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Herbal Supplement Sales Increase in US in 2008

Large Growth in Mainstream Retail Stores

AUSTIN, Texas, May 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Herbal dietary supplement sales in the United States increased slightly in 2008, reaching a total estimated figure of $4,800,000,000. A recent report published in the nonprofit American Botanical Council's (ABC) quarterly journal HerbalGram, based on data from multiple market research firms, found that total herb supplement sales rose by nearly 1% over 2007 sales.

The HerbalGram report features herb supplement sales statistics from the respected market research firms Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), and SPINS.

NBJ estimated the total herb supplement sales figure for 2008 based on data derived from company surveys, interviews with major retailers and industry experts, and various published and unpublished secondary material.

IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, determined herb supplement sales in the mainstream market channel as being $289,248,200 for 2008, an increase of 7.16% over 2007 mainstream market sales. IRI's figure includes grocery stores, drugstores, and mass market retailers, but it does not include Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, other large warehouse buying clubs, or convenience stores.

SPINS, a Schaumburg, Illinois-based market research firm, found sales of botanical dietary supplements in the natural and health food channel to be $329,148,875, indicating that sales in that market channel remained relatively stable from 2007 sales. SPINS' figure includes estimated sales from the natural foods giant Whole Foods.

Herbal dietary supplements are sold in the United States through a variety of market channels, including mainstream retail stores, health and natural food stores, warehouse and convenience stores, mail order catalogs and Internet sites, radio and television direct sales outlets, companies that sell directly to consumers, health professionals who sell supplements from their offices, and other channels.

The HerbalGram report includes multiple tables illustrating herbal supplement sales according to various channels and categories. One table provides the 20 top-selling herbal supplements in the mainstream channel as determined by IRI, while another supplies the 20 top-selling botanical supplements in the natural and health food 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 health and natural food 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 2008 in the health and natural food channel, according to SPINS, are flaxseed oil (Linum usitatissimum), wheat grass and barley grass (Triticum aestivum and Hordeum vulgare), stevia (Stevia rebaudiana), aloe vera (Aloe vera), and milk thistle (Silybum marianum). The top-selling herbal singles of 2008 in the food, drug, and mass market channel, according to IRI, are cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), soy (Glycine max), garlic (Allium sativum), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), and ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba). These rankings do not include combinations containing multiple herbs.

"Many people believe that herb sales may be somewhat recession-proof," said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC, editor of HerbalGram, and one of the authors of the herb market report. "It is highly likely -- and the sales data support this -- that many consumers, particularly those without health insurance to cover costs of conventional medicines, may be purchasing herbal supplements to help manage some of their health needs."

"There is vast opportunity for innovative herbal products to move outside the category and into the food and beverage universe with the potential of attracting new shopper segments," said Mary Ellen Lynch, SPINS director of consumer insights and a co-author of the herb market report. "For example, the antioxidant turmeric, which continues to grow in the natural channel, has this potential due to its link to multiple health benefits (including cardiovascular/liver/brain health) that align well to the mainstream consumer's growing interest in health and wellness."

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.

About the American Botanical Council

Founded in 1988, the American Botanical Council is a leading international nonprofit organization addressing research and educational issues regarding the health benefits of herbs, medicinal plants, teas, essential oils, and other plant-based ingredients. ABC's members include academic researchers and educators, universities and libraries, health professionals and medical institutions, botanical gardens and arboreta, government agencies, members of the herb, dietary supplement, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries, journalists, consumers, and other interested parties from over 70 countries. The organization occupies a historic 2.5-acre site in Austin, Texas, where it publishes the quarterly journal HerbalGram, the monthly e-publication HerbalEGram, HerbClips (summaries of scientific and clinical publications), reference books, and other educational materials. ABC also hosts HerbMedPro, a powerful herbal database, containing thousands of abstracts of scientific and clinical publications on 221 herbs.

ABC is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. Information: Contact ABC at P.O. Box 144345, Austin, TX 78714-4345, Phone: 512-926-4900. Website:

CONTACT: Lucy Bruno, 1-512-926-4900 x121,

SOURCE American Botanical Council
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