An increasing number of consumers no doubt have been exposed to the idea that inflammation is the root of all chronic degenerative conditions, and curcumin seems to be one of the current leaders in fitting a supplement into that health-promoting paradigm.
Notably, more than half of the scientific papers on curcumin’s health benefits have been published since 2014, revealing just how much recent momentum has taken place in the category.
In 2019 alone, according to PubMed, 1,924 curcumin studies were published, including 913 human clinical trials.
Curcumin has hundreds of published clinical studies supporting its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,1 particularly in areas relating to cardiovascular disease (CVD),2,3 metabolic syndrome,4 colitis remission,5 cognitive health,6 depression symptoms,7 skin health,8 muscle recovery,9 joint health and arthritis.10
Mounting evidence has revealed the anticancer properties of curcumin in various tumors and as an adjuvant in chemo patients.11,12
Investigations have also spanned from eye health in the retina,13 and to a general slowing of aging symptoms in what’s been coined “inflammaging,”14 among many other conditions where curcumin has shown promise as a therapeutic agent.
Sales follow science
All this investigation into the varied ways in which curcumin can maintain or improve human health has not gone unnoticed by suppliers, CPG brands or consumers.
Demand and sales have surged in recent years—in the U.S., the largest market for turmeric supplements, sales almost tripled from 2013 to 2016, totaling more than $69 million, according to SPINS. And that data doesn’t include sales at stores like Walmart, Costco and Whole Foods, which SPINS doesn’t track.
Global curcumin market size is expected to grow by $32.11 million between 2020 and 2024, predicts Technavio, an estimate that takes into account the COVID-19 surge in supplement sales. Technavio expects the market to grow at a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% during the forecast period.
The diversity of product offerings is remarkable. In the supplements aisle, brands are offering curcumin with techniques and technologies to boost bioavailability—an important goal because of curcumin’s notorious difficulty in being absorbed while also being quickly metabolized. Those twin issues can lead to decreased health effects.
In beverages, effervescent tablets provide an innovative—and fun—way to get one’s yellow pigment on. And golden drinks abound, as Americans have decidedly taken a liking to drink colors such as green and gold (that a generation ago would have been seen as cray-cray).
Expo West’s innovation insight
The market growth tracks with data from the NEXT Data & Insights division of Informa Markets’ New Hope Network, which produces Natural Products Expo West and East. The division tracks every product from every booth at the show in order to reveal trends in new product launches—pre-shelf data, as it is described.
Between Expo West 2017 and Expo West 2019, the NEXT Data & Insights team saw overall share growth of turmeric at 12% across categories.
“This indicates turmeric is an ingredient formulators continue to wield to innovate with to win the market and consumers over,” said Amanda Hartt, lead market analyst for NEXT.
The highest-volume categories of number of new products exhibited at Expos West 2017 and 2019 include snacks, cookies and candy, with 149 products at Expo West 2019 (this number was 73 at Expo West 2014) and steady share growth of 8%. This is followed by beverages, which grew from 26 products at Expo West 2014 to 93 products at Expo West 2017 to 114 products at Expo West 2019—but with a share growth between 2017 and 2019 leveling out at -2%.
“But 93 to 114 is still notable change,” said Hartt.
“While there were 21 more beverage products on display at Expo West 2019 compared to West 2017,” Hartt said, “this slight contraction of share growth for a high-volume turmeric-infused category means only that turmeric has a solid foothold with formulators in beverages—and continues to have a steady presence in this category while other categories are wielding their turmeric might.”
Lower-volume categories with higher growth of number of new products, showing turmeric’s scaling prowess, are baking goods, sauces, spices and seasonings, condiments, oils, and salad dressings and supplements.
“In short,” Hartt noted, “turmeric is well saturated in the high market volume drinks and snacks categories, and formulators continue to innovate with turmeric in these spaces.”
In supplements, between Expo West 2017 and 2019, the number of product launches went from 59 to 82. And that represents an annual percentage change of share growth close to 11%.
Finally, overall at Expo West, curcumin has experienced a healthy growth—growing from 576 products in 2017 to 723 products in 2019, a 12.26% growth spurt. And it’s over a broad range of categories. Companies seem to like formulating with the golden spice—for flavor, color and health.
Of note, curcumin/turmeric product categories that saw a contraction of product launches at Expo West between 2017 and 2019 include “grains, pasta & side dishes” and “soups & canned goods.”
1 Arshad L et al. “An Overview of Structure-Activity Relationship Studies of Curcumin Analogs as Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Agents.” Future Med Chem. 2017;9(6):605-626.
2 Qin S et al. “Efficacy and Safety of Turmeric and Curcumin in Lowering Blood Lipid Levels in Patients with Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Nutr J. 2017;16(1):68.
3 Hallajzadeh J et al. “The Effects of Curcumin Supplementation on Endothelial Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Phytother Res. 2019;33(11):2989-2995.
4 Azhdari M et al. “Metabolic Benefits of Curcumin Supplementation in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Phytother Res. 2019;33(5):1289-1301.
5 Simadibrata M et al. “Efficacy of Curcumin as Adjuvant Therapy to Induce or Maintain Remission in Ulcerative Colitis Patients: an Evidence-based Clinical Review.” Acta Med Indones. 2017;49(4):363-368.
6 Sarker MR, Franks SF. “Efficacy of Curcumin for Age-Associated Cognitive Decline: A Narrative Review of Preclinical and Clinical Studies.” Geroscience. 2018;40(2):73-95.
7 Ng QX et al. “Clinical Use of Curcumin in Depression: A Meta-Analysis.” J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2017;18(6):503-508.
8 Vollono L et al. “Potential of Curcumin in Skin Disorders.” Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2169.
9 Nicol LM et al. “Curcumin Supplementation Likely Attenuates Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).” Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015;115(8):1769-1777.
10 Daily JW et al. “Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta0Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials.” J Med Food. 2016;19(8):717-729.
11 Wang Y et al. “Curcumin in Treating Breast Cancer: A Review.” J Lab Autom. 2016;21(6):723-731.
12 Kumar P et al. “Curcumin as an Adjuvant to Breast Cancer Treatment.” Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2015;15(5):647-656.
13 Peddada K et al. “Therapeutic Potential of Curcumin in Major Retinal Pathologies.” Int Ophthalmol. 2019;39(3):725-734.
14 Kujundzic RN et al. “Curcumin and Its Potential for Systemic Targeting of Inflamm-Aging and Metabolic Reprogramming in Cancer.” Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(5):1180.