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November 2021

Supplement Sales Increase by 17%, Elderberry Takes Top Spot

US herbal supplement sales reached $11.26 billion in 2020 – surpassing the $10 billion mark for the first time ever. Given the impact of COVID-19, it’s no surprise that immune support and stress relief supplements played a major role in the industry’s sales growth, with elderberry dethroning horehound as the top-selling herbal supplement ingredient. Here are a few highlights from the American Botanical Council (ABC) HerbalGram 2020 Herb Market Report.

Annual elderberry product sales jumped 150% in 2020, totaling $275,544,691 in the mainstream market – this includes grocery and drug stores. It also raked in over $54 million in the natural channel, which includes specialty retail outlets such as Whole Foods and GNC – a 68% jump from 2019. While there’s no evidence that elderberry can help treat or prevent COVID-19, some research shows that it might help treat colds and the flu. Sales certainly benefited from these other common uses.

Apple cider vinegar supplements saw a similarly impressive jump in sales, reaching $79,257,715 in the mainstream market – a 133% increase from the year prior. While evidence supporting the use of apple cider vinegar isn’t great for any condition, marketing campaigns have been effective in pushing sales. It’s promoted for a long list of unproven uses, including weight loss, immune support, and others. It cracked the top 10 in the mainstream market for the first time ever, reaching number 5.

Interestingly, CBD – the star of 2019 – saw a dip in sales in 2020. While it held on to the top spot in the natural channel, sales dropped by 37%. It also saw a 30% drop in sales in the mainstream market. This bumped it out of the top 10. Regulatory confusion, quality concerns and an increase in warning letters from the FDA might have contributed to the sales declines, as well as a shift in consumer priorities to immune health. Additionally, cannabis is now legal in a growing number of states – consumers might be more inclined to purchase cannabis products rather than CBD.

In addition to elderberry and apple cider vinegar, ashwagandhaginger and echinacea products all climbed the sales leader board in 2020. This report serves as a good reminder that consumer interest in natural products continues to grow. Patients are taking them, whether they discuss them with their healthcare providers or not. Check out our monographs to learn more about these popular ingredients, including common uses, potential safety concerns, and interactions.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2022 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.