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Takeaways on the joint health supplement market.jpg

Joint health takeaways: Where some perish, others prosper

In a flat joint health category, there’s still plenty of opportunity for growth. Here’s the secret to that sauce.

Joint health supplements grew at an anemic 2.1% in 2018, according to data from Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ). But that top-line headline is not actually the story. That’s because almost one-third of the market is comprised of glucosamine, and that joint kingpin’s bloom is off the rose.

Joint health overall is a US$2 billion category and is seeing its best overall growth in a decade, according to NBJ data.

For that, we can thank nouveau ingredients such as curcumin and collagen. The phenomenon highlights the need (or shall we say opportunity?) for innovation around alternative ingredients and science to support—if not outright supplant—the category-defining ingredients of glucosamine and chondroitin.

The supplements segment is, of course, the biggest driver for joint health solutions. But that’s not the entire story. Anyone remember Joint Juice? Those tin cans are still here, having evolved to “weekly packs” in plastic bottles, with hip flavors like blueberry-acai and cranberry-pomegranate. Sports drinks also sweep up joint-health ingredients into its broadening category that includes energy, protein and muscle-recovery drinks.

According to data by the NEXT Data & Insights division at New Hope Network, which tracks the pre-shelf data by looking at product launches at the Natural Products Expo West and East trade shows, comparing Expo West 2016 to Expo West 2019 showed joint health claims are crossing over from supplements to other categories such as pet care and food and beverages.

Be on the lookout for joint health claims in the food and beverage space as claims are starting to emerge in teas and baking goods–like Tempt’s Hemp Pancake Mix leveraging the many health benefits of hemp.

New ingredients can freshen old categories that, even while flat overall, reveal much chub, churning and competition among different ingredients under the surface. Same goes for product formats: Supplements are not the only way to healthy living. The next generation of consumers is upon us, and that means everyone old may feel new again with the right ingredient mix, product format and branding story. Formulators and innovators, get up to the starting line and get busy.

Check out INSIDER'S full joint health digital magazine here.

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