2021 Dietary supplement and natural product industry outlook: Insights from Nutritional Outlook’s Editorial Advisory Board

Nutritional OutlookNutritional Outlook Vol. 24 No. 1
Volume 24
Issue 1

Predictions from Nutritional Outlook's esteemed Editorial Advisory Board.

2021 Dietary supplement and natural product industry outlook: Insights from Nutritional Outlook’s Editorial Advisory Board

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Nutritional Outlook checked in with some of our esteemed Editorial Advisory Board members about key issues and trends to keep an eye on in 2021.

What are your biggest concerns for the dietary supplement and natural products industries in 2021?

Kevin M. Bell

Kevin M. Bell

Kevin M. Bell
Arnall Golden Gregory LLP

One of my primary concerns continues to revolve around FDA’s failure, and apparent refusal, to properly enforce against adulterated products for which a New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) notification is necessary. The defiance by FDA to enforce the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) is a real problem, and industry needs to demand better from FDA’s Office of Dietary Supplement Programs (ODSP).

A second concern is FDA’s ongoing delay in issuing meaningful guidance regarding cannabidiol (CBD). Industry wants to know how it should proceed in developing and launching safe products in an exploding market segment, without fear of inconsistent and unexpected regulatory oversight.

Judy Blatman

Judy Blatman

Judy Blatman
Judy Blatman Communications LLC

Rogue players. As someone who spent more than 15 years working as a communications leader in the dietary supplement industry and now is involved as an industry consultant and a contributing writer for Nutritional Outlook, my biggest concern then, and now, is the threat posed by companies illegally selling drugs masquerading as dietary supplements. Although the consumer media coverage of this issue seems to have waned in recent years, the problem still exists. In mid-December, FDA issued a groundhog-like consumer warning citing close to 50 male-enhancement and weight-loss products sold on Amazon and eBay that the agency says contained undeclared active pharmaceutical ingredients. This is dangerous for consumers, which in turn is problematic for the supplement industry.

Kudos to those companies and industry leaders who continue to look for ways to separate the rule followers from the rule breakers, and who seek meaningful self-regulatory programs coupled with support for government regulatory actions. But I’m concerned that one of the first rules in effective communication is to get ahead of the crisis, and the industry is just not there yet. I can’t help but think about the cliched fact that one bad apple really can spoil the bunch.

Lisa C. Buono

Lisa C. Buono

Lisa C. Buono
Principal, Client Insights
IRI Worldwide

Supply and supply chain adjustments, shelf assortment (pressure to drop the slow movers, often niche items, in favor of what consumers are looking for today), and forecasting consumer demand for immune-support items.

John R. Endres, ND

John R. Endres, ND

John R. Endres, ND
Chief Science Officer
AIBMR Life Sciences Inc.

I am concerned about the continuing uncertainty of the position of Congress and the regulatory authorities with respect to CBD as well as hemp that naturally contains CBD and extracts thereof. There are far too many products that continue to be sold without proper regulatory status (e.g., independent conclusions of Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status or NDI notifications filed with FDA’s ODSP). I believe this is one of the greatest challenges facing the natural products industry in the U.S.

Daniel Fabricant, PhD

Daniel Fabricant, PhD

Daniel Fabricant, PhD
Executive Director and CEO
Natural Products Association

I think that in an environment like this where it’s so stressful, I think there’s decision fatigue. I think people, 1) they’re isolated, and 2) they’re constantly making tough decisions, and so that can fatigue people. And I think being aware of that, guarding against that, and making sure that we’re strong on all fronts is critical—making sure that even though I’m doing all I can to keep my facility open, I still need to stay involved in what’s going on in state, local, federal government. Those are the things I think we need to keep a close eye on and where we need to remain vigilant.

Douglas “Duffy” MacKay, ND

Douglas “Duffy” MacKay, ND

Douglas “Duffy” MacKay, ND
Senior Vice President, Scientific & Regulatory Affairs
CV Sciences Inc.

We are on the brink of significant regulatory changes in the dietary supplement industry, and my biggest concern is that key industry stakeholders will not align with critical issues. Being divided as an industry makes us vulnerable to the possibility that organizations that are adversarial toward supplements, such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), will be in position to unduly influence future supplement legislation.

