In a nutrient marketplace whose competitiveness has ratcheted up in the past 10-20 years as the science and number of ‘non-essential’ healthy offerings from the likes of probiotics to glucosamine has increased, vitamins remain the biggest selling, most sought after nutrients in most markets.
And government initiatives that have seen mandatory fortification of foodstuffs with vitamin B forms, or industry-led initiatives that have seen vitamin A or D become near standard in some dairy products are likely to continue. Especially as health claim affirmations build, analysts say.
This Euromonitor table indicates global sales and shows how vitamins – led by vitamins B and C and multivitamins – are performing well in food supplements with global sales estimated at €20.62bn in 2011, and set to grow to €25.5bn by 2015.
Dietary Supplements (€)
Combination Dietary Supplements
Herbal/Traditional Dietary Supplements
Non-Herbal Dietary Supplements
Other Single Vitamins
[Click 'print' above to see Euromonitor's 2015 projections]
Interest in vitamin fortification of foods remains strong with stand-out performers including vitamins A and D in milk and some yoghurt products (almost industry standard in places like the US) with bone health the key sell.
Vitamins B and C in cereal products and various vitamin cocktails in fortified waters and juices are performing well in many markets usually with wellness or immunity marketing.
The interest in vitamins is being boosted by regulatory shifts that have seen, in the European Union at least, vitamins winning health claims from immunity to brain health to energy, while other nutrients have spectacularly and controversially failed to impress the central EU scientific agency.
Attention to vitamins and minerals
“This state of affairs has definitely brought consumer and manufacturer attention to vitamins and minerals which have also fared well,” said Ewa Hudson, Euromonitor’s head of health and wellness research.
“While it is very different market-to-market, maybe some of those manufacturers favouring functional ingredients will turn to vitamins. The health claims situation could definitely spark a revival for vitamins.”
Hudson highlighted situations like that in the US where vitamin A and D fortification of milk products had become a near industry standard, and said it was possible categories like water could move the same way.
“If you look at ACE waters (fortified with vitamins A, C and E), these have grown from $1.2bn to $2.5bn between 2006 and 2010. Biscuits are another category with potential as they are relatively inexpensive and can appeal to those on lower incomes.”
“These categories may also become more attractive as milk sales fall with less people eating traditional breakfasts and looking for other fortified items.”
Euromonitor figures show western European milk consumption has dropped from €19.9bn in 2008 to €19.2bn in 2010.
The ACE-style beverage products were growing particularly quickly in emerging markets like Poland, Mexico and Malaysia.
In Europe, with a raft of vitamin and mineral health claims, about to enter the EU’s official claims register, the practice of adding backed nutrients to products to win claims had begun with some ingredient suppliers offering probiotic-vitamin blends to make immunity claims for example.
A Danone Actimel version in Austria had been fortified with potent vitamin C source, acerola, giving it access to the kind of claims which can be found here.
Jonathan Shorts, the managing director of UK supplier, Gee Lawson said the EU health claim situation had altered perceptions of the nutrients market.
“As companies are realising they are not going to be able to say certain things about certain nutrients, the appeal of vitamins has risen,” he said. “We have seen a general increase in their use.”
But he said it was not so simple to gauge the market effect of negative health claim opinions that exist for other nutrients, especially before they enter the register of rejected claims, and the distorting effect of a recessed economy.
Hudson observed that the products that could reap the most benefit from claims were those like bone, heart health or beauty from within products where it was more difficult to ‘feel the benefit’ than products like probiotics where any changes in, say, gut health, could be felt almost immediately.