Sales of herbal dietary supplements in the U.S. reached $4.8 billion in 2008, according to a report in HerbalGram, the quarterly journal of the American Botanical Council (ABC).
Data came from multiple market research firms, including Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) and SPINS, which found that total herb supplement sales increased nearly 1% over 2007.
NBJ, Boulder, CO, estimated the total herb supplement sales figure for 2008 based on data derived from company surveys, interviews with major retailers and industry experts and various published and unpublished secondary material.
IRI, a Chicago, IL-based market research firm, estimated herb supplement sales in the mainstream market channel to be about $289 million for 2008, an increase of more than 7% over 2007 mainstream market sales. IRI’s figure includes grocery stores, drugstores and mass market retailers, excluding Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, other large warehouse buying clubs and convenience stores.
SPINS, a Schaumburg, IL-based firm, determined that sales of botanical dietary supplements in the natural and health food channel were about $329 million, indicating that sales in that market channel remained relatively stable from 2007 sales. SPINS’ figure includes estimated sales from Whole Foods.
The five top-selling single herbal supplements of 2008 in the health and natural food channel, according to SPINS, are flaxseed oil (Linum usitatissimum), wheat grass and barley grass (Triticum aestivum and Hordeum vulgare), stevia (Stevia rebaudiana), aloe vera (Aloe vera) and milk thistle (Silybum marianum).
The top-selling herbal singles of 2008 in the food, drug, and mass market channel, according to IRI, are cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), soy (Glycine max), garlic (Allium sativum), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) and ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba). These rankings do not include combinations containing multiple herbs.
“Many people believe that herb sales may be somewhat recession-proof," said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC, editor of HerbalGram, and one of the authors of the report. "It is highly likely—and the sales data support this—that many consumers, particularly those without health insurance to cover costs of conventional medicines, may be purchasing herbal supplements to help manage some of their health needs.”
"There is vast opportunity for innovative herbal products to move outside the category and into the food and beverage universe with the potential of attracting new shopper segments," said Mary Ellen Lynch, SPINS director of consumer insights and a co-author of the report. "For example, the antioxidant turmeric, which continues to grow in the natural channel, has this potential due to its link to multiple health benefits (including cardiovascular/liver/brain health) that align well to the mainstream consumer's growing interest in health and wellness."