We have four to seven dietary supplement trade associations, depending on how you count, who all disagree on significant issues like an FDA mandatory product listing, regulating CBD, or developing a master file. Now we have new problems—like FDA developing a new, prohibited act and changing import and seizure provision—to contemplate. Industry stakeholders need to work on alignment, or divided we fall.

Irfan Qureshi, ND

Irfan Qureshi, ND

Irfan Qureshi, ND
Vice President, Product Development & Quality Assurance
Healthy Directions

While 2020 was a difficult year with the pandemic, a toughly contested U.S. election, and depressed domestic and international travel, it was a banner year for many in the dietary supplement industry. These challenges opened up unique opportunities to those companies who had the ability to pivot towards offering products in several key benefit areas, first among them being immune health. Related categories such as sleep, mood, and stress also saw significant upticks in interest. The coming year should continue to see sustained consumer interest in these categories; however, the industry will need to show its resilience in a few areas. Supply of ingredients and packaging components was tight in 2020, and those supply chains will need to be improved in 2021 to see maintained success. Furthermore, from March to May 2020, just about any ingredient in the immune category was flying off shelves. Going forward, savvy consumers will have the ability and wherewithal to focus on those that have more robust substantiation and science, and it will be these ingredients that rise to the top. Another challenge will be the growing importance and reliance of many brands on Amazon as an online channel for dietary supplements. There are already signs that, because of pressure on multiple fronts, Amazon is cracking down on lower-quality supplements. While this is a good thing, quality brands need to be ready to navigate the challenges and inconsistencies associated with selling on Amazon. So, while there are plenty of opportunities for the right players to continue to prosper, 2021 is certain to bring some tough headwinds as well.

Harry B. Rice, PhD

Harry B. Rice, PhD

Harry B. Rice, PhD
Vice President, Regulatory & Scientific Affairs
Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED)

There is always a concern that consumers’ opinions will be influenced by the most recently reported research and not by a critical evaluation of the entire body of scientific evidence for a particular substance and outcome(s). While this phenomenon is not specific to omega-3s, the omega-3 industry addresses this issue all too often. Fortunately, GOED published a meta-analysis late last year that looked at data from the complete body of scientific evidence linking increases in omega-3 intake to positive cardiovascular outcomes. Specifically, the meta-analysis found that EPA/DHA supplementation is associated with statistically significant reductions in fatal myocardial infarction (35%), myocardial infarction (13%), coronary heart disease events (10%), and coronary heart disease mortality (9%). Furthermore, the protective effect increased with dosage. An additional 1 g/day of EPA+DHA resulted in an additional statistically significant reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease events (5.8%) and myocardial infarction (9.0%).

Despite these robust findings, last November, a number of omega-3 trials with neutral results were presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions, and this of course attracted consumer media coverage. What’s important is that the reported results are not viewed in isolation and used to draw unsubstantiated conclusions.

Among the results presented were those from STRENGTH (the Outcomes Study to Assess STatin Residual Risk Reduction With EpaNova in HiGh CV Risk PatienTs With Hypertriglyceridemia) and OMEMI (OMega-3 fatty acids in Elderly with Myocardial Infarction).

STRENGTH was discontinued in early 2020 due to a low likelihood of demonstrating a benefit, and the reported results confirmed this. While GOED, like many others, remains baffled by the absence of a benefit from the high-dose omega-3 used, the conclusion that omega-3s provide no cardiovascular benefit is far from substantiated.

The objective of OMEMI was to determine if elderly individuals benefit from additional omega-3s after a heart attack. While the results from this well-executed investigation were neutral, given that the population studied—Norwegians—consume fish regularly, as well as cod liver oil (20% of subjects across both the treatment and placebo groups took cod liver oil throughout the study), they were not alarming. As reported in the publication, the baseline omega-3 levels of all subjects were high, and while omega-3 levels increased even further during treatment, the omega-3 levels were likely high enough at baseline that the additional omega-3s provided no discernible benefit. Had the study been conducted in a population with a low omega-3 baseline, the results could have been very different. Thus said, GOED finds no reason why the results should suggest that anyone should stop taking omega-3s.

