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U.S. Supplement Sales Still Sailing

ROCKVILLE, Md.—U.S. supplement sales rose 7 percent to $11.5 billion in 2012, and are forecasted to reach $15.5 billion by 2017, according to "Nutritional Supplements in the U.S.," a recent report from Packaged Facts. The research firm attributed the steady growth to Americans embracing supplements as less costly alternatives to pure-play medical options such as doctor visits and prescription medications.

However, Package Facts warns as U.S. consumers beginning to loosen their budgetary belts, nutritional supplement marketers must work to keep their products integral to consumer health regimens. Key to this pursuit are targeted products featuring highly publicized ingredients that are solidly backed by science and take a page from functional food competitors.

Supplement marketers must also market to those older than age 65 and the up-and-coming aging Baby Boomers. Last year, Package Facts said the older crowd is willing to pay more for premium products. But the industry shouldn't forget younger demographics or the Hispanic population, whose supplement usage rates are below average but gradually rising.

Product efficacy and credibility remain crucial, with supplement developers increasingly relying on scientific evidence supporting the benefits of taking nutritional supplements to bolster the industry’s image in the eyes of consumers and of the health care practitioners who advise them. With market regulation and scrutiny at an all-time high, Package Facts said it’s more important than ever for the industry to produce and feature products with substantiated health benefit claims.

Packaged Facts publisher David Sprinkle said condition-specific supplements continue to grow in range and importance, and will remain a key driver of sales and new product development across various segments including joint, brain, heart and beauty, with many of these products honing in on age-related issues. At the other end of the condition-specific spectrum, children’s supplements have been doing well, demographically book ending the overall market and laying the foundation for the market’s future prospects.

In 2010, Packaged Facts estimated U.S. retail sales of nutritional supplements exceeded $9 billion in 2009, up 8 percent over 2008 sales. From 2005 to 2009, the market grew by a total of 26 percent, fueled by growing consumer awareness about health maintenance, in addition to pressure by the media and government to enforce product accountability.

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