Magazine article Drug Topics

Beta Carotene Gives Lift to Nutrition Market Sales

Magazine article Drug Topics

Beta Carotene Gives Lift to Nutrition Market Sales

Article excerpt

Vitamins, minerals, and supplements are alive and well once again, thanks, in large part, to beta carotene.

Sales of beta carotene climbed strongly last year, raising revenues for all supplements to $550 million, up 37.5% over 1991. This increase, in turn, helped the combined vitamin, mineral, and supplement market to hit $3.5 billion in 1992, a 7.4% upswing over the preceding year, according to New York City-based Packaged Facts Inc.

This forward movement is especially significant because the vitamin, mineral, and supplements market had been relatively stagnant over the preceding five years, growing--or declining--from-1.3% to 3.2% each year. The surge in beta carotene sales was spurred by publicity surrounding its health benefits as an antioxidant.

Vitamins, minerals, and supplements are expected to keep growing through 1996, when retail sales will reach $4.070 billion, the Packaged Facts report indicated. From 1992 to 1993, sales will climb by 6.1% for all three segments combined; then they will level off to an approximate 3% annual increment over the next three years. (See table for complete breakdown.)

'Slow, steady growth': "We believe vitamins and minerals will continue at a slow, steady growth through the end of the forecast period, similar to the growth these categories had in the past," Sara Starr, analyst, Packaged Facts, told Drug Topics. The vitamin segment will grow at an average of 2.1% each year, reaching $2.5 billion in 1996; the mineral portion, at an average of 2.8% each year, will climb to $670 million in 1996. Supplements will fare better, averaging out to an increase of 11.9% to $850 million by the end of the forecast period.

"The growth projections are slightly higher for minerals, because it is a smaller category than vitamins," Starr explained. "Thus, the I percent growth will be larger. In I real dollars, however, minerals are projected to grow by only $70 million from 1992 to 1996, while vitamins will grow by $200 million."

What all vitamin, mineral, and supplement manufacturers have to contend with is the fact that claims about these products will seesaw, noted Starr. "When a new medical study is reported in the popular press, sales of the vitamin, mineral, or supplement mentioned will skyrocket. But then, there are often contradictory findings, as with oat bran and fish oils, so sales will drop off just as quickly. Because most vitamin companies do not invest in long-term planned clinical studies to support their products, the likelihood of a steady string of studies that consistently support a vitamin, mineral, or supplement is small. As a result, these products tend to be treated as 'fads' by consumers, who quickly drop an item not in the news for the next 'cure. …

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