Kantha Shelke, PhD, CFS

Kantha Shelke, PhD, CFS

Kantha Shelke, PhD, CFS
Principal, Corvus Blue LLC/
Senior Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University

The 2020 pandemic altered the course of practically everything that matters for the health and wellness of individuals and communities. Well-being and immunity became front of mind, and people from all demographics and everywhere reached out to food and dietary supplements as a viable way to bolster immunity and prevent disease. This is both good news and bad. Good, because of the focus on food and dietary supplements as a viable solution. Bad, because it will also mean shady characters poised to take advantage of the vulnerable. This is my greatest concern for the industry in 2021.

Paula Simpson, BSc, RNCP

Paula Simpson, BSc, RNCP

Paula Simpson, BSc, RNCP

I think issues around sustainability and microbiome health are potentially two areas of concern in 2021. Also, the rush to get products to market in response to the pandemic may hamper the due diligence that would normally be done throughout the product development process.

John E. Villafranco

John E. Villafranco

John E. Villafranco
Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

Fear of what is unknown. We could see an update to the FDA’s Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) and with it a change to the agency’s authority over dietary supplements.

Brian Wommack

Brian Wommack

Brian Wommack
Senior Vice President, Communications
Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN)

As the industry continues to develop in 2021, it is important that we speak with one voice—to the public, to FDA, and to Congress. Having several voices saying different things leaves consumers, retailers, and other industry stakeholders confused and risks derailing growth.

For instance, harmonizing third-party certification standards will be critical in 2021 as the current patchwork of retailer certifications can get complicated and difficult for manufacturers to keep up with varying schemes. CRN remains focused on supporting industry in adopting a single certification standard and continues to work with groups like the Global Retailer and Manufacturer Alliance (GRMA) to harmonize auditing standards to help create consistency for all industry players.

What positive developments do you think the dietary supplement and natural products industries could see in 2021?

Kevin Bell: I think 2020 went a long way in cementing the importance of dietary supplements in supporting a healthy immune system. People talk about supplements in a much more positive way than at any time in history. Consumer buy-in on the benefits of supplements will continue to have a significant impact on the industry in 2021.

The cannabis/CBD market will continue to evolve with more and better science. Innovation and intellectual property will increase as the market matures and becomes even more sophisticated.

Judy Blatman: Right now, it’s hard to see beyond the coronavirus, but hopefully that day is coming soon. Will we remember the lesson the pandemic taught us about our health—how fragile it can be, and how important it is to be proactive in the choices we make when it comes to trying to stay healthy? For the supplement industry, the strong hope is that the parts of the industry that were hardest hit, like sports supplements, will rebound and that those segments that gained traction, like immunity-support supplements, will continue to enjoy growth and drive interest in the entire supplements category. The pandemic led people to be herbals-curious, to try new ingredients and supplements they might previously not have taken a second look at, and I’m intrigued to see if that will stick in 2021.

All businesses, obviously not just the supplement industry, were held hostage, literally house-hostage, by the pandemic. Everyone I talk to in the industry can’t wait to be able to get back to mojitos and margueritas sandwiched between trade show booth hopping and in-person conference presentations. What I’m not so sure about is if business as usual will include a return to the office environment. While people seem to be itching now to surround the water cooler with their coworkers, I’m not so sure whether that novelty will wear off after the first week. Working remotely was already gaining traction before the pandemic. Will office employees who claim they’re ready to get back into the office really want to leave their newly pandemic-adopted pets home alone?

Lisa Buono: While we are already starting to see some consumers cut back in their consumption of vitamin C and other items that they jumped to take immediately post the pandemic peak in March 2020, we are hoping that some of this behavior—that is, to shore up and support one’s immune system and in general to take better care of ourselves and our health—will persist and become the norm. The more that consumers take personal responsibility for their health, the more supplements are likely to benefit.

John Endres: Again, I would say to establish a proper regulatory status for hemp-derived products containing CBD as well as other minor cannabinoids.

