US glucosamine grows slow, lags global sales

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Glucosamine, Chondroitin sulfate

Glucosamine supplements in the US have steadily grown in popularity over the past five years, although the market still lags behind overall global sales increases, reveals new data.

According to figures provided by Euromonitor International, US sales of the joint health supplements have increased 3 percent per year since 2003, whereas worldwide year-on-year sales increased 10 percent.

Glucosamine, which is primarily derived from shellfish, has been shown to help rebuild and repair human cartilage, and is used as a base ingredient in joint health dietary supplements. It is often used in conjunction with chondroitin, which gives cartilage elasticity.

Sales of glucosamine supplements (in the non-herbal category) in the US reached $872m last year, a 16 percent increase on sales of $753 recorded in 2003.

In comparison, global sales stood at almost $2bn last year, which represents a massive 62 percent increase since 2003, when sales came in at $1.2bn

The data provided to NutraIngredients-USA.com reveals a forecast of continued growth through 2013. However, the US market will likely slow more, growing only 2 percent in the five year period to reach $891m.

The global market, on the other hand, is expected to increase around 14 percent in the next five years, with sales reaching $2.3bn.

Benefits and awareness

The joint health benefits of glucosamine have been reported in numerous clinical trials, most notably the Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT), sponsored by the National Institute of Health.

This studied the effect of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplements on 1583 people with osteoarthritis and found that the combination supplement was highly efficacious in reducing moderate-to-severe osteoarthritis pain (New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 354, pp. 795-808).

The scientific backing has prompted a growth in consumer awareness of the ingredient’s benefits, which in turn has led the industry to expand the category. Two major developments in the glucosamine market over the past few years are that the ingredient has turned vegetarian, and it has also started appearing in foods and beverages.

Category expansion

Shellfish-derived glucosamine is not suitable for vegetarians, people with shellfish allergies or those who adhere to a kosher diet.

As a result, a number of vegetarian sources of glucosamine have started to appear on the market, including Cargill's Regenasure, derived from the fungus Aspergillus niger, and Cyanotech's JointAstin.

DNP International also launched a vegetarian glucosamine at the end of 2007, as did China-based Hygieia Health in January last year. Ethical Naturals also launched its GreenGrown vegetarian glucosamine at the end of January last year.

As the market for glucosamine continues to expand, ingredient manufacturers have increasingly been promoting the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status of their glucosamine ingredients, opening up a new category for the products. For example, Minneapolis-based Cargill received GRAS status for Regenasure in March 2007.

Related topics: Markets, Bone & joint health

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