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Sales of vitamins on the decline

The UK's £396 million vitamins and supplements market is set to be a victim of its own nutrition agenda.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Sales of vitamins on the decline

Improved education on diet and nutrition has been a root cause of the struggles as the nation continues to eat more healthily and cuts back on its vitamins and minerals intake. The number of Brits popping supplements has been in steady decline since 2007, with the total number of users falling from 43% in 2006 to 41% in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of vitamin fanatics (those taking supple
ments once a day or more) has declined from 34% to 32% over the same 2 year period.

While in previous years vitamin devotees flocked to the supplement aisles for all their nutritional needs, today, almost four in ten (38%) adults prefer to get their vitamins and minerals from their diets than from supplements. This compares to just one in four (25%) in 2005. What is more, over two thirds (67%) of Brits enjoy a healthy diet, while almost half (46%) stick to the 5-A-Day rule.

"Growth in functional foods and the focus on healthy eating are having a negative impact on the vitamins and supplements market. As people eat more healthily, they do not feel that they need to take additional vitamins and minerals from supplements. A shift towards stripping chemicals such as fertilisers and e-numbers out of the diet may well also be putting pressure on the vitamins and supplements market owing to the unnatural tablet or capsule format of many supplements. As a result the preference for natural sources of vitamins and minerals such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products is strong among many adults." comments Alexandra Richmond, Senior Health & Beauty Analyst.

"The worsening economy has also hampered growth in the market with Brits looking at cheaper alternatives to get their nutrition. For many, vitamins & supplements are considered a non-essential spend," adds Alexandra.

Within the vitamins & supplements market, many people are moving away from single vitamins, preferring instead dietary supplements that complement their lifestyle needs. Dietary supplements have benefited from the focus on age-related concerns notably glucosamine for joint care and omega-3 for brain function, which is masking a decline in sales of other supplements. Omega-3 has proved particularly popular and continues to appeal to parents for its potential to improve their children's performance at school.

Just over four in ten adults would not consider using vitamins and supplements in the future. While one in five adults perceive them to be unnecessary and one in seven claim not to notice any difference when using them.

"The vitamins & supplements market will struggle to achieve overall growth over the next few years as the number of users continues to diminish. Educating people about the benefits of supplements over normal food will be instrumental in capturing the growth potential here. Given the current economic situation, paralleling the cost of vitamins and supplements with the cost of buying enough food to ensure that daily allowance guidelines are met, could help to generate sales for the sector, particularly amongst those people who are finding their budgets squeezed" concludes Alexandra.

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