The figure is the latest in an upward trend for retail sales, which have increased every year since 2004. This also meant that consumer spending on supplements has nearly doubled since that year.
Other key findings in the report included the strong performance of turmeric in both natural and mainstream channels and the inclusion of cannabidiol (CBD) among the 40 top-selling herbal supplements in the U.S. natural channel.
The report collated retail sales data from SPINS, market researcher IRI, and the Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ). An earlier report by SPINS measured a 4.2-percent overall growth in U.S. vitamin and supplement sales based on a 52-week report ending July 2018. In total, industry sales were at $14.6 billion, with herbal blends and singles posting significantly high growth rates of 21.5 and 8.8 percent, respectively.
The NBJ report was in the same vein: Herbal supplement sales increased by 4.7 percent in 2017, based on mass-market channel analysis. This also included retail store sales, such as those from Whole Foods. The report further revealed that direct sale of herbal supplements had the strongest sales growth, posting an 11.2 percent increase compared to the previous year.
This year also marked the first time that CBD appeared on the herbal supplement map. Based on retail sales reports, CBD is ranked 12th among the top-selling herbal ingredients. In 2017 alone, CBD sales reached $7.58 million — triple the numbers it posted in the previous year.
Some of the health conditions that achieved the highest sales included condition-specific CBD formulations for improving mood and managing inflammation. In addition, there has been increasing interest on the use of CBD formulations as a pharmacological agent for even more conditions, thanks to its analgesic, antioxidant, antiemetic, and anxiolytic properties.
Other herbal supplements that have seen remarkable growth include black cumin, with sales for 2017 exceeding 200 percent from the previous year. Based on market data from SPINS, most sales for black cumin supplements are from its liquid seed oil preparations, which are sold both in natural and mainstream stores. In addition, moringa also made its debut as part of the 40 top-selling herbs, with most sales coming from powder preparations.
The report also established turmeric as the top-selling herbal ingredient in the natural channel. This is the fifth consecutive year in which turmeric experienced the strongest sales growth in both mainstream and natural channels.
The authors of the report noted that the uptick in the sales for turmeric products coincided with increasing awareness in Ayurveda, a traditional medicine system used in India. Aside from its use in food – turmeric is what gives curry its distinct yellow hue – turmeric is widely used in Ayurveda for its multiple therapeutic properties, which include inflammation, skin conditions, joint pain, and kidney and liver disorders, among others.
The spice’s inclusion in many food trends is also a contributing factor to its rise. Recently, turmeric has been part of many popular “wellness tonics,” with major coffee chains adding many turmeric-containing options to their menus. Based on data from the report, turmeric formulations -- either those that address a specific condition or those that are non-specific -- have led to a 46.7 percent increase in sales in the mainstream channel from the previous year.
“[The results] reflect heightened consumer interest in once-obscure botanicals and medical traditions,” the researchers concluded in their report. “Consumer demand for culinary botanicals with general health and nutrition benefits continued to drive sales of these products.” (Related: More people are going the natural way, market sales for herbal products in the U.S. continue rising.)