandiser

Sales of energy-support supplements surge

Energy support refers to the body's ability to maintain energy and counter fatigue. Some products marketed for energy support include ingredients that focus on delivering both stimulation and support, while others are marketed to serve just one purpose. Stimulating ingredients produce a short-term burst of energy and include green tea, gotu kola, guarana and red ginseng. However, such ingredients can, over time, have a diminishing and even reverse effect, depleting the body's reserves and contributing to fatigue. Conversely, supportive ingredients build and nourish the nervous system by improving the body's ability to handle stress and strengthen its energy reserves. Examples of supportive ingredients include Siberian ginseng (eleuthero), wild oats, bee pollen and licorice. Unlike stimulants, supportive ingredients produce a sustained, balanced and subtle form of energy production.

Total sales of energy-support supplements have been steadily increasing. Annual combined-channel dollar growth of products classified in SPINS energy-support health condition was 15.5 percent in 2007, and during the most recent two-year period, sales increased by nearly 23 percent. The majority of sales gains are in the conventional channel. Year-over-year growth in naturals supermarkets has slowed from 11.1 percent in 2006 to 8.9 percent in 2007, while growth in conventional food, drug and mass retailers has increased from 6.4 percent in 2006 to 15.5 percent in 2007. Growth drivers and product mix vary significantly by channel. Products with supportive and nourishing ingredients represent the majority of dollar volume in naturals supermarkets, with top-selling items containing ingredients such as goji berry, vitamin B complex and bee pollen. Green tea is the most predominant stimulating ingredient found in products sold through naturals supermarkets. In conventional FDM, top-selling products mainly focus on stimulation, with primary ingredients that include tyrosine, red ginseng, taurine and caffeine. Combined-channel top-dollar-volume ingredients include vitamin B complex, ginseng and goji berry. However, four of the top five dollar-generating ingredients had declining sales in 2007. Combined-channel top-dollar-growth ingredients include taurine, lemongrass and milk thistle. Products with vitamin B complex represent the majority of energy-support sales across both channels, with a 45.6 percent segment share in naturals and 57.2 percent in conventional FDM.

Just as product ingredients vary by channel, so do the brands and items carried. Naturals supermarkets and conventional FDM each carry more than 175 brands; however, there are more than 100 unique brands in each channel and only 65 that overlap. Brands that are strong across both channels include Genesis Today, Nature's Way and Solgar. Top-volume brands in naturals supermarkets include Genesis Today, Solaray, New Chapter, Y.S. Organic Bee Farms and Solgar; the top five brands represent 39.7 percent of all energy-support sales in naturals stores. In conventional FDM, top brands include Chaser, Nature Made, Nature's Bounty, Sundown and Ginsana, with the top five brands accounting for nearly 65 percent of sales. Private label product sales are also strong in both channels, representing 9.3 percent of total volume in natural supermarkets and 16.4 percent in conventional FDM. Naturals supermarkets lead in terms of number of items available, but FDM introduced more items in 2007. Naturals supermarkets sell 1,018 items, 58 of which were introduced in 2007. Conventional FDM has 795 items, of which 93 were introduced in 2007.

Top $ volume energy-support ingredients

Combined Channel

Current $

Year Ago $

% Change

Vitamin B complex




Ginseng (all - except Siberian ginseng)




Goji Berry




Royal Jelly




Bee Pollen




Top $ growth energy-support ingredients

Combined Channel

Current $

Year ago $

% Change









Milk Thistle




Whole Food Concentrate




Protein - milk protein




Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIX/number 4/p. 44

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.