Daniel Fabricant: Clearly, with the way sales are right now, clearly this is the backbone, or part of the backbone, of how the nation stays healthy. Our industry is a big part of that. So why aren’t we in discussions on healthcare? Why aren’t there incentives to help keep people healthy? Things like FSAs, HSAs—really, it’s a no-brainer at this point. Why isn’t there reimbursement? If you’re somebody who takes vitamin D, we’re going to let you use your Medicare, Medicaid, your health reimbursements accounts, your health savings account, to continue to take vitamin D. Because we know if you don’t take vitamin D, your risk goes up that much more. I think those are the discussions that there’s a great opportunity for positive dialogue around going forward in 2021.

Duffy MacKay: Assuming there is significant progress in managing COVID, it will be amazing for the industry to resume doing business in person. The dietary supplement industry has become immense, but there is still an undercurrent of deep community with a shared goal to improve people’s health and the planet.

Getting facetime with friends, competitors, and business partners at industry events has immeasurable benefits. We’ve managed to function by using communication platforms like Zoom and Teams, but we know we thrive when we can shake hands, hug, and break bread.

Kantha Shelke: Although the 2020 pandemic was a reset button for dietary supplements, food, and allied sectors, there will be no return to normal. The status quo was not very flattering in the first place. The pandemic has given the industry a way to forge ahead with integrity and innovation.

Paula Simpson: With preventative health being top of mind these days, the natural health industry has the opportunity to expand its educational platform to a larger and more attentive audience. Education will be a key driver to sustain this new demographic.

Brian Tanzer, MS

Brian Tanzer, MS

Brian Tanzer, MS
Manager of Scientific Affairs
The Vitamin Shoppe Inc.

I think 2020 was a wake-up call for those people who may not have made their health a priority. What we learned was that those with underlying health conditions, many of which are lifestyle-related, were at greater risk of becoming very sick and/or dying from coronavirus. We’ve seen a surge in people seeking out supplements to support their immune system, particularly vitamins C and D as well as zinc. During the pandemic, there was even a sharp increase in the number of physicians who were suggesting nutritional supplements to their patients as more and more data began to make headlines about their importance. I believe this trend will continue through 2021 as we will continue to fight this disease as the vaccines work their way through the population as we hope to achieve herd immunity. I believe it is our industry’s responsibility to continue to educate people on the importance of lifestyle factors that can impact their immune health and overall health and wellness. These factors include healthy eating, daily exercise, proper sleep, and the right dietary supplements.

John Villafranco: FDA, in its 2020 and 2021 budget requests to Congress, has called for the creation of a mandatory listing for dietary supplements that would “require all products marketed as ‘dietary supplements’ to be listed with FDA and give FDA authority to act against noncompliant products and the manufacturers and/or distributors of such products.” While many in the industry have balked, such a listing could have positive effects. It would allow FDA to identify and act against dangerous or otherwise illegal products, which I believe will improve the overall credibility to the advantage of responsible supplement manufacturers and marketers.

Brian Wommack: For the majority of Americans, the pandemic has continued to serve as a reminder to take better care of their overall health. It is likely that we will see the norming of certain health behaviors consumers started or enhanced during the pandemic in 2021. For instance, those who started a supplement routine are likely to keep it, take products more regularly, or expand their regimen. In 2020, we saw this behavior illustrated in data from CRN’s COVID-19 Consumer Survey. Results revealed that 43% of supplement users changed their supplement routine since the start of the pandemic, and of those users 91% reported increasing their supplement routine in some way. Additional data also suggested that 98% of supplement users who increased their regimen were likely to continue with their current routine moving forward. It is likely that the industry is poised for significant growth in 2021 and beyond.

Additionally, near the close of 2020, CRN welcomed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) release of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. CRN is pleased to see that the recent guidelines further recognize the critical role supplementation plays in the health of Americans. For the first time, this year’s data recognizes the responsible role of supplements for pregnancy and lactation and for birth-to-24-months life stages. As the recent government data continues to be promoted in 2021, we see this as a positive step for helping the public to recognize the important role these products play in meeting nutrient recommendations and as part of a healthy lifestyle.

What major market or industry trends do you expect to see in 2021?

