It’s no surprise that the growth curve in cold, flu and immunity supplements has historically been more volatile than in other conditions. Since Nutrition Business Journal began tracking the category in 1999, growth has tended to spike in years with a severe cold and flu season and drop off in years with lower rates of illness. In keeping with this trend, growth peaked in 2017 to 9.9%, the highest growth rate in a decade, as the U.S. faced the worst flu season it had seen in years. Even less surprising is how all previous growth potential in the category has paled in comparison to the demand driven by the coronavirus pandemic.
NBJ estimates that sales of cold, flu and immunity supplements will reach $5.2 billion this year, with growth of 51.2% over 2019. That is, nearly 10% of all U.S. supplement sales in 2020 will be for immune support. In fact, in a survey of 1,000 U.S.-representative consumers conducted on May 12, only 25% of respondents reported that they don’t take supplements for immunity.
Vitamin C is still the star player in the category, contributing $798 million to immunity supplement sales this year. The highest percentage of surveyed consumers, 47%, reported taking vitamin C to support immunity right now.
Probiotics continue to emerge as a trending ingredient in immunity, with 30% of surveyed consumers reporting use of probiotics to support immunity right now. Pre- and probiotics in cold, flu and immunity have projected growth of 40% this year as the ingredient continues to drive growth outside gut health.
While the category can’t expect to maintain a growth rate over 50%, NBJ does project a lasting boost for immunity supplements. Even with the growth curve normalizing in the coming years, we expect a lasting increase of $1.5 billion over pre-COVID forecasts for cold, flu and immunity.
Learn more about immunity and 20 more health conditions in NBJ's 2020 Condition Specific Report, the industry's go-to guide for data and insights on the conditions driving the supplement market.