Although the very first dietary supplements date back to the 18th century, the modern supplement industry took off much more recently. Only in the last few decades have sales of dietary supplements exploded to reach the once inconceivable revenue heights they attain today.
For companies in and adjacent to the dietary supplements industry, the future is bright due to rising awareness of the health benefits supplement products can provide and rising demand for everyday health support products that promote preventive healthcare.
The global dietary supplements market amounted to a value of $151.9 billion as of 2021, according to the market research and consulting company Grand View Research, Inc. By the end of 2022, the company’s dietary supplements market report predicted, increased consumption of nutritional supplements should drive the global dietary supplements market size up to $163.9 billion.
How Big Is the Supplement Industry?
Today, the global supplement industry is massive—and it’s only getting bigger.
The global dietary supplements market size amounts to around one-ninth of that of the global pharmaceutical market—which happens to be one of the largest and most powerful industries in the world and for which Statista reported a total revenue of $1.42 trillion in 2021.
The size and global and regional market growth of the dietary supplement and nutraceutical industry now have major pharmaceutical companies “racing to buy nutritional supplement companies,” Medium reported in 2022.
In the United States alone, the size of the vitamin and supplement manufacturing industry, as measured by revenue, amounted to $48.4 billion as of 2021, according to Grand View Research’s market share insights.
Based on sales revenue, the vitamins and supplement manufacturing industry is the 54th largest manufacturing industry and the 287th largest industry overall in the United States, according to IBISWorld.
What Are Supplements?
Immune health, bone health, joint health, gastrointestinal health, weight management—these are just a few of the areas of consumer awareness driving the global demand for dietary supplements.
Dietary supplements are substances you take to improve health and overall wellness rather than “curing” diseases, according to FamilyDoctor.org, a website by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Types of supplements recognized by the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements include:
- Botanical extracts and herbal supplements
- Amino acids
Dietary supplements today are available in many forms, ranging from capsules and tablets to gummies, energy bars, and other types of food, drinks, liquid supplements, and powders.
In the United States, products considered supplements include labels with the heading “Supplement Facts,” as opposed to “Nutrition Facts” (for food and beverages) and “Drug Facts” (for over-the-counter medications).
Supplements may be prescribed by a physician or purchased over the counter in drug stores or online. In 2021, more than 75% of revenue from the global supplement industry was attributed to over-the-counter supplements, according to Grand View Research’s industry analysis report.
How Many Consumers Use Supplements?
As a whole, supplement use has been on the rise in recent years. Although supplement use peaked during the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pre-pandemic usage rates to which consumers have returned are still promising.
A full 75% of American respondents surveyed in 2022 reported taking at least one dietary supplement, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition, and the “vast majority” of these consumers are “regular users” as opposed to short-term users. That’s good news for the global dietary supplements market as a whole, especially since many supplement users take multiple nutritional supplements.
Among survey respondents in the United States, 70% reported taking multivitamins in 2022, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition. Additionally, 52% of respondents take what the Council refers to as a “specialty supplement,” which includes categories of dietary supplements like probiotics, fiber, omega-3s, and melatonin. Nearly 40% of respondents reported taking sports nutrition supplements.
Public Opinion of the Supplement Industry
Perhaps because of the association between supplements and “natural” products (although not all supplements are natural), consumer opinion of the supplement industry is generally favorable. The Council for Responsible Nutrition reported that 77% of U.S. respondents belonging to the general population and 84% of self-reported supplement users considered the supplement industry to be “trustworthy” as of 2022.
This data is in sharp contrast with Americans’ overall perceptions of the pharmaceutical industry, of which only 25% of Americans surveyed reported a positive perception and 58% reported a negative perception in 2022, according to the Gallup, Inc. Americans’ Views of U.S. Business and Industry Sectors poll.
The Most Popular Supplements
When you think about dietary supplements, what type of product first comes to mind? Vitamins, workout performance-boosting supplements, probiotics, and weight management supplements are among the most widely used and well-known types of dietary supplements available on the global market.
The Most Popular Supplement Applications
The supplement uses that bring in the most money on the global market are energy and weight management, which account for over 30% of 2021’s reported global revenue from sales of dietary supplements, Grand View Research reported. Combined, these applications address two of the most popular fitness goals: boosting athletic performance and losing weight.
