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US Sales of Herbal Supplements Increase by 7.7% in 2016

Total retail sales surpass $7 billion in 2016, the 13th consecutive year of sales growth

AUSTIN, Texas (September 7, 2017) — Consumers in the United States spent an estimated 7.7% more on herbal dietary supplements in 2016 than in the previous year, according to the recently published HerbalGram Herb Market Report for 2016. The report, which appears in issue 115 of the American Botanical Council’s (ABC’s) quarterly, peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram, shows strong, continued growth for these products, with total US retail sales surpassing $7 billion for the first time, reaching a total of $7.452 billion in 2016.

ABC’s annual market report for herbal supplement sales is based on US retail sales data from the Chicago, Illinois-based market research firms SPINS and IRI, as well as Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), a publication of Informa/New Hope Natural Media based in Boulder, Colorado. 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 Tyler Smith, managing editor of HerbalGram; Kimberly Kawa and Veronica Eckl, senior nutritionist and senior natural products researcher, respectively, at SPINS; Claire Morton, senior industry analyst at NBJ; and Ryan Stredney, public relations and marketing specialist at IRI.

NBJ based its total herbal supplement sales figures for 2016 on data from market research firms, company surveys, interviews with major retailers and industry experts, and various published and unpublished secondary material. SPINS worked with IRI to determine sales of herbal supplements in mainstream retail outlets, which include military commissaries, select buyer’s clubs, and so-called dollar stores. The collaborative SPINS/IRI reporting does not include convenience store sales.

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. 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. Wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum) and barley (Hordeum vulgare) in combination experienced the strongest mainstream sales growth in 2016, with a 131.9% increase in sales from the previous 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.”

HerbalGram’s market report also details the top-selling and fastest-growing herbal ingredients in US natural and health food outlets in 2016. Natural product trends that may help explain some of the largest percentage sales increases for particular herbs are also discussed as. The report explores the increasing consumer familiarity with Ayurvedic ingredients, the rise of adaptogenic herbs, shifting preferences toward supplements that support overall health and wellness, and the growth of herbal products with bitter properties and digestive health benefits.

The report includes a detailed table of the 40 top-selling herbs (as primary ingredients in herbal dietary supplements) in the mainstream channel, and a table of the 40 top-selling botanicals in the natural channel. It also includes a graph and table with total estimated sales of herbal supplements in all channels since 2000 (as determined by NBJ), a table with retail channel definitions, and tables with sales broken down by product type (single-herb vs. combination-herb supplements) and total sales for NBJ’s individual market channels. 

The annual HerbalGram Herb Market Report is available for free, in both PDF and HTML versions, on the ABC website.