A Healthy Industry

Herbal supplements see healthy sales increase despite economic ills

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Herbal supplements make up a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. Last year, sales totaled an estimated $5.2 billion, and that was up from the previous year.

Economic unease isn't keeping Americans from seeking health care from herbal supplements. According to a recent report, sales in the United States increased 3.3 percent in 2010. This report was published in HerbalGram, the American Botanical Council’s (ABC) quarterly journal.

"Tell your doctor about all medicines you're taking, including vitamins and herbs."

These figures are based on herbal supplement sales statistics from market research organizations - Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ), SPINS, and SymphonyIRI.

Mainstream outlets - drugstores, grocers, etc. - had an overall sales growth of 6.6 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to NBJ. These sales totaled some $936 million. Natural and health food stores had a 2 percent growth in 2010 to $1.663 billion.

In addition to these traditional outlets, herbal supplements are sold through mail order catalogs, Internet sites, direct sales radio and TV outlets, multi-level marketing and other channels. Healthcare professionals also sell directly to their patients.

HerbalGram Editor Mark Blumenthal says the increased sales are contributing to a trend. In 2009, sales increased 4.8 percent over the previous year when the U.S. recession was in full swing.

In 2010, according to SPINS, the top-selling single herbal supplements in the health food channel included:

  • Flaxseed and/or oil
  • Grass (wheat or barley)
  • Aloe
  • Turmeric
  • Stevia

IRI reports the top-seller single herbs in mass market channels were:

  • Cranberry
  • Saw palmetto
  • Soy
  • Garlic
  • Ginko

HerbalGram is a a peer-reviewed publication of the American Botanical Council, a nonprofit organization.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 13, 2011
Last Updated:
July 16, 2011