If you need a good compass to navigate the tricky terrain ahead, Liz Sloan's "Up-And-Coming Markets" article (page 36) is a good place to start. For nutraceuticals in particular, there continues to be good news. In fact, Liz opens her article by saying: "Contrary to popular belief, the economic downturn has created an unprecedented 'window of opportunity' for dietary supplement and functional food and beverage marketers by luring cost-weary and drug-wary consumers into the nutraceutical fold. And, if future products and claims are positioned and supported correctly, for the first time in history the nutrition industry will make major inroads into the Rx prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drug sectors."
And Liz is not alone in her rosy analysis. Just in the last month, several market reports indicate similar trends. The International Food Information Council (IFIC), for example, says consumers continue to respond positively to foods that have health benefits. Indeed, its most recent survey shows that a whopping 89% of consumers agree certain foods have benefits that go beyond basic nutrition and may reduce disease risk. This percentage, IFIC says, represents a significant increase from just two years ago. "This year's survey findings show us that Americans are making the connection that foods can play an important role in achieving optimal health," said Elizabeth Rahavi, RD, associate director of wellness at IFIC. "Consumers' awareness of many food and health relationships has reached an all-time high."
Yet another report, this one from Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), showed that the nutrition industry grew almost 9% last year, unlike many other industries, which either stayed flat or experienced severe declines. "While other sectors of the U.S. economy were faltering," NBJ said, "the U.S. nutrition industry continued to grow almost 9% to more than $101 billion in 2008." The market researcher said sales of dietary supplements were particularly resilient last year, as consumers looked to these products to protect their health and ward off more expensive medical visits and prescription drugs.
So for you product formulators and executives out there scrambling to keep up with the trends and evolving consumer segments, keep up the good work. As this market continues to forge ahead gracefully in the midst of one of the worst recessions in recent history, you can rest a little easier these days knowing that your tireless efforts are paying off in the form of consumer acceptance and loyalty. As for me, I look forward to the life lessons I will soon learn as I enter the exclusive club of motherhood. Life seems to be getting richer for all of us right now.