Vitamins: A "Recession-Proof" Industry

In its latest report on the U.S. vitamins and dietary supplements market, analyst Euromonitor International (www.euromonitor.com) dubbed the industry recession-proof during 2008 and 2009.

In its latest report on the U.S. vitamins and dietary supplements market, analyst Euromonitor International (www.euromonitor.com) dubbed the industry recession-proof during 2008 and 2009.

'While most other consumer product sectors experienced declines or slower sales growth, U.S. vitamins and dietary supplements actually exhibited its strongest growth rates since 2003,' Euromonitor reported. 'Sales of vitamins and dietary supplements actually increased in the second half of 2008, and continued to grow in the high single digits, just as the U.S. recession was gaining steam.'

Euromonitor attributed the gains to several factors: an aging population that uses more vitamins (31% of U.S. consumers were ages 50 or older in 2009, compared to 28% in 2003), a preventive approach to healthcare in the face of increasing healthcare costs and shrinking healthcare coverage, and finally, growing acceptance of the beneficial role of vitamins by the health practitioner sector.

Single Vitamins, Multivitamins Stay Strong

Not counting the growing functional-foods sector, the vitamin industry alone grew 7% in 2009 (following an already-strong 9% hike in 2008). Euromonitor said that this strong growth was driven by the 'booming' single-vitamin market.

Vitamin D was an especially strong performer, says Euromonitor, as scientific studies and the media continue to point out the high vitamin D deficiency in this country and others. As a result, even consumers who take a multivitamin may be looking to supplement with even more vitamin D.

'For example,' said Euromonitor, 'a Centrum Silver multivitamin contains 400 mg of vitamin D, while recent research suggests that 1000 mg is required as a daily minimum.'

Multivitamins also continue to perform strongly. In fact, this category makes up just over 50% of all vitamin sales, Euromonitor says. Consumers tend to see multivitamins as a 'one-stop-shop' solution.

However, Euromonitor reports that to promote growth in the mature multivitamin market, 'players diversified away from one-size-fits-all formulations to offer more specialized products, such as age-, gender-, condition-, and race-specific varieties.'

Also, it adds, 'Claims of superior absorption rates are an important point of differentiation in this mature product area. Some direct-selling players and high-end brands sold through healthfood shops emphasize this point in order to justify their high price point.'