What other reasons are there for taking dietary supplements? Although the list of possible benefits that can arise from all types of supplements is almost limitless, the more prevalent supplement applications include the following:
- Improving general or overall health
- Boosting immunity
- Enhancing bone and joint health
- Improving cardiac (heart) health
- Promoting gastrointestinal health
- Helping to prevent cancer or aid in cancer recovery
- Managing diabetes
The Most Popular Ingredients
The single type of ingredient most common in the global dietary supplements market is vitamins. Whether sold as individual vitamin supplements (for example, vitamin D, vitamin C, or vitamin B12), multivitamin formulations, or part of performance-boosting blends like energy drinks and pre-workout powders, supplements that include vitamins as an ingredient made up 30.8% of all global dietary supplement sales revenue in 2021.
The Most Popular Forms
As supplement form goes, tablets currently make up the largest share of the global dietary supplements market, bringing in just over one-third of all revenue from dietary supplements for 2021, according to Grand View Research.
Tablets are in such high demand because of a combination of factors that include their comparatively low cost, higher shelf life, and convenience. There’s no mixing or measuring out doses required, which makes it perfect for busy workers whose lifestyle makes them rely on supplements for their nutrients in the first place. Although there are drawbacks to the tablet formation, like not allowing for controlled release of ingredients as caplets do, sales of dietary supplement tablets are still likely to see positive growth over the next near-decade forecast period for which the Grand View Research report predicted industry growth.
How Fast Is the Supplement Industry Growing?
Overall, the global dietary supplement industry is looking at an 8.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the forecast period between 2022 and 2030, based on the market growth analysis of Grand View Research, Inc. By the end of the forecast period, the total revenue from global sales of dietary supplements is expected to climb to $327.4 billion.
The U.S. market is expected to grow by 5.6% over this same forecast period, a distinction that illustrates the global nature of the modern dietary supplements market.
Prescription vs. Over-the-Counter Supplements
Just as over-the-counter dietary supplements already make up the majority of the global supplement market, experts expect these non-prescription supplements to continue to lead the market in revenue as the supplement industry continues to see growth. The Grand View Research dietary supplements market report predicted that revenue from over-the-counter dietary supplements would continue to achieve “steady growth” during the forecast period between 2022 and 2030.
Still, the prescribed dietary supplements market is likely to see considerable growth during this time, with an anticipated compound annual growth rate of 9.8%.
The Fastest-Growing Segments of the Supplement Market
Certain segments of the dietary supplements market are expected to see more rapid market growth than others.
For example, the compound annual growth rate predicted for supplements in the category of proteins and amino acids is 13.4%, or around one and a half times the rate at which the supplement market as a whole is likely to grow.
Botanical ingredients, which trailed vitamins as the second most common types of ingredients associated with 2021 sales revenue, are predicted to see a 9.2% compound annual growth rate for the forecast period between 2022 and 2030.
In its report, Grand View Research predicted a “higher” rate of growth in sales revenue generated from supplements intended to boost immunity to infectious diseases like COVID-19 due largely to the rising geriatric population. On the heels of a “surge” of increased consumer demand dating back to 2020, the firm expects immune health supplement sales revenue to climb by a compound annual growth rate of 8.8% during the 2022 through 2030 forecast period.
Overall sales of liquid supplements, as opposed to dietary supplements sold in tablet, capsule, or powder form, are expected to climb by a CAGR of 12.1% through the 2022 through 2030 forecast period, based on the Grand View Research report.
Market Growth: How Does the Supplement Industry Compare to Other Industries?
The supplement industry isn’t the fastest-growing industry, especially in the United States. Several industries—including personal services, travel, information technology, healthcare, and construction—are poised to see double-digit rates of growth over the next decade, Forbes reported in 2022.
Still, it’s undeniable that the supplement industry has grown substantially in recent decades. Rising awareness of preventive healthcare has been a key factor driving sales of dietary supplements, and global industry analysis suggests that this rising demand will only keep growing. The strong rates of predicted growth for the 2022 through 2030 forecast period highlight how much demand there is for dietary supplements of all kinds that aim to promote wellness.
Among the nutraceutical and functional foods group of industries, the dietary supplement market as a whole is growing faster than the market for certain types of supplements but on par with others. Certain supplements are predicted to grow even faster.
The growth of the dietary supplements market is expected to outpace the sugar substitutes market, for which Grand View Research anticipates a global compound annual growth rate of 5.9% and a U.S. growth rate of 5.4%, both in the United States and globally. Dietary supplement industry growth is also significantly higher than the projected rate of growth in the global commercial seaweed market, for which Grand View Research predicted a global CAGR of 2.3% and a national growth rate of 4.7%.
