Sales growth for the natural products industry slowed in 2017, according to preliminary estimates from New Hope Network's Nutrition Business Journal, but is still stronger than that of the overall food and beverage industry, which has essentially stagnated.
Natural, organic and functional food and beverage sales make up the lion's share of the market—and a slowdown in sales growth of these products in brick-and-mortar channels, especially mass market, was the biggest driver of the overall industry's slower expansion rate last year.
E-commerce sales grew 12.6 percent, but they make up such a small portion of overall sales (less than 5 percent) that they didn't fully compensate for the brick-and-mortar slowdown.
Supplements continued to recover from hard times experienced a few years ago, with especially strong growth online and in the practitioner channel.
In a New Hope Network survey of about 300 natural products manufacturers, e-commerce emerged as an important launch pad for new brands, especially in non-food categories.
Natural and organic food and beverage brands, though, say that the natural channel is still where they're seeing the greatest growth.
For more industry insights, watch The State of the Natural Industry 2018 presentation from Natural Products Expo West or check out NBJ's recent issue on the evolving retail landscape.