Annual sales of herbal dietary supplements in the United States totaled $12.350 billion in 2021, according to the American Botanical Council’s (ABC’s) 2021 Herb Market Report. This represents the highest recorded annual spending on these products in the United States and a 9.7 percent increase from the previous year—the second-highest annual sales growth for herbal supplements since at least 2000.
ABC’s 2021 market report was published in Issue 136 of ABC’s quarterly, peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram. The report is based on U.S. retail sales data provided by SPINS, a wellness-focused data technology company based in Chicago, Illinois, and Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), a publication of Informa/New Hope Natural Media based in Boulder, Colorado. It was written by Tyler Smith, managing editor of HerbalGram; Haleigh Resetar, corporate communications specialist at SPINS; and Claire Morton, senior industry analyst at NBJ.
The sales figures for individual herbs and fungi discussed in the Herb Market Report reflect sales of herbal dietary supplements in which the particular herb or mushroom (or derivative thereof) is the primary ingredient. The report does not include sales of most herbal teas, cosmetic products containing botanical ingredients, or government-approved botanical drug ingredients in over-the-counter medicines.
NBJ based its total herbal supplement sales figures for 2021 on data from market research firms, company surveys, interviews with major retailers and industry experts, and other secondary materials. SPINS determined sales of herbal supplements in two retail channels: the conventional multi-outlet (mainstream) channel powered by IRI, and the “natural enhanced” retail channel. SPINS’ mainstream channel includes select grocery stores, drug stores, and mass merchandisers such as club, dollar, and military stores. The natural channel includes co-ops, associations, independent retailers, and large regional chains (excluding Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s).
Several ingredients that experienced notable sales growth during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (2020) continued to see increased sales in 2021. In the mainstream retail channel, sales of herbal supplements containing ashwagandha, a well-known adaptogen (a substance demonstrating activities that improve the human body’s ability to adapt to various forms of stress), had the highest sales growth for the second year in a row. 2021 mainstream sales of this traditional Ayurvedic herb more than quadrupled from 2020. Supplements containing apple cider vinegar (ACV) also experienced significant sales growth in 2021, with sales in both mainstream and natural retail outlets more than doubling compared to the previous year.
In the 2021 natural channel, quercetin supplements, which first appeared in this channel’s top 40 list in 2017, had the strongest sales growth. According to SPINS, the top three health focuses of quercetin products sold in natural retail outlets were unchanged from 2020: allergy/respiratory support, cardiovascular health and prostate health. Only four herbal ingredients in the natural channel experienced significant sales decreases greater than 30 percent: elderberry, echinacea/goldenseal combination products, echinacea (single-herb formulations), and oregano. Elderberry supplements, which had a 41.4 percent decrease from 2020, were still ranked fourth in sales in the natural channel in 2021. This is due to very strong demand during the first year of the pandemic which tapered off for a variety of reasons in 2021.)
“Based on the near-record sales growth of herbal supplements in 2021, it appears that consumers continued to prioritize self-care using herbal dietary supplements during the second year of the pandemic,” said Smith, who has co-authored the annual ABC Herb Market Report since 2014. “As pandemic-related stressors became somewhat entrenched in 2021, consumer spending increased for products in categories such as mood support, digestive health, and energy. Perhaps surprisingly, sales decreased for some herbs commonly sold for immune support, but 2021 sales of these ingredients were still largely higher than in 2019. This suggests that consumer spending in some supplement categories may be returning to pre-pandemic levels.”
The 2021 Herb Market Report spans 27 pages in HerbalGram and features six tables and one chart, including tables of total US herbal supplement sales from 2000 to 2021 and the 40 top-selling herbs in the U.S. mainstream and natural retail channels. It also includes detailed descriptions of SPINS and NBJ market channels and tables of sales broken down by product type (single-herb supplements vs. combination formulas) and retail channel (mass market; natural, health food, and specialty; and direct sales). The extensive report contains 99 references and more than 30 color photographs of many of the herbs discussed in the report.
For more information, visit www.herbalgram.org.