A majority of Americans continue to use vitamin and mineral dietary supplements and the use of herbal supplements is on the rise, according to new research by The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI).
"In 2005, 55 per cent of those surveyed considered mineral and dietary supplements ?extremely? or ?very? important to maintaining health, which is up from 52 per cent in 2000," said NMI managing partner Steve French, in his recent presentation at the SupplySide West convention in Las Vegas. "Another 23 per cent of those surveyed deemed herbal supplements important, which is a significant jump over the 14 per cent in 2000."
In NMI?s survey, 38 per cent of US adults reported taking a multi-vitamin in the past 30 days. Another 37 per cent reported monthly consumption of calcium and 24 per cent took vitamin C. Antioxidants were supplemented by 14 per cent; fish oil and aloe were each supplemented by 13 per cent.
The top health conditions supplements users report that they are trying to prevent are osteoporosis (17 per cent), and arthritis/joint pain and heart disease (each 15 per cent). (See chart above.)
The types of supplements consumers are choosing have also changed over the past few years, as a growing number are showing interest away from traditional pills and capsules.
"Last year, 25 per cent of consumers would be interested in chewable pills, 17 per cent would choose chewing gum and 10 per cent chose quick-dissolve strips,"
French said. "In 2002, only 13 per cent chose chewables, 7 per cent chose chewing gum and 6 percent chose quick-dissolve strips."
On the food front, an impressive two-thirds (62 per cent) of all consumers appear to understand that foods/beverages contain specific ingredients that can support health. This is an increase of 35 per cent since 2003. Monthly expenditures on fortified foods and drinks are $65 per month, which is almost double what they were in 2003.
While consumers continue to read labels to look for a food?s fat and calorie content, those looking for protein content rose to 22 per cent in 2005. This is up from 17 per cent in 2004.
Consumers also appear to have greater awareness of different kinds of fats: 82 per cent know about trans-fats, up 37 per cent from 2003. And 52 per cent try to limit their trans fats, which is up 26 per cent from 2003.
For years, consumers reported that they believed calcium was the number one nutritional deficit in their diets. While 27 per cent still felt this way in 2005, for the first time, fibre took the number one spot, with 29 per cent of respondents believing they are deficient in this nutrient.
The NMI surveys also show that growing numbers of the population are interested in avoiding artificial sweeteners (49 percent), vs only 39 per cent in 2003. A whopping 55 per cent are concerned about the ?negative side effects? of such sweeteners.
At the same time, consumers are trying to avoid sugar as well. Since 2002, the percentage of people watching sugar in their diet rose 13 per cent to 52 per cent in 2005. Among parents, 26 per cent are seeking children?s products without added sugar, which is up 44 per cent since 2002.
"Regarding sweeteners, consumers clearly want it all," French explained to FF&N. "They are concerned about calories in sugar, and about the negative connotations with artificial sweeteners. Although these are attitudes — not actual behavior — these facts do make it clear that there exists a significant marketplace opportunity for natural sweeteners."
This also indicates future opportunities for the low-glycaemic index.
"As low-carb dieting wanes, low/no sugar, sustained energy and low glycaemic are prime areas for growth," French concluded. But companies would be wise to be careful in how they market those products and focus on product benefits rather than features, he said.
Few nondiabetic consumers appear to understand what ?glycaemic index? means — only 20 per cent. However, they do understand the concept that certain foods can help a person manage blood sugar (31 per cent).