A. Elizabeth Sloan

The U.S. and global dietary supplement industries, with sales of $43 billion and $128 billion, respectively, in 2017, according to the Nutrition Business Journal, have long been the proving ground for identifying new opportunities and ingredients for fortified/functional foods and beverages. Euromonitor reports sales of U.S. fortified/functional foods topped $60 billion in 2018 and projects that global sales will skyrocket from $262 billion in 2018 to $290 billion by 2021.

Three-quarters of consumers use dietary supplements, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s (CRN) 2018 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements. While those aged 55-plus remain the most likely to use supplements, recent growth has been driven by younger adults. Supplement use among those aged 35–54 rose 11% over the past five years. And among supplement users, 83% of those aged 18–34 take a multivitamin, up 8% from the prior year’s survey.

Today’s list of the most used supplements looks far different than it did just a few years ago. Multivitamins head the list; they are taken by 98% of supplement users. Other popular supplements include vitamin D, taken by 38% of users; vitamin C, 30%; calcium, 26%; B-vitamins/B-complex, 26%; protein, 22%; magnesium, 20%; omega-3s, 20%; probiotics, 17%; green tea, 16%; vitamin E, 15%; fiber, 14%; and turmeric, 14%.

Vitamin D, which crossed the $1 billion mark, leads dollar growth among traditional single vitamin sales, followed by vitamin A/carotenoids, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Although calcium and magnesium each remain $1 billion-plus supplement categories, selenium led mineral gains, followed by magnesium and chromium, per Nutrition Business Journal.

Those aged 55-plus are the most likely to take vitamin D (46%), calcium (32%), and magnesium (24%). Millennials are most likely to use protein supplements (36%), vitamin C (33%), fiber (20%), and green tea (16%), per CRN. Among those aged 35–54, B vitamins are most popular.

While one in five adults admits that they don’t think they get enough of their basic vitamins and minerals, even more consumers (30% of Gen Xers, 27% of Millennials, and 24% of adults overall) feel they don’t get enough specialty nutrients, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s 2018 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report.

Probiotics, omega-3s, coenzyme Q10, glucosamine, and melatonin are the largest specialty supplement categories, per Nutrition Business Journal. Melatonin is a supplement superstar; use is up 50% over the past five years, per CRN.

Sales of probiotics supplements are projected to reach $4 billion in 2021, with annual growth of 10% from 2019 to 2021, and sales of omega-3 fish/animal oil supplements are expected to top $1.3 billion, per Nutrition Business Journal.

Cold/flu/immune health, followed by digestive health, heart, bone, joint, and diabetes were the largest condition-specific supplement categories in 2017, per Nutrition Business Journal. Supplements to benefit digestion; sleep; diabetes; liver health; and hair, skin, and nails are among the fastest growing.

Brain health/cognition/alertness topped the list of the largest new opportunities for targeted nutrition products in a 2017 Nutrition Business Journal survey of nutraceutical manufacturers. It was followed by digestive health, healthy aging, weight management, diabetes, immunity, joint health, mood, and heart health.

Multivitamins account for 39% of the ingredients used in vision supplements, followed by lutein, which accounts for 27%. Eye health products are a missed opportunity for food/beverage marketers. Similarly, B vitamins represent nearly half (45%) of total hair, skin, and nails supplement ingredients, per Nutrition Business Journal. Collagen is driving growth in the beauty-from-within category.

With 70% of supplement users exercising regularly and a new demographic of fit consumers driving sports supplements mainstream, it’s not surprising that sports nutrition/energy/weight loss is the largest supplement category. One-third of supplement purchasers use a sports supplement, up from 29% in 2017. Sales of sports nutrition/protein powders reached $5.4 billion in 2018 and are projected to reach $6.5 billion by 2021, according to Nutrition Business Journal. Sports and energy beverages grew 4% to reach $23 billion. Sales of hardcore functional sports drinks topped $800 million and are projected to enjoy sales growth of 15% through 2021, per Nutrition Business Journal.

Herbals and botanicals are the fastest-growing supplement category, taken by 41% of users, up 13% versus five years ago, per CRN. Herbal supplement sales reached an all-time high of just over $8 billion in 2017, up 8.5%, according to American Botanical Council data. Best sellers in mass channels include horehound, echinacea, cranberry, ivy leaf, and turmeric supplements.



Elizabeth SloanA. Elizabeth Sloan, PhD, Contributing Editor
President, Sloan Trends Inc., Escondido, Calif.
[email protected]