Kevin Bell: I believe the future of delivery systems and consumer packaging is very strong. Finding new and unique ways to distinguish products and methods of use can be game-changers in 2021. With the attention of consumers at an all-time high, companies that stand out will reap the rewards.

Judy Blatman: We’ll all be keeping an eye on the retail environment. Some retailers, like The Vitamin Shoppe, have been innovative in their approach to meet customers where they are, offering options in brick-and-mortar and online. But, in general, has the convenience of shopping with your fingertips permanently replaced the desire to use your hands to pick out products? For me, personally, I’ll probably have more of a hybrid approach moving forward, but I’m typically brand loyal, and so while buying my supplements online is a no-brainer, I can’t wait to safely get back to the handbag aisles at Nordstrom.

Lisa Buono: Still expect online sales, shopping, and, actually, reordering to be popular. That is not to say that brick-and-mortar stores totally fade away, but they will have to adjust to the consumer adoption of online and straddle both approaches to sales. I still think that we’ll see a wider cross-section of consumers adopting self-care practices actively, taking charge of their health. IRI should have an update on consumer self-care practices by early Q2 2021. Products that respond to key consumer need states should do well: sleep, brain health, anxiety. But watch out for food products/delivery forms that compete for the same benefits for consumers that supplements could deliver.

John Endres: Clearly, we will continue to see interest in products that support a healthy immune response in the face of the ongoing pandemic. It is in times like these that people turn to natural products companies to support healthy diets, lifestyles, botanical medicines, and dietary supplements to encourage optimal health.

Daniel Fabricant: I could say the same thing everyone else is going to say, which is that zinc, vitamin D, anything dealing with the immune system is going to stay strong. I am bullish, very positive, that the sports nutrition market will return. I think people want to get active. They want to get outside. They want to stay in shape. I think people are clamoring for that, so I am very hopeful that that returns in a big way.

Kimberly Kawa, BSc

Kimberly Kawa, BSc

Kimberly Kawa, BSc
Wellness Product Specialist
The Movitz Group

As self-care concepts continue to gain significance as fundamental to health and wellness, the dietary supplement universe is expected to report sales gains in 2021. In 2020, growth was reported at 11%, according to SPINS cross-channel data (52 weeks ending November 1, 2020). Both conventional multioutlet and natural enhanced retailer sales combined may provide key insights into emerging—and more-established—trends, leading to solid predictions for the future. Indicators of the consumer mindset often follow sales growth or decline by targeted demographic, functional ingredient, or primary marketed mechanism of action. In 2021, I am predicting growth in specialty products with specific life stage or gender focus, as well as functional ingredients supporting allergy and respiratory health, immunity, sleep, mood, and cognition.

Multivitamins are mainly marketed for general health and a solid starting point for self-care. Formulas with overt age and gender marketing will continue to shine in 2021, as evidenced by double-digit growth the prior year in women’s multivitamins (+17% to $509 million), children’s multivitamins (+34% to $320 million), and men’s multivitamins (+29% to $245 million). Senior-centric multiple vitamins also reported growth (+8% to $274 million). Although multivitamin supplementation delivers a spectrum of benefits, individuals may seek additional support to reach optimal health goals.

It is well documented that when short-term stress turns into long-term stress, this weakens the immune system. Vitamins C and D are widely known to support immunity, so continued growth in these two functional ingredients is predicted. Last year, vitamin C (all tracked types) reported double-digit growth (+54% to $830 million), as did vitamin D (+17% to $560 million). Another common mineral for immune system function that will inevitably continue its upward trajectory is zinc (+81% to $62 million). Backed by numerous antiviral studies, elderberry reports triple-digit growth, which is a common indicator of distribution gains (+154% to $308 million). Medicinal mushrooms are continuing to bloom in the supplement market: chaga (+58%), cordyceps (+87%), maitake (+60%), reishi (+33%), shiitake (+86%). Combined and including all other medicinal mushrooms, we see a growing market overall (+59% to $31 million). Nearly 40% of dollar sales were attributed to products focused on immune health, and almost 18% to cognitive support.

