TABS study: Demand for fish oil and vitamin D flattening; vitamin B still strong


SHELTON, Conn. — TABS Group on Thursday reported a small increase of 2% to $12.2 billion in vitamin sales for the 52 weeks ended in April, according to the "TABS Group Annual Vitamin Study," now in its fifth year.

This growth came despite the percentage of U.S. vitamin users in 2012 decreasing from 71% to 66%, according to the report, which cited trade-ups, price inflation and the increased usage emanating from current buyers purchasing more vitamins as drivers behind the growth.

While multivitamins remain most popular, with 75% of category buyers purchasing, others include fish oil (43%), calcium (33%), vitamins C and D (both at 32%) and vitamin B (23%).

However, buyer growth in fish oil and vitamin D, two high-growth areas in the past five years, has stopped according to the TABS report. Only vitamin B saw meaningful gains in the 52 weeks ended in April — 23% as compared with 20% in the year-ago period. “Except for vitamin B, there were no areas of growth in attracting additional buyers, which has implications for manufacturers and retailers over the next 18 to 24 months," noted Kurt Jetta, TABS Group CEO. "We project the category remains relatively flat, with growth coming from trading up existing customers."

The survey also revealed a shift from specialty retailers toward mainstream. Target, Walgreens, CVS and online sales were all big winners, with Walmart apparently stabilizing share, while catalog and nutritional specialty retailers lost share.

“Longer term, we are bullish on the category and view this as a short-term blip created primarily from unfavorable press," Jetta said. "Macro consumer trends — aging population, migration toward self-care, higher healthcare costs — point to solid gains over the next 10 years."

The TABS Group Annual Vitamin Study was conducted among 1,000 representative respondents ages 18 to 75 years.


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