Grand View Research has projected higher compound annual growth rates for the whey protein market (with growth rates of 10.48% globally and 10.4% in the U.S. market) and the dietary fibers market (with growth rates of 9.2% globally and 8.7% in the U.S. market). Nutraceutical markets for which Grand View Research has predicted growth rates comparable to the dietary supplement market include:
- The fertility supplements market, with growth rates of 7.9% globally and 5.2% in the U.S. market
- The prepared flour mixes market, with growth rates of 8.0% globally and 7.2% in the U.S. market
- The algae protein market, with growth rates of 8.4% globally and 10.6% in the U.S. market
- The probiotic ingredients market, with growth rates of both 8.8% globally and in the U.S. market
- The lipid market, with growth rates of 8.7% globally and 9.3% in the U.S. market
Why Is the Supplement Industry So Successful?
Why have supplements become so popular, anyway? On the surface, the increasing demand for these health-enhancing products points to a positive reason: people being more aware of their health and prioritizing their well-being. Supplements can make up for deficiencies that leave your body functioning at less than its optimal level. Buying supplements is, essentially, investing in one’s own health and better physical and mental performance.
Underlying this apparent emphasis on health awareness, though, is a darker truth: the struggle that so many people face to get the nutrients they need through diet alone. The Grand View Research report cites “hectic work schedules” and “changing lifestyles” of working people, along with the “high convenience” of dietary supplements, as the growth factors for the nutraceuticals supplement industry. The rising prevalence of lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases show how important proper diet is to attaining wellness and how difficult people all over the world are finding it to prioritize eating a healthy diet.
Rising consumer awareness of the health impact of nutritional deficiencies has made the average consumer increasingly interested in living a healthier lifestyle. Yet, in today’s world of constant hustle, people are too busy to shop for, prepare, cook, eat and clean up the mess from the foods that would provide the optimal amounts of nutrients. The result is a greater dependence on dietary supplements as an alternative way to consume the required daily dose of the nutrients necessary for wellness.
Similarly, when busy workers do find the time to exercise, they want to maximize the benefits they get from their workouts. Sports nutrition products can help boost their energy and performance so they get better results in the time they dedicate to physical fitness. Protein supplements, pre-workout supplements, and individual ingredients like creatine are some of the popular sports nutrition products on the market today.
Stressful work and busy lifestyles aren’t going anywhere, so the problem of workers developing nutritional deficiencies due to their hectic lives will persist, as will the need these workers have for dietary supplements. This need will drive growth in both over-the-counter and prescribed dietary supplements, but the Grand View Research supplements market report noted that the number of prescribed dietary supplements is on the rise specifically for the reason of addressing diagnosed nutritional deficiencies.
Of course, poor diet isn’t the only cause of nutritional deficiencies. A person’s naturally low levels of certain nutrients may prompt them to take these supplements. Iron and Vitamin D deficiency are among the more common types of nutritional deficiencies that can be addressed with vitamin supplements and other types of supplement products. So can medical conditions that hinder their ability to absorb certain nutrients. For pregnant women, taking prenatal vitamins is important to maintain their own health throughout pregancy and provide optimal nutrients to their developing babies.
Specialty diets may also cause individuals to have lower levels of certain nutrients, even if those diets are medically necessary or otherwise beneficial in some way. These diets may also alter the formulation of supplements. For example, the rising popularity of the vegan diet—which is flourishing due to growing environmental concerns as well as health awareness—has increased the demand for botanical extracts and ingredients that align with vegan lifestyles and principles.
Who’s Buying Which Supplements?
Different types of people—that is, individuals with different fitness goals and health needs—purchase different types of supplements. Growth among these distinct populations is driving greater demand and sales revenue for certain types of supplements.
For example, serious and professional athletes, diehard fitness enthusiasts, and bodybuilders tend to make up the population that’s clamoring for protein supplements and supplements containing athletic performance-boosting amino acids. These consumers often rely on such supplements to give them an extra pre-workout boost so that they can achieve optimal physical and mental performance. For these consumers, physical fitness is a highly prioritized pastime, a way of life, or—in the case of athletes, gurus, influencers, and personal trainers—potentially even a way of earning a living.
