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New Market Report Shows Consumer Demand Grows for Herbal Supplements in Difficult Economy

(Austin, Texas) May 19, 2011. Sales of herbal dietary supplements in the United States increased by 3.3 percent in 2010, reaching a total estimated figure of more than 5.2 billion dollars. The statistics are conclusions of a new report published in the current issue of HerbalGram, the nonprofit American Botanical Council’s (ABC) quarterly journal.

The HerbalGram report is based on herb supplement sales statistics from market research organizations Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), SPINS, and SymphonyIRI. NBJ estimated the total herb supplement sales figure for 2010 based on data derived from company surveys, interviews with major retailers and industry experts, and various published and unpublished secondary material.

NBJ estimated that sales in the mainstream market channel (e.g., drugstores, grocery stores, etc.) experienced steady growth, increasing 6.6 percent in 2010 over 2009 sales to a level of a total estimated $936 million. Sales in the natural and health foods channel grew by about 2 percent in 2010 to $1.663 billion.

"Despite the general economic turndown, consumers continue to demonstrate their interest in and demand for natural ways to improve their health," said HerbalGram Editor Mark Blumenthal. "These 2010 sales increases 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."

In addition to 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 various other channels.

The HerbalGram report includes multiple tables illustrating herbal supplement sales, including a table of the 20 top-selling herbal supplements in the mainstream channel as determined by IRI, and a table of the 20 top-selling botanical supplements in the natural and health foods channel as determined by SPINS. The 20 top-selling herbal supplements of each channel are different, both due to different tastes and values of shoppers in natural and health foods stores versus those in mainstream stores, and because IRI and SPINS do not include the same herbal supplements in their data sets.

The 5 top-selling single herbal supplements of 2010 in the natural and health foods channel, according to SPINS, were flaxseed and/or oil (Linum usitatissimum), grass (wheat or barley; Triticum aestivum or Hordeum vulgare, respectively), aloe (Aloe vera), turmeric (Curcuma longa), and stevia (Stevia rebaudiana). The top-selling herbal singles of 2010 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), and ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba). These rankings do not include combinations containing multiple herbs.

HerbalGram, a peer-reviewed publication, is available at some bookstores and natural food stores and is mailed to members of ABC. The market report article is posted on the ABC website, accessible here.