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Positive Outlook for Calcium, Vitamin D and Glucosamine Supplements

The market for calcium, vitamin D and glucosamine supplements is positive as older women are more health conscious than previous generations.

Retail sales of calcium supplements (bone health), vitamin D (bone health) and glucosamine (joint health) will reach US$8.8 billion in 2016, and are expected to see a combined global compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3 percent from 2016 to 2021, reaching $10.1 billion in 2021, according to data from Euromonitor International. These categories present good opportunities for consumer health companies, especially those specifically targeting women's health and preventative care.

As the demographic panorama shifts to an older generation that is more interested in disease prevention and wellness, calcium, vitamin D and glucosamine supplements will experience strong growth in demand. Mass-market options are available to meet the new supplementation demands, but many lack positioning for senior women, who are more vulnerable because of the bone loss that occurs in menopause. According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF), over 200 million women suffer from osteoporosis today. In fact, in women aged over 45, osteoporosis accounts for more days spent in hospital than diabetes, heart attacks and breast cancer combined.

Therefore, women's bone and joint health is an opportunity and a driver for future consumer health products. Today, there are more than 7 billion people on earth and almost 50 percent are women. Among them, the segment that will grow fastest in 2016 to 2021 (at a rate of 19 percent) is females aged 65 and older. This, added to the fact that, on average, women live 4.1 years longer than men, will establish the senior women segment as the fastest growing market for healthy aging products.

Over half of the 65 and older female population is concentrated in Asia Pacific, which will reach 213 million women by 2021 (23 percent higher than in 2016). The second largest 65 and older women segment is in Western Europe, expected to reach 54 million by 2021, 9 percent higher than in 2016. Globally, this segment is expected to grow by up to 410 million women by 2021.

Hence, the right positioning of health products toward women's health is one of the key drivers of growth, and has a positive outlook ahead as the aging trend continues. This could be used as a benchmark to increase demand in other categories as well. For example, probiotics with added calcium (where calcium works as a prebiotic) to support digestion could be better positioned for women, or aspirin with calcium to help with cardiovascular women's health (as Bayer is already doing) could further boost its growth if it is more appealing to women.

Calcium Supplements

Globally, calcium supplements retail value sales increased by a CAGR of 3 percent from 2011 to 2016. The top three companies leading calcium supplements in global sales are Pfizer, Tiens Group Co. and Lee Kum Kee, with a combined 21 percent retail value share.

More companies are expected to better target women with calcium supplements, since the IOF stated in China, for example, the overall prevalence of osteoporosis might be approximately 50 percent among women aged 50 years and, in the United States, the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) estimated 80 percent of the 10 million Americans with osteoporosis are women, and approximately one in two women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis.

Opportunities in Asia Pacific

The Asia Pacific region constitutes almost 50 percent of calcium supplements, vitamin D and glucosamine sales, totaling $4.4 billion. Within this region, China is the main market. China also leads globally, with value sales of calcium supplements forecast to record a 3 percent CAGR in 2016 to 2021.

China has calcium supplements' per capita spending in retail of $1.8. The level of spending in China contrasts with a lower per capita spending in Malaysia of only $0.4. This could be a great opportunity to grow sales in Malaysia, where supplement companies with halal certifications are expected to keep growing in order to cater to the 60 percent Muslim population present in this market. Currently, the top three players leading calcium supplements in China are Pfizer, Tiens Group Co. and Lee Kum Kee Co., which have a combined 34 percent value share.

China is also ahead of other markets in terms of glucosamine total sales, which has an expected 20 percent CAGR for 2016-2021. However, if China can spend US $1.8 per capita on calcium supplements and Taiwan and Singapore already have per capita spending on glucosamine of US $3.6 and US $2.6, respectively, an argument can be made regarding the great potential to increase glucosamine sales per capita in China, specifically targeting women.

North America and Beyond

The North America region constitutes almost 32 percent of calcium supplements, vitamin D and glucosamine global sales. Within this region, the United States is the main market, with sales of US$2.57 billion.

The United States also constitutes 77 percent of vitamin D world consumption, and has per capita spending of $3.2 dollars. The forecast CAGR from 2016 to 2021 is 2.7 percent, with sales projected to reach US$1.17 billion by 2021. In contrast, current vitamin D per capita spending in the U.K. is only $0.2 dollars, but this might soon change. In August 2016, the U.K. government issued guidelines recommending that U.K. citizens take a supplement of vitamin D from October to March to compensate for the country's lack of sunlight. This could therefore be a great opportunity to grow the category in this market.

In terms of targeting aging women in these two markets, in the United States, the number of women aged 65 and older is expected to see a 3 percent CAGR, reaching almost 40 million by 2030, while in the U.K. this segment is projected to record a 2 percent CAGR, to reach 8.4 million by 2030.

Customization, Digitalization and Genetic Information

Older women are more concerned about healthy aging and are more connected than ever to digital devices; therefore there will be a global increase in consumer health demand for joint and bone health support.

The growth strategy for consumer health sales needs to also incorporate the rise of the connected consumer. Internet users are expected to record a 3 percent CAGR from 2016 to 2030, reaching 4.8 billion, and consumer health internet retailing is projected to rise to $22.6 billion by 2020 (8 percent CAGR), which opens opportunities for consumer health companies to continue expanding online sales while connecting with their female customers through digital devices.

This connected consumer is increasingly looking for a more personalized experience and the ability to customize products based on their genetic information and data accumulated on their digital devices. Hence, the faster a company can figure out how to find and engage its connected customers, or create partnerships with companies already leading this space, the better the chances of success in this market. A great example is Your.md, an artificial intelligence mobile health application that partnered with health providers, and it could potentially partner with consumer health suppliers in the future.

New Health Strategies

While there is an opportunity to target more women in categories like calcium, glucosamine and vitamin D supplements to support healthy aging, more can be done to create consumer health strategies with other products like digestive aids, aspirin plus calcium for cardiovascular and bone health, and multivitamins for senior women, which can be better customized for the aging female population.

The risk of cannibalization is increasing, though, not only within the consumer health and the health and wellness industries, but also with the rise of organic whole food supplement companies like the Australian player Welleco, which states on its Facebook page "Say goodbye to multiple supplement pills because our bodies may not recognize them as nutrition," adding "That is why we use premium, cold-pressed bio-live ingredients."

Finally, there is another key issue that needs to be addressed in future public and private strategies: the rise of the aging socioeconomic class E (non-working) and D (working class), who will have less income.

Carolina Ordonez is a consumer health industry analyst at Euromonitor International (euromonitor.com). She brings several years of work experience as a researcher, consultant, and speaker; having helped firms with strategy planning and business expansion throughout the Americas. In her current role, she provides insights on the latest trends in consumer health including over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, vitamins, dietary supplements, sports nutrition, weight management and well-being products. She holds a master’s degree in international management from University of Exeter in the U.K.

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