The children’s health market is growing faster than a well-fed eight-year-old who takes a quality multi (of course). Sales shot up by 18.5% in 2021, far better growth than the adult market, which grew by 7.5% according to the 2022 Nutrition Business Journal’s Condition Specific Report. Back in 2020, growth in sales for kids’ products came in behind the overall market, at 13.7%.
Why the swap? Early in the pandemic, “the common wisdom held that children were not at great risk of contracting COVID,” report NBJ analysts. But when more contagious variants popped up like viral whack-a-moles in 2021 and concerns swirled around vaccine age restrictions, parents started to focus more on supporting their children’s health with supplements.
Two decades ago, when Murray Clarke, DNM, D.Ho., L.Ac. founded ChildLife Essentials, the first complete line of nutritional supplements for infants and children, convincing “parents their children needed nutrients was much harder,” he says. “Over time, people began to understand the importance of supplementing throughout childhood.” Today, half of parents (52%) say their child regularly takes a supplement, according the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.
And when the pandemic shined a spotlight on proactive health, parents invested in supplements for their whole family. Children’s supplement sales in the 52 weeks ending July 10, 2022 reached $823,735,000 according to SPINS. NBJ forecasts that 2021’s sales acceleration will be followed by a correction in 2022, with predicted growth falling to 3%. That weaker growth, however, comes from a substantially larger base. The children’s health market was 34.7% larger in 2021 than it was pre-pandemic in 2019. In 2025, analysts expect it to be 48.2% larger.
Top delivery formats
Gummies are still by far the favorite format with sales up by more than 17%, year-over-year, in the 52 weeks ending July 10, 2022, according to SPINS, which reported $442,655,711 in sales. Sales of liquids grew faster, though, at a rate of nearly 25%, lifting sales to $183,064,417 in the 52 weeks ending July 10, 2022. Chewable tablets were the next best-selling format, with $92,568,984 in sales. Sales of powders grew by a noteworthy 20.5%, reaching $25,784,379 in the 52 weeks ending July 10, 2022.
Multivitamins and probiotics make up 82% of sales of the children’s market, and surprisingly, both had stronger growth in 2021 than the year before when the overall market soared, report NBJ analysts. Among products that embody this trend, along with the growing popularity of powders, is ChildLife Essentials ChildBiotics Probiotics with Colostrum powder. It delivers pre- and probiotic powder blended with colostrum to build immune systems and healthy microbiomes in infants to teenagers.
Data suggests parents are focusing on general health while specific issues like cognition flag in the marketplace, according to NBJ analysts. Among condition specific supplements, cold and flu formulas sold best, up nearly 60% in the 52 weeks ending July 10, 2022, to reach $193,496,713. Children’s sleep supplements experienced the next most impressive growth rate at 32.8% with sales reaching $126,454,000 in the weeks 52 weeks ending July 10, 2022. Sleep issues can be symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression, conditions on the rise among children. American children are in the midst of a mental health crisis, struggling with anxiety and depression at unprecedented levels, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book.
Sales of kids’ digestive health supplements grew by about 9%, to reach $109,805,100 for the 52 weeks ending July 10, 2022. Immune health product sales grew by over 26% to reach $23,561,531.
Multivitamins continue to be the functional ingredients parents seek most according to SPINS. Children’s multivitamin sales reach $318,480,000 in the 52 weeks ending July 10, 2022, up by only about 1%, year-over-year. Sales of formulas with melatonin, on the other hand, grew by nearly 35% to reach $118,534,000, the next best-selling functional ingredient. Probiotic products clock in next with $82,506,100 in sales, up by about 17% from the previous year.
Sales of elderberry products shot up by over 57% to reach $62,732,774 in the weeks ending July 10, 2022. Sales of ivy leaf products also grew like, well, vines, to hit $49,218,490 with 58% year-over-year growth. Vitamin C (not ester c) product sales also had stellar 55% year-over-year growth to reach $29,077,507.
Multi and probiotics’ absolute dominance over the children’s health supplement market “tells us there is room for innovation and marketing for other ingredients,” say NBJ analysts. “Marketing to minors can be tricky, especially for anything that’s more optimization than maintenance, but the pandemic raised awareness, and awareness is the first step in making a sale.”