Sales of turmeric (Curcuma longa), including standardized extracts with high curcumin levels, grew a whopping 85.5% and exceeded $22 million in mainstream retail outlets, putting it at number 10 in that channel.
In the natural and health food outlets channel, turmeric again took the number one spot, with sales of $47.6 million. This represented a 32% increase from 2015.
“The popularity of turmeric has been increasing steadily in recent years, but consumer interest in this yellow-gold spice spiked in 2016,” noted the report in the American Botanical Council’s HerbalGram journal. “Based on an analysis of search engine queries, Google classified turmeric as the “breakout star” of the functional food movement of the past five years. During that time, Google searches for turmeric increased by 300%.”
Winners and losers
Other herbal supplements with notable growth were: Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), which posted 55.2% growth year-on-year in the natural channel to hit $8.7 million in sales; cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), which experienced 36% and 11.9% growth year-on-year in the natural and mass channels to hit $7.5 million and $74 million in sales, respectively; and Echinacea (Echinacea spp.), which posted 15.1% and 8.4% growth in the mass and natural channels, respectively, to hit a total of $77.4 million in sales.
Another big mover in the mass channel was Boswellia (Boswellia serrata) with 119% year-on-year growth to achieve $13.3 million in sales.
It wasn’t all good news, however, with some herbs posting significant declines in sales from 2015 to 2016, said the report.
Sales of Garcinia (Garcinia gummi-gutta) continued their downward trajectory with sales in the mass channel declining 29.6% to $35 million in 2016 from $55 million in 2015, while sales dropped 4% in the natural channel to $4.7 million. The same herb posted 23% and 48% declines from 2014 to 2015 in the mass and natural channels, respectively (HerbalGram 111).
Green coffee extract (Coffee arabica) and Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) also posted significant declines in the mass channel, with sales of the former declining 41% year-on-year and sales of the latter declining 36.5% year-on-year.
“It appears that US consumers have continued to distance themselves from certain herbs with alleged weight-loss or metabolism-boosting benefits in 2016,” stated the report. “This was reflected in mainstream sales declines for green coffee (Coffea arabica, Rubiaceae) extract (–40.6%), which had the third highest percent sales decrease from 2015; yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis, Aquifoliaceae; –36.5%), which had the fourth highest percent sales decline; and garcinia (Garcinia gummi-gutta, Clusiaceae; –29.6%), which experienced the sixth highest percent sales decline.
“However, in 2016, boosting energy remained the second most common reason for taking supplements, according to CRN’s annual survey. As an alternative to these ingredients, consumers may be turning to a different class of herbs: the adaptogens, which, as discussed later, have been shown to have many effects on the body, including an impact on energy levels.”
Total sales of herbal supplements continued to grow in the US for the 13th consecutive year, said the report, with total US retail sales surpassing $7 billion for the first time, reaching a total of $7.452 billion in 2016. US consumers spent an estimated 7.7% more on herbal dietary supplements in 2016 than in the previous year.
Herbal supplement sales in mainstream US retail outlets in 2016 totaled approximately $943.9 million, according to SPINS and IRI. NBJ, which includes different sources in its dataset, determined a higher total of $1.336 billion in mainstream sales for 2016.
The top selling herbal supplement in the mainstream US retail channel was horehound (Marrubium vulgare), an herb commonly found in natural cough drops and lozenges, ranked first in total mainstream US retail sales for the fourth consecutive year.
“This report documents the consistent growth of consumer demand for natural remedies, as evidenced by the increased sales of herbal dietary supplements,” said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC. “This is indicative of a well-demonstrated, long-term trend toward natural medicine and consumers’ interest in taking responsibility for their own health via the responsible use of herbal medicine as an integral part of self-care.”
The American Botanical Council’s annual market report for herbal supplement sales is based on US retail sales data from SPINS, IRI, and the Nutrition Business Journal. 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 co-authored by HerbalGram’s Tyler Smith, Kimberly Kawa and Veronica Eckl from SPINS, Claire Morton from NBJ, and IRI’s Ryan Stredney.
2017, Issue 115, Pages 56-65
“Herbal Supplement Sales in US Increase 7.7% in 2016 - Consumer preferences shifting toward ingredients with general wellness benefits, driving growth of adaptogens and digestive health products”
Authors: T. Smith, K. Kawa, V. Eckl, C. Morton, R. Stredney