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The Analyst’s Take: 36% of US consumers report increased supplement use during pandemic

Claire Morton
Supplements have historically fared well during times of economic crisis, and the current pandemic is causing a spike in sales with 36% of consumers reporting increased supplement usage. This is the latest installment in our data discussion from Nutrition Business Journal’s senior analyst.

Is anything normal right now? A global pandemic, shutdown of cities, states and nations, and subsequent economic downturn have collectively caused enormous shifts in every industry. It is nearly impossible to look back in time at any events that could indicate precisely how the supplement industry will fare, but all evidence points to supplement sales growth surging forward as a bright spot in 2020. 

In a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers fielded March 30, 2020, 36% of consumers reported their use of supplements had increased compared to the previous month. This isn’t surprising, as it coincides with record sales of immunity supplements throughout February and March.

A more telling number is the 39% of consumers that reported an expected increased use of supplements three months from now, signaling a potential halo effect for supplements beyond the immunity category. Perhaps most notably, 20% of consumers who "never” use supplements reported an expected increase in supplement usage in three months, indicating that the health threat is bringing in new consumers. It will be interesting to see if the overall percentage of users grows with some permanence. 

Nutrition Business Journal data shows that the supplement industry was a bright spot during the last economic recession. Sales growth of supplements spiked to 6.4% in 2008, the highest growth rate it had seen in over seven years. 

NBJ assessed at that time that consumer behavior shifted to more proactive and preventative health measures, including the use of supplements to support general health using products such as multivitamins, probiotics, melatonin and fish oils. While we wish we had a crystal ball at NBJ to provide precise details on the year to come, we feel confident that this historical precedent, combined with current consumer demand, paints an optimistic picture for supplement sales this year. 

Interested in more insights from Nutrition Business Journal? Sign up for its newsletter here and learn more about NBJ's annual subscription here.

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