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Growth trends in the new NBJ Supplement Business Report show how fast and how far fortunes have changed for ingredients and channels in the post-pandemic era.

Rick Polito, Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

June 12, 2023

2 Min Read
NBJ Supplement Business Report

The reason “what goes up, must come down” is such a commonly used adage is because it is so universally true. But that doesn’t make it any easier for brands in the supplement industry to watch the big winners of the pandemic-related sales boom come down to earth, dramatically in some cases. At the same time, categories and channels that were left out of the pandemic boom are finding strength as the pandemic slips into the rearview mirror, Nutrition Business Journal finds.

The fact that both gravity and pent-up demand can exist in the same market in the same year is among the lessons in the newly published 2023 NBJ Supplement Business Report.

Ingredients and categories that saw the biggest bounce in 2020 include vitamin C, which saw a 58.1% spike, and herbs and botanicals, which built on what was already best-in-the-industry category growth to hit 17.6%. In the new report, however, both are down for 2022: Vitamin C has declined 7.6%, and herbs and botanicals are down by 1.9%. The overall vitamins category, which added $3.2 billion in sales for 2020, saw its market size shrink by $466 million in 2022.

Such declines are what dragged the overall supplement industry to its slowest growth since NBJ began tracking sales, but declines are not the entire story. Gravity exerted its greatest grip on products that flew high in 2020. Call it pent-up demand or a side effect of the business cycle, but channels and categories that were trapped closer to earth during the pandemic fared much better last year.

Sports nutrition had routinely been the fastest-growing category in the industry through 2015—and was consistently not far behind herbs and botanicals since then. But in 2020, sports nutrition was left in the dust; even the typically sleepy minerals category did better, a lot better. When the world awoke from its pandemic slumber, however, sports was already on the sprinters blocks and clocked 9.2% growth for 2021, besting that in 2022 with 9.7% growth, making it the fastest-growing category last year by far.

Similarly, the practitioner channel was left out of the equation in 2020 when health practitioners couldn’t see patients and gyms closed (gyms are part of the practitioner channel in NBJ’s model). Growth fell by nearly half that year. Now, however, NBJ tracking reveals practitioner is the fastest-growing channel, easily outpacing even e-commerce.

So perhaps just as “what goes up, must come down,” it holds that “what was held back has a chance to shine.”

Supplement_Biz_cover_final final.jpegLearn more about the 2023 Nutrition Business Journal Supplement Business Report at the NBJ store.

About the Author(s)

Rick Polito

Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

As Nutrition Business Journal's editor-in-chief, Rick Polito writes about the trends, deals and developments in the natural nutrition industry, looking for the little companies coming up and the big money coming in. An award-winning journalist, Polito knows that facts and figures never give the complete context and that the story of this industry has always been about people.

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