About five years ago, anti-inflammatory products were predicted by some to become a significant category in the dietary supplements sector, but that has not come to pass. Hilton, chief marketing officer for BrandHive, explained that since that time a couple of things happened. “The regulators seemed to say it was OK to claim a healthy inflammatory response, but then they seemed to change track and people couldn’t talk about inflammation at all,” Hilton told NutraIngredients-USA. “And inflammation sort of went underground.”
“The last couple of years it has come back again and I credit turmeric with that. It has opened up the conversation. I walked into a CostCo recently and there, right next to the door, was a curcumin supplement product with an inflammation claim in bold on the front of the packaging.”
Sales of turmeric supplements have grown by double digit figures over the last several years as the science drives consumer understanding and demand. According to data from SPINS provided to NutraIngredients-USA, combined sales in the natural and conventional multi-outlet channels for the 52 weeks ending Oct 4 6th 2015 hit $22 million, up from $15 million for the previous 52 weeks, and significantly up from the $12.2 million figure for 2013.
The list of potential health benefits of the ingredient has also continued to grow, with new studies supporting the potential brain, cardiovascular, joint, and muscle benefits of the ingredient.
Despite the progress, Hilton says he still thinks that consumers have a problem wrapping their heads around low-grade inflammation. “With talk of metabolic syndrome, inflammation keeps getting brought into the conversation as a supporting point, but it’s not the front and center issue for many consumers.
“The messaging has evolved as understanding of metabolic syndrome and oxidative stress has improved. Those are related issues and still somewhat confusing for consumers. I get the impression that marketers are trying to see what sticks in terms of verbiage.
“Inflammation is mostly a Boomer issue, because they can relate to the joint and heart aspects.
Regulatory experts have noted that inflammation claims need to be qualified, linking the inflammatory response to a specific activity like running a marathon.
“It makes more sense to a consumer when you tie it to a specific condition or activity.
“The only area where it could move forward with Millennials is sports nutrition, with products for physical activity, performance and recovery,” he added.
“I do think it’s a fine line for marketers. They are tempted to go a little further with the claims, and it’s a regulatory slippery slope. Having said that, inflammation has matured as a category, and I do think that progress has been made.