Supplements featuring the body’s major network antioxidant, glutathione, is a niche market with future potential (+20% to $2 million). N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a glutathione precursor with a more affordable price point, also reported growth (+36% to $5 million). NAC reports nascent dollar sales for products with two health focuses—allergy and respiratory health, and energy support. Allergy and respiratory health supplements reported overall growth last year (+11% to $31 million). NAC has gained scientific interest in recent research reviews for its potential in the treatment and prevention of SARS-CoV-2.

Sleep is another important health focus in the spotlight. It has been shown that lack of sleep contributes to stress on the immune system. Poor-quality and inadequate amounts of sleep are associated with being more likely to get sick after exposure to a virus like the common cold. Lack of sleep influences how fast a person recovers from infection and inflammation, as infection-fighting antibodies and infection-fighting white blood cells (T cells) are reduced during periods of sleep deprivation. Sleep support–focused supplements were up (+40% to $619 million). I predict sleep will continue to grow as a health focus in 2021, not just for physical but also mental health, from boosting emotional well-being to facilitating creative processes. Leading in the sleep category is melatonin, with high dollar sales and double-digit gains (+29% to $572 million). Ashwagandha is a notable functional ingredient for mood support but reports emerging sales and distribution gains in the sleep-support aisle (+430% to $4 million); overall ashwagandha is growing (+67% to $40 million).

Phosphatidylserine (PS) reported triple-digit growth (+225% to $52 million) and has documented connections to both restful sleep and brain regeneration, with sales growth most significant to the cognitive-support category. Cognitive support–focused supplements reported growth (+52% to $338 million), and PS was the second-leading ingredient by dollar change.

Probiotic supplements reported stagnant sales in 2020, but awareness is becoming more prevalent that there are specific probiotic strains that go beyond just digestive support. Recent research linking anxiety and depression to microbiome balance may push this connection to brain health more into the forefront. Probiotic ear, nose, and throat (ENT) formulas are also on my radar, especially with kid-positioning.

There have been a few functional ingredient surprises that may foretell waning popularity this year, including declining sales in CBD (-26% to $90 million) and turmeric (-3% to $138 million), which saw about level sales in 2020. CBD products that market sleep as the primary health focus do report sales gains (+95% to $4.5 million). Conversely, CBD products with a general or non-specific health focus appear to be driving the decline in overall sales (-30% to $75 million). Are consumers seeking out CBD for more targeted indications over general health now, turning to dispensaries offering non-hemp-derived CBD, or instead choosing CBD-enhanced functional foods or beverages? For turmeric, are supplement sales leveling off because of the increasing interest in culinary applications and beverages, such as turmeric-forward spice blends or medicinal teas?

Did you know the commonly used medicine symbol Rx is derived from the Latin word for recipe? There seems to be notable success for certain functional ingredients (e.g. medicinal mushrooms, matcha, and manuka honey) that cross between whole foods or medicinal/culinary herbs and dietary supplements.

Consumers are seeking additional support to face life’s current challenges, from dealing with preexisting or underlying conditions to managing the everyday stress and anxiety that profoundly impact immune status. A heightened focus on self-care in both preventative and recovery efforts will lead more consumers to discover the natural products universe and the vitamins and supplements category this year. Overall, I predict growth in brands in the supplement space that bring focus to potency, purity, and quality—and, in the natural products universe, success for brands that are transparent about ingredient sourcing, processing, and clean-label efforts.


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Duffy MacKay: Where consumers purchase their supplements has been gradually changing for the past 10 years. However, COVID has caused a rapid shift toward online sales. Companies that have not transitioned to the online shopping experience with the consumer are playing catch-up right now. COVID has also shifted focus to immune products and specifically natural products that have been researched for the treatment or prevention of COVID—for example, the number of studies looking into vitamin D supplements’ benefits with COVID is skyrocketing. If it turns out the evidence of benefit is strong, we will see a second explosion in interest surrounding vitamin D supplements. Doctors will remind patients to take vitamin D, and sales will go up.

