Food Supplements: how is the market going? What are consumers new expectations ?

Held mi-September in Saint-Raphaël (French Riviera), the first edition of Nutriform Business Days gave an opportunity to make a point on the food supplements market.


How is the market going ?


Globally food supplements market is in good shape, constantly growing, to reach 12 billion € in Europe last year. In 5 years, not less than 4300 new products have emerged, and 44 new laboratories have been created. Even the king of internet sales, Amazon, decided to launch its own food supplements range. Specialists estimate that the market will continue to grow fast, and the demand is already getting stronger.


What do consumers wait for?


The market evolution goes along with consumers wishes: facility of access but also advice and personal support. Therefore internet sales are increasing and more and more occur directly on pharmacies websites, or laboratories’ e-shops.

People need and look for medical caution, trust and efficacy. But consumers also challenge every details on the internet, through blogs, social networks or other webpages.

It’s very easy to look for comments and testimony about a product, a specific ingredient. E-reputation for both the brand and products became a key point !


The past years saw emerging a real need of well-being, people want to age healthier. This is of first importance when we know that, even if life expectancy has grown, we spend the last 10 years of our life unhealthy.


That’s where natural health products and probiotics arrive to offer new prevention possibilities and sometimes solutions to relieve heavy treatments side effects. Unfortunately, only 25% of doctors do prescribe this kind of products to their patients in parallel to conventional treatments.


What are new consumption habits?


Consumers are also looking for « naturalness » and « well-being ».

In Europe, about 78% of consumers do use self-medication, 60% through OTC and 40% though food supplements. Only 17% of people go to see a doctor within the week following the apparition of a symptom.


Unless efficacy remains a key parameter, conventional medication is still very often associated with side effects and this have become an obsession for consumer. They want efficacy without side effects, and are aware that natural products like food supplements can offer this kind of solution especially to answer everyday life little diseases or discomforts. Natural health products are now considered as a real and serious alternative.


This tendency of « well-being » search goes with physical activity: 41% of European citizens do have a physical activity at least once a week, and we can see everyday the growing interest toward running, the multiplication of personal coaches. Physical activity is now also prescribed to strengthen and support heavy treatments.


Sales number are reflecting this tendency: arriving first « mood and stress » just before « immunity and vitality » and « digestion ».  The interest toward sport nutrition is also increasing. 1 consumer over 2 is ready to pay more to buy a product if it is natural.


The Millennials generation (born between 1982 and 1999) are very keen on naturalness and well-being. 57% of them take dietary supplements, whereas the other don’t just because they do not need it, and not because they don’t want to. They represent a big potential for the actual and future market.


The apparition of connected devices answers the demand of personalized follow-up but also creates a need of « self-tracking ». Nowadays, 23% of consumers use a connected device, from activity trackers like connected watches or smartphone apps, connected bottles to make sure they drink enough water, to more serious medical devices to control glycemic levels and be directly connected to the doctor to facilitate everyday life.



In conclusion, consumer are more and more « informed » and aware of what they purchase. They make a strong difference between curative treatments and the need to take drugs / OTC, and prevention which is part of well-being search by focussing on food supplements and natural health products. Proves of effectiveness are part of the trust-building process, consumers want to understand. They want to be free but like to share their feelings, find advices. They look for support and this is part of satisfaction.