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Sales of herbal supplements rose dramatically in drugstores and supermarkets in 1994. According to a report by Towne-Oller, a division of Information Resources, Inc. of New York, herbs were one of the top 10 dollar gainers in the mass market compared to 1993 sales, with a 32% sales increase in drugstores totaling $74.7 million and 41% growth in food stores to $31.9 million. The average growth for both outlets was 35%, totaling $106.7 million in retail sales.

As in 1993, garlic and ginseng dominated the herb category in 1994. Ginseng sales rose to $31.1 million, up 28% from the previous year in drugstores, while garlic sales increased 20% to $26.5 million. Garlic sales grew 40% to $12.9 million in food stores while ginseng leaped 63% to $11.8 million in retail sales.

According to the report, acidophilus was the quickest growing "herbal supplement" in drugstores, skyrocketing 140% to $1.2 million, while food store sales increased 57% to over $475,000. This constitutes a 1.6% dollar share in the herb category in drugstores; 1.5% in food stores. Acidophilus is a beneficial bacteria consumed to help restore proper balance of intestinal flora. Although it is classed as an herbal supplement in this report, few herb experts consider acidophilus an "herb"; it most properly should be classed as a miscellaneous dietary supplement.

The study also included lecithin, bee pollen, and brewer's yeast in the herb class. Lecithin, derived from soy beans, is usually not considered "herbal" -- at least in the traditional herb industry. Bee pollen, gathered from flowers by honeybees and then harvested from hives by beekeepers, is often sold by herb companies.


Herbal Supplement Sales Grow 35% in 1994. The Tan Sheet. Chevy Chase, MD. F-D-C Reports, April 10, 1995.

Highlights & Trends of Health & Beauty Care -- 1994, Towne-Oller, a Subsidiary of Information Resources, Inc.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.