The match between bad planning and strong supplement sales in the past year was eerily close. In the 2020 Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) Global Supplement Business Report, we noted when a country bungled the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of dietary supplements spiked. Where competence reigned during the contagion, sales growth was strong, but not spectacular.
Now, we are watching the sequel to that scenario and bad news still means good sales. With the Omicron variant well on its way to becoming the dominant strain in many parts of the world—already so in the UK and Denmark—and spreading at faster rates than prior variants, NBJ expects a continued surge for the supplement industry.
How that will play out in the 2022 market remains to be seen and wasn’t directly accounted for in this year’s Global Supplement Business Report, published in September of 2021. Still, what the report does predict is a world where neither COVID nor supplements can be viewed as temporary phenomena. While outbreak spikes will continue to trigger sales spikes, the latter will settle into smoother lines as both the threat of illness and the promise supplements become part of daily life for a wider swath of consumers.
In the 2021 Global Supplement Business Report, NBJ found growth across all markets was slightly lower than 2020’s 11% to the more modest and roughly normal 5.9%, but from a significantly larger base. That 11% growth came from US$142.47 billion, while growth in 2021 builds off $158.21 billion. That “modest” 5.9% NBJ projects for 2021 would add $9.27 billion to the global markets.
The global numbers, of course, hinge largely on U.S. sales. Driven by the historic 14.5% sales spike, domestic sales accounted for 35.2% of the 2020 global supplement market, the largest share since NBJ began tracking in 1999. But with China’s share of the market now pushing that same growth, at 14.3%, that market packs increasing significance (China passed Western Europe in market share in 2016). NBJ projects China supplement sales growth to drop back to 7.1% in 2021, from the 7.5% charted for 2020, but that’s significantly better than the 4.9% seen in 2019.
Western Europe, a $19.05 billion market in NBJ’s 2020 estimates, saw responses to the pandemic vary across borders and didn’t experience the sales spike the American market witnessed in 2020, and the falloff for 2021 is modest as a result. In 2020, supplement sales growth hit 7.4%, and in 2021, NBJ projects 4.2% for 2021, the lower number an improvement over the growth rate estimates in the years leading up to the pandemic.
NBJ is also offering predictions for 2022:
- NBJ estimates 3.8% growth in the global supplement market, to $173.92 billion.
- The U.S. will continue to dominate the global consumer market, with predicted 3.2% growth to $60.57 billion. That’s low growth, but don’t be fooled. It’s still nearly $2 billion added to a market that, in 2021, is already $10 billion larger than it was in 2019. Admittedly, however, this growth estimate may still be conservative.
- China is estimated to match the overall global growth figure of 3.8% in 2022, bringing it to $25.18 billion.
- Europe and Russia are expected to grow to $30.50 billion in 2022.
- Growth leaders for 2022 are Middle East at 7%, Africa at 6.8%, Latin America at 6.2% and India at 5.3%.
- The combined Sports Nutrition, Meal, Homeopathic and Specialty Supplement category leads in market growth, with an estimated 4.8% growth in 2022, adding $2.80 billion. That conglomeration of categories can be misleading. Herbs and Botanicals remains the single category to watch with 4.0% growth estimated for 2022, bringing it to $45.37 billion.
Bill Giebler is the content & insights director at Nutrition Business Journal. He is an award-winning writer and natural products industry veteran with decades of experience in food and supplement retail, lifestyle mail order and organic textiles product development.