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Which supplements are sold the most ?

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Aug 17, 2016 7:00:00 PM

Which supplements are sold the most ?

This is not a comprehensive study done by multiple market researchers and business analysts, but a look at the most readily available data online to answer this question generally and quickly with a bit of underlying detail. Based on what I could gather vitamins are likely to be the most sold supplements worldwide. Within the world of sports nutrition, protein seems to take the top spot.  

Dietary supplement definition

To determine which of a certain thing is sold the most you have to actually define what is within and out of scope for that very market. Here the challenges already begin. Due to the rapid growth of supplements and them becoming more mainstream, the lines between food and dietary supplements become more and more blurred as products become more diversified. Here are some definitions of dietary supplements by authorities:

European Commission

As an addition to a normal diet, food business operators market food supplements, which are concentrated sources of nutrients (or other substances) with a nutritional or physiological effect. Such food supplements can be marketed in “dose” form, such as pills, tablets, capsules, liquids in measured doses, etc.

US. Food and Drug Administration

A dietary supplement is a product intended for ingestion that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to add further nutritional value to (supplement) the diet. A "dietary ingredient" may be one, or any combination, of the following substances:

  • a vitamin
  • a mineral
  • a herb or other botanical
  • an amino acid
  • a dietary substance for use by people to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake
  • a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, or extract

Dietary supplements may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, soft gels, gelcaps, liquids, or powders. Some dietary supplements can help ensure that you get an adequate dietary intake of essential nutrients; others may help you reduce your risk of disease.

Overall you can say that if it is a pill that you buy over the counter without a subscription that provides additional nutrients to you, it is most likely a dietary supplement.

Dietary supplementation market

Below you find the US dietary supplement market in billion dollars from the year 2000 up to 2015 as published on statista. You can see that the volume of the market doubled within 15 years.Some considerable growth here. In 2006 out of the 22.6 billion vitamins took a share of 7.2 billion (31%)home.

2016-07-21_15_48_33-Top-selling_vitamin_supplements_investigated_-_Consumer_Reports.jpg

Depending on the source and the method of how to estimate the total market size the numbers can vary quite considerably. In 2015 an argument took place between the TABS Group and Nutrition Business Journal about how to measure the market. If we stick with the definition of the FDA and European commission the overall market size is bigger and seemingly closer to the Nutrition Business Journal's estimates (give or take a billion here or there). The NBJ: ‘The US supplement industry is $37 billion, not $12 billion’ article is an interesting which should show you why definitions of a market are so important to answer the question "which supplements are sold the most". Other studies claim 18 billion Dollar for the period of 2016.

In a Mckinsey Report written by Warren Teichner and Megan Lesko in 2013 based on Euromonitor data on the dietary supplements, the consulting firm states that the world market for these products was estimated at 82 Billion U.S. Dollar with the US market taking a share 28%. Vitamins, minerals, nutritional and herbal supplements (VHMS) manufacturer are stated to be highly fragmented with the leading manufacturer only taking 7% of the entire market. 

Mykinsey_dietary_supplement_market_split.jpg

In a graphic from that same report as above you can see that the single most sold category within the VHMS market in the US is Vitamins as the dietary supplements category is an aggregate for this very report. In addition, the statista and Mc Kinsey numbers which are derived from Euromonitor do not seem to add up. Here you would have to double check what has been done in total to the Euromonitor data and which assumptions have been made to account for these.

A SlideShare from Partnership Capital Growth utilising data from the Nutrition Business Journal provides similar developments and data for the US Market as mentioned in the statista report in this article. The number for 2011 is quite close and the predictions for 2012 and 2013 a bit too positive. The first can be explained by different rounding techniques for both approaches through an entire report which shows results in billions, the latter is too be expected when business analysts talk about future developments in growing market. 

2016-07-23_15_27_09-PCG_Nutritional_Supplement_Industry_Newsletter_2Q13.jpg

The first pointers to vitamins being the stringest player within this segment still hold true as the follinwg graphic shows

2016-07-23_15_27_36-PCG_Nutritional_Supplement_Industry_Newsletter_2Q13.jpg

Vitamins took the lion's share of the market for this report in 2012 with 33% of the 30.2 billion US Dollars which are stated. The highest growth rates are to be seen in the meal replacement and sports nutrition subgroups of the market with year over year growth of respectively 14.8% and 11.6%. 

While most reports look at which type of supplement sells the most Chris Schmidt from Euromonitor had an interestingly different approach in a graphic on the euromonitor blog which looks at the positioning of these products on the shelves regarding their promised benefits.

2016-07-23_16_18_45-Controversy_in_the_US_Vitamins_and_Supplements_Market.jpgThe article points out that the players in the market are more and more moving away from general health statements to sell their products to very specific purpose built formulations. In this pie chart reflected in the big chunk which the category other takes up of the total. As consumers get more educated via freely available information long tail marketing becomes more and more relevant to value-driven buyers.

