Sales in the mainstream market channel (e.g., drugstores, etc.) experienced particularly strong growth, increasing more than 14% over 2008 sales. “This news is really remarkable,” said HerbalGram editor Mark Blumenthal. “In the most economically difficult market in over 70 years, when almost all consumer goods experienced a drop in sales, consumers voted strongly with scarcer dollars for herbal dietary supplements.”
The HerbalGram report is based on herb supplement sales statistics from market research firms SymphonyIRI Group, Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), and SPINS. NBJ estimated the total herb supplement sales figure for 2009 based on data derived from company surveys, interviews with major retailers and industry experts, and various published and unpublished secondary material.
SymphonyIRI, a Chicago, IL-based market research firm, determined herb supplement sales in the mainstream market channel as being $336 million for 2009, an increase of more than 14% over the previous year. “The 14% growth spurt is the largest sales increase in the mainstream market in recent memory,” said Mr. Blumenthal, who is also the founder and executive director of ABC. SymphonyIRI’s figure includes grocery stores, drugstores and mass market retailers, but it does not include Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, other large warehouse buying clubs or convenience stores.
SPINS, a Schaumburg, IL-based market research firm, found sales of botanical dietary supplements in the natural and health foods channel to be nearly $250 million, an increase of 4.5% over 2008 sales in this channel. The SPINS figure does not include sales from the natural foods store Whole Foods Markets.
In addition to the mainstream market and the natural and health foods channel, herbal dietary supplements are sold in the U.S. through mail order catalogs and Internet sites, radio and television direct sales outlets, multilevel marketing firms that sell directly to the consumer, health professionals who sell supplements from their offices and various other channels.
The five top-selling single herbal supplements of 2009 in the health and natural foods channel, according to SPINS, were aloe (Aloe vera), flaxseed oil (Linum usitatissimum), wheat grass and barley grass (Triticum aestivum and Hordeum vulgare), acai (Euterpe oleracea) and turmeric (Curcuma longa). The top-selling herbal singles of 2009 in the food, drug and mass market channel, according to SymphonyIRI, were cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), soy (Glycine max), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), garlic (Allium sativum) and echinacea (Echinacea spp.). These rankings do not include combinations containing multiple herbs.