ABC’s annual market report for herbal supplement sales is based on U.S. retail sales data from the Chicago, IL-based market research firms SPINS and IRI, as well as Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), Boulder, CO. The report covers only retail sales of herbal dietary supplements and does not reflect the sales of most herbal teas, botanical ingredients used in cosmetics, or government-approved herbal drug ingredients in over-the-counter medicines.
The report was authored by Tyler Smith, managing editor of HerbalGram; Kimberly Kawa and Veronica Eckl, retail reporting analyst and associate data product manager, respectively, at SPINS; Claire Morton, senior industry analyst at NBJ; and Ryan Stredney, public relations and marketing specialist at IRI.
NBJ based its total herbal supplement sales figures for 2017 on data from market research firms, company surveys, interviews with major retailers, and industry experts, and various published and unpublished secondary materials. SPINS worked with IRI to determine sales of herbal supplements in mainstream retail outlets, which include military commissaries, select buyer’s clubs, and so-called dollar stores. The collaborative SPINS/IRI reporting does not include convenience store sales. The U.S. natural channel, as defined by SPINS, includes sales from co-ops, associations, independent retailers, and large regional chains, but does not include sales from Whole Foods Market.
For the fifth consecutive year, horehound (Marrubium vulgare, Lamiaceae), an herb commonly found in natural cough drops and lozenges, ranked first in total mainstream U.S. retail sales. Turmeric (Curcuma longa, Zingiberaceae) experienced the strongest mainstream sales growth in this channel, with a 46.7% increase in sales from 2016. Turmeric supplements also performed well in the U.S. natural retail channel, where they had the highest overall sales in 2017.
“HerbalGram’s annual herb market report would not be possible without the insight and dedication of our colleagues at SPINS, IRI, and NBJ, who generously provide the data featured in the report each year,” said Mr. Smith, who has co-authored the report since 2014. “Based on our experience, we believe the information will be useful for a wide range of ABC stakeholders and others in the general public, from casual consumers interested in the latest herbal supplement trends to researchers and industry members looking to track the sales of specific ingredients.”
The report includes tables of the 40 top-selling herbs (as primary ingredients in herbal dietary supplements) in the mainstream and natural channels. It also includes a graph and table with total estimated sales of herbal supplements in all channels since 2000 (as determined by NBJ), a table with retail channel definitions, and tables with sales broken down by product type (single-herb vs. combination-herb supplements) and total sales for NBJ’s individual market channels since 2014.
In addition to providing statistics for various herbs, HerbalGram’s annual report highlights larger consumer trends that may be behind some of the notable sales increases and decreases in 2017. As detailed in the report, increased consumer awareness and acceptance of Ayurvedic herbs in the U.S. was likely behind the strong sales of ingredients such as turmeric and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, Solanaceae). Notable sales increases for moringa (Moringa oleifera, Moringaceae), nigella (Nigella sativa, Ranunculaceae), wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum, Poaceae), and barley grass (Hordeum vulgare, Poaceae) were likely related to the growing consumer preference for botanical ingredients with general health and nutrition benefits, often in non-pill forms, such as powders and liquids.
The annual HerbalGram Herb Market Report is available for free, in both PDF and HTML formats, on the ABC website, www.herbalgram.org.