Herbal ingredients growing in joint-health products

May 14, 2019
Sebastian Krawiec
Volume 22, Issue 2

Herbs and botanicals, in general, have been making their way into the joint health category, says Innova Market Insights, whose research shows a 25% average annual growth of bone and joint supplements that used botanicals between 2014 and 2018.

The joint health category is a healthy balance of old and new, continuing to evolve while also maintaining sales of ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which have long had a good reputation in the dietary supplement industry. According to SPINS, in the conventional, multi-outlet retail channel during the 52 weeks ending November 4, 2018, the glucosamine and chondroitin combo, and glucosamine alone, still held the number one and two spots in the joint health category-at $135 million and $39 million, respectively-despite slight, respective sales declines of 8.2% and 4.2%, compared to the previous year. The glucosamine and chondroitin combo also took the number one spot in the joint health category of the natural channel, at close to $7 million, with only a slight decline of 2.9% compared to the previous year.

Yet, newer-to-market ingredients are nipping at their heels. Turmeric is among the fastest-growing ingredients in the category. Already popular in the overall market mainstream, the herb is well known for its role in supporting healthy inflammation throughout the body. Research has shown that turmeric can improve symptoms of osteoarthritis, making it an important supplement for older consumers, but turmeric is seeing a lot of finished products positioned toward recovery from exercise, targeting younger, more active consumers.

“Curcuminoids provide protection from free radical damage and help to reduce inflammation,” explains Shaheen Majeed, worldwide president of turmeric supplier Sabinsa (East Windsor, NJ). “In recent clinical studies, it was shown that curcuminoids helped to decrease muscle soreness from oxidative stress and inflammation associated with continuous exercise and thus improves athletic performance and endurance.”

According to SPINS, turmeric took the number one spot in the pain and inflammation category in the natural channel last year, with stable year-over-year sales. And in the natural joint health channel, turmeric ranked number two, with sales increasing by 12.2% last year and coming in behind the number-one spot, the glucosamine and chondroitin combo. Meanwhile, in the conventional multi-outlet channel’s joint health market, turmeric ranked number three in sales, behind glucosamine-plus-chondroitin and glucosamine alone. However, turmeric was also the only ingredient in that category to experience a sales gain last year: 32.2%, to be exact. According to Innova Market Insights, globally there was a 28% increase in bone and joint products that incorporated turmeric between 2014 and 2018.

Herbs and botanicals, in general, have been making their way into the joint health category, says Innova Market Insights, whose research shows a 25% average annual growth of bone and joint supplements that used botanicals between 2014 and 2018. Other herbs, such as boswellia, tart cherry, and ginger, can also be found in joint health products whose mechanism of action is supporting inflammation, often in a post-exercise context.

Collagen is also a major force in the joint health category, ranking sixth in the joint health category in the conventional multi-outlet channel; however, because collagen straddles multiple categories, consumer attention for collagen has shifted a bit toward hair, skin, and nails. For instance, according to SPINS, while collagen saw a 25.4% decline in sales last year in the mainstream joint health category, it saw a 28.4% increase in the mainstream hair, skin, and nail category. In the natural channel joint health category, however, collagen held strong and ranked number three in sales, experiencing a 29.6% increase in year-over-year sales.

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