Contract manufacturers are key to helping nutraceutical brands react to COVID-19 demand shifts, writes one firm


Flexibility and quick action enable manufacturers to successfully help brands navigate the post-COVID-19 nutraceutical environment.

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COVID-19 has disrupted countless industries around the world. It is no longer business as usual due to the pandemic. Industries have been forced to adapt to change quickly. One industry that has adapted quickly and efficiently to meet the needs of consumers is the nutraceutical industry. COVID-19 has caused the demand for nutritional supplements to increase exponentially. The growth is primarily driven by the surge in demand for immune-boosting supplements, and the objective across the industry is to help consumers thrive during this challenging time by supplying quality products.

The demand for immunity products has grown steadily over the years as consumers become increasingly aware of the overall health benefits of maintaining a strong immune system. The Council for Responsible Nutrition’s 2019 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements found that 27% of respondents who used dietary supplements in 2019 cited boosting immune health as a reason they took nutritional supplements1.

Doug Brown

Now amidst the global pandemic, more consumers have a higher awareness of the importance of having a strong and healthy immune system as well as of availability of products that can boost immunity. According to market researcher IRI’s “COVID-19: Economy Report,” sales of immunity products in U.S. multioutlet and convenience stores skyrocketed 199%, while sales of vitamin products increased 77%, during the year ended March 22, 20202. Sales of gastrointestinal products and probiotics were also up 30%, which correlates with the launch of many probiotic and gut health supplements in May as a result of increased demand for immune-boosting supplements3. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for immunity products was high mainly during winter.

Supply Chain Perspective

Products that have outperformed include vitamin C, vitamin D, elderberry, turmeric, melatonin, multivitamins, omega-3s, and probiotics. At SIRIO, we have experienced high demand for gummies and softgels containing these ingredients. Many brands are looking to add innovative immunity solutions to their product line. Some are changing their original strategy for new product launches to focus on what consumers need right now.

A great area of focus is anticipating what consumers will need in the future. Brands are planning ahead to make sure they are well prepared. This is what many nutraceutical companies must do today: anticipate the disruption and what consumers’ future needs will be and rapidly secure supply for key ingredients as early as possible.

Arguably, the most important action that nutraceutical contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) can take to address the increased demand for certain ingredients is to secure the entire supply chain. This ensures customer success by making sure there is an uninterrupted flow of products to consumers. The most prepared manufacturers would have responded as quickly as possible to the logistical challenges caused by the pandemic.

CDMOs that are prepared and react quickly are true partners for their customers. The pandemic spurred innovation in the immunity category, and manufacturers must be ready for it. CDMOs with expert R&D teams that can help brands bring products swiftly to market are key to building long-lasting relationships during these difficult times.

As immunity continues to be a key product category across all consumer groups in the U.S., it is imperative that CDMOs and brands work closely together to guarantee consumers have the products they need to stay healthy. Immunity supplement sales are expected to reach $5 billion this year, according to a recent Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) Supplement Business Report. Additionally, NBJ projects that supplement sales growth will spike above 12% and surpass $50 billion.

As more people seek to maintain and improve their overall health, there is a big opportunity for brands that work with quality CDMOs to make a positive impact in the lives of consumers. And even during this time when in-person meetings have been replaced by virtual meetings, collaborative innovation between brands and CDMOs must continue to flourish. Collaboration leads to high-quality, safe, and effective products for consumers.

Doug Brown is currently the Director of the Americas for Sirio Pharma, a global Contract and Development Manufacturing Organization (CDMO). He has three decades of sales and marketing experience within the nutritional products industry as an entrepreneur, consultant, and executive. His background includes expertise in omega-3 ingredients, prebiotics, and dietary supplements.


  1. Stephens G. “Consumers want immune support now!” Nutraceuticals World. Published online April 9, 2020. Accessed at:
  2. Sloan AE et al. “Getting ahead of the curve: Immunity in the ‘New Normal.’” Nutraceuticals World. Published online April 15, 2020. Accessed at:
  3. Masterson D. “Immunity via the gut dominates May product launches.” Published online May 28, 2020. Accessed at:
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