Sales of herbal dietary supplements in the United States climbed three per cent last year to reach more than $5.2bn, according to a report published in the latest issue of HerbalGram, the quarterly journal of the American Botanical Council.
Sales in the mainstream market channel, including drugstores and grocery stores, rose 6.6 per cent last year to reach an estimated $936m.
Sales in the natural and health foods channel grew by about 2 per cent in 2010 to $1.663bn.
The five top-selling single herbal supplements in the natural and health foods channel last year were:
- Flaxseed and/or oil (Linum usitatissimum)
- Grass (wheat or barley; Triticum aestivum or Hordeum vulgare, respectively)
- Aloe (Aloe vera)
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
- Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana).
The best performing single herbal supplements were identified by market research organization SPINS.
The top-selling herbal singles in the food, drug, and mass-market channel, according to IRI, were:
- Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
- Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)
- Soy (Glycine max)
- Garlic (Allium sativum)
- Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba).
HerbalGram’s Mark Blumenthal said: "Despite the general economic turndown, consumers continue to demonstrate their interest in and demand for natural ways to improve their health.
"These 2010 sales increase for herbal supplements tracks with strong demand in 2009, where the sales increased 4.8% over the previous year, even during the depths of the recession."
Last year’s rise in sales followed growth seen in nine of the past 11 years.
The biggest change in herb sales between 2010 and 2009 reflected diminishing concern about a H1N1 flu virus. “Thus the spikes in sales in herbs that are perceived to be useful to prevent or treat symptoms of any type of flu based on traditional use and/or modern research did not occur,” according to the report.
“The sharp increases in 2009 sales for echinacea and elderberry supplements, for example did not continue in 2010. These two herbs experienced a predictable drop in sales as they reset to levels that would be consistent prior to H1N1 concerns.”
Direct sales outlets
Besides the mainstream market and the natural and health foods channel, herbal dietary supplements are sold in the United States through mail order catalogs and internet sites, radio and television direct sales outlets, multi-level marketing firms that sell directly to the consumer, health professionals who sell supplements from their offices, and other channels.
The report was based on herb supplement sales statistics from market research organizations Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), SPINS, and SymphonyIRI.
Herb supplement sales for last year were based on information from company surveys, interviews with major retailers and industry experts, and published and unpublished secondary material.