On the other hand, weight management supplements appeal more to individuals who primarily want to manage health conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Even though losing weight may be part of a fitness fanatic’s goals, those who actively enjoy going to the gym are more likely to buy performance-boosting supplements than weight-loss ones. On the other hand, those taking weight loss supplements are likely to care more about shedding pounds and inches (and the accompanying health benefits) than about reaching peak workout performance.
The pattern of consumer spending certainly drives market growth, but there are larger factors at play than individuals’ purchasing behaviors. Some of these big-picture factors include:
- The development of healthcare infrastructure and policies that emphasize health and wellness
- The rapidly rising geriatric population, which plays a large part in the increasing demand for dietary supplements promoting joint health, bone health, weight management, focus enhancement, and other wellness outcomes
- Increasing opportunities for sports- and fitness-related career paths
- The pervasiveness of gyms, fitness centers, and health clubs that are driving the increasing adoption of supplement use
Challenges Facing the Supplement Industry
What could slow down the growth of the supplement industry? The demand for products that promote health and wellness isn’t likely to fade anytime soon. Fierce competition within the industry may pose challenges for individual product lines and manufacturing companies, but the industry as a whole should remain strong. Overall, more people are living longer, and that means taking more supplements over the course of their lives—with supplement use especially prevalent among geriatric populations.
One potential challenge for the supplement industry is increased government oversight by regulatory authorities that could change how long research and development processes take. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the same regulatory agency that oversees pharmaceutical medications, also regulates the supplement industry under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA)—but regulatory procedures and the FDA’s authority to regulate supplements are much different compared to the pharmaceutical industry.
Increased regulation of the supplement may be on the horizon, with Bloomberg Law reporting in 2019 that the FDA “plans to step up enforcement, but hasn’t said how.” More rigorous regulation practices can slow down the time it takes to get new supplements to the market but may address potentially serious issues in the supplement industry—issues that, according to PBS FRONTLINE, include mislabeled products, contaminated products, labels that make unsupported health claims, and poor or nonexistent safety testing practices.
Innovation in the Supplement Industry
The supplement industry can’t just sit back and expect consumers to keep buying the same old formulations. To keep piquing consumers’ interest in trying and buying new supplements, companies must keep making new breakthroughs in product effects and efficacy, safety, and formulation.
New supplements—that is, newly discovered sources of ingredients; newly synthesized ingredients; compounds, and solutions made through new processes; and new purposes identified for existing ingredients—are constantly being researched. Through this research, companies in the supplement industry can refine both individual products and supplement blends to offer better results. If research indicates that a new supplement offers certain benefits, key players in the supplement manufacturing industry can develop new products featuring this ingredient or integrate it into existing products in which it fulfills consumers’ needs.
It isn’t always ingredient research that drives innovation in the supplement industry but also problem-based research and development efforts. The way the development and spread of new infectious diseases and the rising prevalence of certain medical conditions are driving an increased need for innovation in the supplement industry to reflect this reality. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven demand for immunity-boosting supplements among consumers—particularly those in high-risk populations, like geriatric consumers.
A supplement’s form can matter as much as its ingredient makeup because the form of a supplement may directly affect its functionality and convenience. This, in turn, determines whether sales are made in the first place or whether a purchase constitutes a one-off mistake the buyer won’t repeat or the start of a long routine that will bring in consistent revenue for the manufacturer.
A consumer who needs products that are easy to take on the go will likely choose a product offered in tablet, capsule, or gummy formulation over messier, more demanding formulations like liquids that need to be precisely measured in a dosing cup or powder that must be blended with water. For supplement products for which controlled release of ingredients is desired, companies are working on methods of microencapsulation that will achieve these effects at a cost that is more competitive compared to that of tablets. The better companies are able to address formulation challenges that inconvenience consumers or impede supplement performance and functionality, the better their prospects for growing their revenue.
In the competitive landscape of the global dietary supplements market, the key companies to watch are the innovators that successfully market their breakthroughs. For example, the prominent personalized vitamin program company Persona Nutrition has carved out a niche developing custom-tailored supplements meant to address the unique, specific needs of individual subscribers.
With an anticipated CAGR of 8.9%, the global dietary supplement market is on track to nearly double during the 2022 and 2030 forecast period, climbing from $163.9 billion in revenue to $327.4 billion.
The supplement industry may not be the largest or the fastest growing—and it’s still only a fraction of the size of the giant pharmaceutical industry—but supplements will continue to present opportunities for companies in this space and investors and remain an area of consumer goods with consistently high demand.