Consumers keen to get vitamins from food rather than pills

Posted by James Ferre on 25th June 2009

Pill popping is giving way to healthier diets, according to new research from the UK.

A new report from Mintel suggests the UK’s £396 million (A$825m) vitamins and supplements market is set to be a victim of its own nutrition agenda. Improved education on diet and nutrition has been a root cause of the struggles as the nation continues to eat more healthily and cuts back on its vitamins and minerals intake.

The number of Brits popping supplements has been in steady decline since 2007, with the total number of users falling from 43% in 2006 to 41% in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of vitamin fanatics (those taking supplements once a day or more) has declined from 34% to 32% over the same 2 year period.

Vitamin devotees had previously flocked to the supplement aisles for all their nutritional needs, today, almost four in ten (38%) adults prefer to get their vitamins and minerals from their diets than from supplements. This compares to just one in four (25%) in 2005.

“Growth in functional foods and the focus on healthy eating are having a negative impact on the vitamins and supplements market,” Alexandra Richmond, Mintel’s Senior Health & Beauty Analyst, noted. “As people eat more healthily, they do not feel that they need to take additional vitamins and minerals from supplements.”

“The worsening economy has also hampered growth in the market with Brits looking at cheaper alternatives to get their nutrition. For many, vitamins and supplements are considered a non-essential spend.”

Within the vitamins & supplements market, many people are moving away from single vitamins, preferring instead dietary supplements that complement their lifestyle needs. Dietary supplements have benefited from the focus on age-related concerns notably glucosamine for joint care and omega-3 for brain function, which is masking a decline in sales of other supplements.

Just over four in ten adults would not consider using vitamins and supplements in the future. While one in five adults perceive them to be unnecessary and one in seven claim not to notice any difference when using them.

“A shift towards stripping chemicals such as fertilisers and e-numbers out of the diet may well also be putting pressure on the vitamins and supplements market owing to the unnatural tablet or capsule format of many supplements,” Ms Richmond said. “As a result the preference for natural sources of vitamins and minerals such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products is strong among many adults.”