The European market is a lot smaller than the American VHMS market at 7.2 Billion USD. This might be due to the fact, that in Europe shows like the doctors and celebrities making health claims like in the states (Deepak Chopra for example) are viewed with more scrutiny and get less airtime. The top five markets are in order Italy, Germany, Russia, UK and France. While the german market is shrinking Italy and Russia are showing strong growth. You can see all the detail in Number cruncher: Europe’s key supplement markets, brands & opportunities revealed which is based on Euromonitor data.

All in all the most sold supplements seem to be vitamins if you take the global market and data which has been collected for this article into account. As I especially focus on nutrition for sports purposes in my blog the next step is to drill a bit deeper into this segment. To achieve this we will steer away from the analysts reports which are more intended for the C-Level investment bankers and have a closer look at the E-Commerce channel for dietary supplements.

Most sold supplements online

In this section, I had a look at amazon.com and bodybuilding.com and their best selling dietary supplements according to their websites. While bodybuilding.com should have a strong bias towards muscle growth and sports nutrition it should be expected that this bias is less pronounced on amazon.com as the website is more geared towards the general populace.

The best selling products according to boybuilding.com are in order:

  1. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey
  2. Evlution Nutrition Lean Mode
  3. JYM Pre JYM
  4. Cellucor C3
  5. Optimum Nutrition Essential Amino Energy
  6. JYM Pro JYM
  7. Evlution Nutrition ENGN
  8. Muscle Pharm Combat Crunch Bars
  9. Cellucor COR Performance Whey
  10. JYM Post JYM
  11. Muscle Tech Platinum 100%
  12. EVlution Nutrition CLA 1000
  13. BSN Syntha 6
  14. EVlotion Nutrition BCAA Energy
  15. Muscle Tech Platinum Multivitamin
  16. BPI Sports Best BCAA
  17. EVlution Nutrition Trans4orm
  18. Blender Bottle Classic
  19. Dymatize ISO 100
  20. Muscle Tech Hydroxycut Hardcore Next Gen
  21. EVlution Nutrition Stacked Protein
  22. Scivation Xtend
  23. Optimum Nutrition Opti Men
  24. Muscle Pharm Combat 100% Whey
  25. JYM OMega JYM
  26. JYM Vita JYM
  27. Universal Nutrition Animal Whey
  28. RSP Nutrition Quadra Lean
  29. Muscle Tech Nitro-Tech
  30. True Grit Test Booster
  31. EVlution Nutrition EVLTEST
  32. JYM ZMA JYM
  33. Quest Nutrition Quest Bars
  34. RSP Nutrition CLA
  35. BPI Sports Best Vreatine
  36. JYM Shred JYM
  37. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Casein
  38. BSN Amino x
  39. GAT Nitraflex
  40. Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Powder
  41. JYM Alpha JYM
  42. RSP Nutrition L-Carnitine
  43. EVlution Nutrition VIta BCAA 5000
  44. EVlution Nutrition VItaMode
  45. RSP Nutrition AminoLean
  46. Pro Supps Mr.HYDE
  47. JYM Post JYM Carb
  48. RSP Nutrition DyNO
  49. Universal Nutrition Animal Pak
  50. Muscle Pharm BCAA 3:1:"

In amazon's case we are looking at:

  1. 100% Pure Garcinia Cambogia Extract
  2. Hyperbiotics Pro-15
  3. Orgain Organic Protein
  4. Optimum Nutrition Creatine Powder
  5. Culturelle Probiotics for Kids
  6. SmartyPants Kids Complete Gummy Vitamins
  7. Optimum Nutrition Whey Gold Standard
  8. Doctor's Best High Absorption Magnesium
  9. Dr. Tobias Omega 3 Fish Oil
  10. Natrol Biotin 10.000 mcg Maximum strength
  11. Nature's Bounty Probiotic 10
  12. Doctor's Best High Absorption Coq10
  13. Nutrition Essentials Probiotic
  14. Nature Wise Cla 1250
  15. Ddrops Bay 400IU
  16. SugarBearHair Vitamins
  17. Dr. Tobias Colon: 14 Day Quick Cleanse
  18. Vitafusion Multivite Gummy Vitamins
  19. Biotin 5000mcg

as of 23rd of July 2016. We can see that protein seems to take a stronger hold here as it would be in the larger scale total market analysis we looked at before. 

Conclusion

If you wanted a simplified answer to the question which supplements sell the most it would be vitamins most likely driven mainly by multivitamin sales through supermarkets. To me this makes sense when I look at my own household and also think about that vitamins are taken for various reasons not only by sports enthusiasts. If you narrow it down to sports nutrition it looks a lot like that protein and above that whey protein seem to be the most sold in this category. 

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Further reading

Colostrum

Creatine

Digestive Enzymes

Electrolytes

Fish Oil

GABA

Glucosamine

Glutamine

Multi Vitamin

Probiotics

Protein

Vitamin D

ZMA

Topics: Supplements