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Market Takeaways: Joint Health Ingredients

<p>Like much of the health and nutrition industry, the joint health market is adapting in response to key market trends and shifting demographics&#0151;namely, a growing aging population, a mainstream sports nutrition market, increased demand for plant-based products and inflammation-targeting formulas.</p>

The joint health market isn’t burgeoning, per say, but some areas of the market are growing, and certain ingredients are seeing success. Conversely, certain ingredients are facing declining sales.

Considering functional ingredients for joint health, several top ingredients (those with the highest market share) are experiencing declining sales. For example, SPINS reported glucosamine-chondroitin combos maintained the highest market share for the 52 weeks ending Nov. 27, 2016, with sales of US$162.8 million, but the ingredients’ market value decreased 9.6 percent (sum of percent growth) during the same period. Glucosamine alone saw a greater decline (down 24.7 percent), yet maintained the second highest market share in the segment with sales of $45.1 million. 

The declining sales of glucosamine-chondroitin are often attributed, in part, to research challenging the efficacy of the ingredients. However, data suggests consumers are increasingly avoiding shellfish, which could be another hurdle facing glucosamine, which is commonly derived from the outer shell of crustaceans.

“Some of the fastest-growing formulas feature the label claim ‘shellfish free,’" said Kimberly Kawa, senior nutrition researcher at SPINS. She pointed to certain “shellfish alternative" ingredients reflecting the highest, positive dollar change for 52 weeks ending Nov. 27, 2016, including boswellia (111 percent), collagen products (76 percent), turmeric (70 percent) and cherry fruit supplements (77 percent).

“This highlights a shift in consumer purchasing toward non-shellfish-derived ingredients," she said. “The downward trend in glucosamine and chondroitin popularity may be due in part to negative press that’s come out in the past few years."

Krill oil may be another ingredient facing shellfish stigma; krill oil products positioned for joint health witnessed a decline of 39.5 percent (sum of percent growth based on sales for the year ending Nov. 27, 2016, compared to sales for the year ending Nov. 27, 2015) despite sales of $1.8 million for the year ending Nov. 27, 2016.

A shift toward plant-based products could be another factor affecting ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin and krill oil, among others. Kawa said, “Newer top-performing herbal formulas featuring turmeric, boswellia and tart cherry display ‘plant based’ marketing—targeting consumers seeking non-animal-derived alternatives."

Another trend potentially affecting the market—and reflected in SPINS’ data—is consumer demand for joint products targeting pain and inflammation. 

Read more about the market for joint health ingredients by downloading INSIDER’s Joint Health Digital Magazine.

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