Irfan Qureshi: I expect to see continued growth in key categories, including immune health, sleep, mood, stress, and cognitive health in 2021. As a greater number of individuals have access to the vaccine, and the acute fear of COVID-19 begins to subside towards the latter half of the year, traditionally strong-performing categories, including cardiovascular health, weight management, digestive health, and microbiome support products, as well as key ingredients like turmeric, CoQ10, and omega-3s, should see continued and resumed interest, leading the charge into 2022. Hemp and CBD, as usual, will be another ingredient category to keep an eye on as developments on the research and regulatory front continue to progress. Overall, given the demand for immune supplements throughout 2020, the light should continue to shine on all supplements in general as a necessary adjunct for health and wellness regimens heading into 2021, and it should be another year of above-average growth for the industry.

Kantha Shelke: Science and sensibility, hopefully. It will be more important now than ever before to educate the market about food and dietary supplements with science and sensibility.

Paula Simpson: 1) Immune health is a hot topic, so I think many products will try to tie back their formulations to immune health in one way or another. 2) Traceability: quality of ingredients, including where they are sourced and farmed, will become more immersed in brand stories and how it relates to the overall quality, safety, and efficacy of a product. 3) Wellness is everywhere, from how it affects our inner health, outer appearance, mindset. This will continue to be front and center in 2021. 4) Natural antiviral remedies: in conjunction to immune health, targeted nutrition and botanical ingredients with antiviral properties will come front and center. 5) Microbiome science and personalized nutrition: two areas that are rapidly emerging and will continue to do so. 6) It’s a digital world: this is revamping traditional brick-and-mortar retail channels and moving many brands to alter marketing platforms direct-to-consumer.

Brian Tanzer: I think we will continue to see the immune category emerge and companies launching combination immune-support formulas to help reduce pill fatigue while also allowing people to keep their immune systems healthy. I also believe we will see a boost in products designed to address stress and its impact on the body. Working from home, online schooling, and the stress of the economic impact of this pandemic have caused people to seek out products to help reduce stress and anxiety. Products such as CBD, which is commonly used for stress, will continue to grow in popularity along with go-to ingredients like ashwagandha and magnesium.

John Villafranco: Sustainability will be the industry buzzword in 2021, as it has been for a number of years, with companies finally embracing it.

Brian Wommack: The personalization trend will continue to race forward. Newcomers to the market will challenge existing players, and both will adapt to best serve the consumer. Consolidation will continue as many companies have experienced increased revenues in 2020 and are eager to find ways to expand their footprint. New talent will continue to stream into the industry, and we’ll see some new faces making an impact in 2021.

In 2021, what will be the key to success for those in the dietary supplement and natural products industries?

Kevin Bell: I believe the key to success for companies will be a combination of maintaining a focused discipline in their successful product offerings and ensuring a strong supply chain. I think 2021 will see an increase in C-suite positions for those who oversee supply chain operations.

Lisa Buono: Watch consumers very closely. Look for the intersections of where science behind strong claims for supplement ingredients links to consumer need states.

John Endres: Science, science, science. Investing in science to support the safety and efficacy of ingredients is paramount to responsible marketing and the ultimate win-win outcomes.

Daniel Fabricant: One: stay connected. That’s the biggest thing. And it’s not easy right now. I am not a fan of Zoom, but guess what? Doesn’t matter. Stay connected. Pick up the phone. Talk to people. Connect with people—not just by e-mail, not just by text, but really connect with people, whether it’s the phone, whether it’s Zoom. People need that. That’s really critical from an advocacy standpoint. You gotta stay engaged. People need to hear from us that, “Hey, we want to stay open. We want our businesses to stay open, our manufacturers, our retailers.” I’m not going to say we’re frontline the same way nurses and doctors are in emergency rooms, but we’re on the frontlines in helping people stay healthy, and I think that’s something to be proud of.

Duffy MacKay: The key to success in the current environment is adaptability. COVID has resulted in supply chain challenges, packaging shortages, a shift in consumer buying patterns, and staffing challenges. The world is changing, and to be successful, a company must evolve rapidly in this environment. The good news is that optimal health and well-being are being promoted as important preventive steps to protecting your health. Dietary supplement companies are considered essential businesses, and consumers are looking for science-backed ways to stay healthy. Companies that can adapt and continue to reach their customers should do well.

