2020 Was the Biggest Year Yet for Herbs, According to ABC Report

Austin, TX—Total annual sales of herbal dietary supplements in the United States surpassed $10 billion for the first time in 2020, according to the American Botanical Council’s (ABC) 2020 Herb Market Report.

Consumers spent an estimated $11.261 billion on these products in 2020, a 17.3% increase from 2019, more than double the 8.6% growth reported in 2019.

The report, a press release states, was published in issue 131 of ABC’s peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram. It is based on U.S. retail sales data provided by SPINS and Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ). The sales figures for individual herbs and fungi reflect sales of herbal dietary supplements in which the item is the primary ingredient. The report does not include sales of most herbal teas, botanical ingredients used in cosmetics, or government-approved herbal drug ingredients in OTC medicines.
The report was written by Tyler Smith, Managing Editor of HerbalGram; Farhana Majid, Marketing Operations Associate, and Veronica Eckl, Associate Data Manager, both at SPINS; and Claire Morton Reynolds, Senior Industry Analyst at NBJ.

NBJ based its total herbal supplement sales figures on data from market research firms, company surveys, interviews with major retailers and industry experts, and other secondary materials. SPINS looked at the conventional multi-outlet channel powered by IRI, and the “natural enhanced” retail channel, according to the press release.

In mainstream U.S. retail outlets, consumers looked for products marketed for immune health and stress support. Elderberry was the top-selling herbal supplement ingredient in this channel, with sales totaling more than $275 million, more than doubling since 2019. Ashwagandha root had the highest percentage sales growth, with 185.2% in the mainstream channel.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) supplements saw strong sales growth in both mainstream and natural retail channels; those marketed for digestive health and cleanse & detox performed the best.

U.S. customers in natural retail outlets prioritized fungi supplements, including those marketed for immune and cognitive health, such as chaga, although the press release states that “human clinical research on this so-called ‘king of medicinal mushrooms’ is lacking.”

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Smith, who has co-authored this report since 2014, commented in the press release: “Consumer trends in herbal supplements have never been more pronounced—the pandemic’s effects on supplement purchases can be seen in almost every data point for 2020. Throughout the year, consumers sought out products commonly used for immune health, stress relief, and digestive support, likely in response to pandemic-related stressors. However, sales of products for age-related concerns, such as prostate and heart health, also grew in 2020, which suggests that consumers were turning to herbal supplements for both acute and chronic conditions.”

Mark Blumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of ABC, added: “These sales data suggest that millions of people seem to have realized that they have something called an ‘immune system,’ and that they can enhance its function by modifying their behaviors, including, but not limited to, an improvement of their diets, and the consumption of various dietary supplements. While there are little scientific or clinical data supporting the use of botanical dietary supplements to prevent or treat COVID-19, the fact that many consumers chose to use these products indicates a strong consumer interest in natural products as a means to improve their overall health and particularly to enhance their immune response to potential challenges.”

The report features six tables and one chart, including tables of total U.S. herbal supplement sales from 2000 to 2020 and the 40 top-selling herbs in the mainstream and natural channels. It is available for free, here.