Sales of these supplements in the mass channels* and natural channels** totaled almost $400 million from January to July 2020, compared with $294 million for the same previous period in 2019, equivalent to 35.7% growth (see charts below).
The vast majority of the growth was in the sleep category, which overall grew 43% year-on-year to reach $48.6 million in sales for January to July, according to data provided by SPINS. “Melatonin is by far the top functional ingredient for sleep,” SPINS told us.
Sales of mood support products, which SPINS defines as supplements designed for anxiety, depression, and stress, and/or marketed for mood or stress support, are also up by about 9.6% year-on-year for the first seven months of 2020. This category posted 32% growth in March compared to the same four weeks in 2019, as consumers rushed to stock up on these formulations. Unsurprisingly, sales in April and May declined sharply (-5.7% and -3.2% YoY, respectively) before getting back into positive territory in June and July (YoY growth for July was 13%).
Word on the street
The SPINS numbers back up what we’ve been hearing from multiple industry stakeholders. Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA last week, Andrew Laudato, Chief Operating Office for The Vitamin Shoppe, told us that sleep and stress products were two of the key categories experiencing growth in recent months, along with immunity, foundational health and sports nutrition.
In addition, Dan Richard, VP of global sales and marketing for NOW, told us that the company has seen “increased demand for some of our adaptogens and mood support products.”
“Overall adaptogen sales are running almost double from last year,” said Beth Lambert, CEO of Herbalist & Alchemist. “March, April and May were extraordinary months for both forms of our Immune Adapt formulas, liquid and caps, with sales at multiple levels of their recent history.
“Sales did not remain at those levels in June and July but are still 50% higher than last year at the same time,” added Lambert. “May and June saw a surge in sales of Calm Adapt and Daily Adapt. Daily Adapt is ahead of last year, but Calm Adapt is maintaining an almost 50% growth rate over the same period last year.
“Phytocalm sales are up close to 50 % and Serenity Compound is up nearly 20%,” added Lambert.
Asked whether consumers really understand adaptogens, and how they work, Lambert said, “I think the mainstream consumer just knows adaptogens are good to take when stress may be making your body vulnerable.
“Our customers are practitioners, retailers and relatively well-informed consumers, so they have a fairly good understanding of adaptogens. They know that H&A founder David Winston RH(AHG), who formulates our products, is one of the world’s foremost herbalist experts on Adaptogens, and he provides a lot of information explaining what the herbs in his formulas do and why.”
On the ingredient supply side, Shaheen Majeed, President Worldwide, Sabinsa, said his company has seen a rise in adaptogens, “without a doubt”.
“Modern life is always stressful, but currently it seems that everyone’s stress levels are at an all-time high. Stress is uncomfortable, and also undermines immune function, so more consumers are turning to adaptogens to cope and stay healthy,” he said.
Leading the adaptogen pack is Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), an Ayuverdic herb that has been gaining traction in the mainstream US market over recent years for its range of health benefits.
Majeed explained that this herb has been used for mood support and to treat anxiety since ancient times. “It has anxiolytic activity, relieving stress and anxiety and is an immunomodulator, which can help in mood swings,” he added.
Majeed confirmed that this Ayuverdic herb is experiencing high sales growth, but cautioned that such demand attracts unsavory actors to the category.
“When sales rise rapidly an herb is more subject to adulteration, so Sabinsa built in some protection for its customers with Shagandha Ashwagandha Root Extract 2.5% USP from Withania somnifera, assured to comply with the U.S. Pharmacopoeia-National Formulary (USP-NF) monograph,” said Majeed. “Botanical specialist Alkemist Labs tested the ingredient to confirm that it meets the USP monograph.”
* SPINS definitions for mass channel: The Conventional Multi-Outlet Channel (powered by IRI) covers the Grocery Outlet (store with $2M+ annual ACV), the Drug Outlet (chains and independent stores, excluding Rx sales), and selected retailers across Mass Merchandisers, including Walmart, Club, Dollar, and Military representing over 105,000 retail locations.
** SPINS’ Natural Enhanced Channel is composed of full-format stores with $2 million+ in annual sales and 40% or more of UPC coded sales from natural/organic/specialty products. It Includes co-ops, associations, independents, and large regional chains (excludes Whole Foods & Trader Joes).