Irfan Qureshi: I believe that the most successful industry players will be those who are able to have strong oversight on their supply chain to meet their quality and production needs, who feature products and ingredients in trending categories that are relevant from a consumer standpoint, as well as those that are best able to engage consumers through online and social media channels, as a trend that is sure to continue is less reliance on brick-and-mortar sales channels and a greater reliance on digital marketing channels. This is because, for the foreseeable future, people will still be concerned with limiting their exposure during the ongoing pandemic and more importantly because of the convenience associated with being able to shop from the comfort of their own homes. In this type of market, strong, reliable, and trustworthy consumer education efforts will be key in setting brands apart from their competition.

Harry Rice: For the omega-3 industry, as in past years, success will be determined, in part, by how effectively scientific benefits are communicated to consumers.

Kantha Shelke: Education and evidence. The key to success for those in the dietary supplement and natural products industry will be to provide science-based evidence of all the claims they make and to help educate consumers to foster trust and loyalty.

Brian Tanzer: There is so much misinformation about health and wellness, particularly dietary supplements. We must be relentless in our quest to help educate people on the importance of lifestyle factors for chronic health conditions by providing real scientific data as to the critical role that diet, exercise, and supplementation can play in their quest for optimal health and wellness. It cannot just be about selling a product. It has to be about selling a lifestyle that includes the foundations of good nutrition and exercise and the important role dietary supplements can play to help people achieve their health and wellness goals.

John Villafranco: Companies that embrace transparency and commit to robust compliance practices will be best-positioned for continued success.

Brian Wommack: Listening to the consumer will be key. As we learned in 2020, the ability to pivot and adapt to changing consumer desires quickly and effectively will separate the wildly successful from the only moderately successful. 2021 should be another year that presents growth opportunities for all companies, but the most nimble and responsive will take the lion’s share.

Articles in this issue

COVID-19 accelerates the dietary supplement industry’s digital transformation
How COVID-19 accelerated the dietary supplement industry’s digital transformation
COVID-19 required dietary supplement manufacturers to reassess their production lines and equipment
COVID-19 required dietary supplement manufacturers to reassess their production lines and equipment
Clean-label colors are the new normal, but they come with challenges
Clean-label colors are the new normal, but they come with challenges
Ingredients to watch: probiotics
Probiotic sales declined in 2020, but probiotics remain a top-seller. How will they fare in 2021? 2021 Ingredient trends to watch for food, drinks, and dietary supplements
Contract manufacturing outlook for dietary supplements in 2021
Contract manufacturing outlook for dietary supplements in 2021
Ingredients to watch: Protein
Protein drivers in 2021: Innovations in plant-based, dairy, and meat alternatives. 2021 Ingredient trends to watch for food, drinks, and dietary supplements
Has COVID-19 changed the immune-health product landscape forever?
Has COVID-19 changed the immune-health product landscape forever?
Ingredients to watch: Multivitamins
Multivitamins sales skyrocketed during COVID-19. What about in 2021? 2021 Ingredient trends to watch for food, drinks, and dietary supplements
Ingredients to watch: ashwagandha
Ashwagandha sales grew in 2020. Experts discuss how it will lead the mainstreaming of adaptogens in 2021. 2021 Ingredient trends to watch for food, drinks, and dietary supplements
COVID-19 and Third-Party Audits
How COVID-19 changed the realities of third-party GMP audits
Ingredients to watch: mushrooms
Mushrooms sales growth in 2020 promises success this year. 2021 Ingredient trends to watch for food, drinks, and dietary supplements
New research on emerging blood sugar–management ingredients
Glycemic Giants: The latest research on ingredients for blood sugar support
ingredients to watch: elderberry
How elderberry became an immune-health superstar last year. 2021 Ingredient trends to watch for food, drinks, and dietary supplements
Ingredients to watch: CBD
COVID-19 plus legal uncertainty slowed CBD sales in 2020. What’s CBD in for in 2021? 2021 Ingredient trends to watch for food, drinks, and dietary supplements
Ingredients to watch: vitamin D
Vitamin D made headlines over COVID-19 studies last year. Sales of vitamin D were also up in 2020. What will 2021 look like? 2021 Ingredient trends to watch for food, drinks, and dietary supplements
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