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How Is E-Commerce Impacting the Global Supplement Market?

The supplement industry has been impacted by the COVID pandemic in so many ways—including the surge in e-commerce sales. Here’s a look at how e-commerce is influencing the global supplement market during the pandemic and what supplement companies can expect going forward. 

Online Supplement Sales Surge

Once the COVID-19 pandemic began, consumer demand for supplements—especially immunity-associated supplements like vitamin C and elderberry, as well as general wellness supplements—quickly rose. With governments soon imposing lockdowns and many consumers choosing to stay in to protect against COVID, e-commerce became the new channel of choice for many supplement users. Mintel reports that 50% of current US vitamin and mineral supplement users were shopping more online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.1

Growth in e-commerce sales has been one of the most significant changes seen in the supplement industry over the last year. For context, e-commerce had already been the fastest-growing channel in the supplement industry during the past decade. In 2019 alone, when sales in brick-and-mortar grew 2.8%, e-commerce grew by 26.5%—nearly tenfold.2 By June 2020, online supplement sales were forecast to grow an additional 61.4% that year, compared to 9.0% for mass-market retail and 5.5% for natural and specialty retail.3

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Long-Term Changes in Supplement Purchasing Expected

Now, the big question for every supplement manufacturer is what will happen to consumer demand post-pandemic. When vaccination rates are up and lockdowns have ended, will consumers return to their prior purchasing habits? This question touches on consumers’ interest in the in-store browsing and shopping experience, as well changes in their supplement needs in the future.

According to Nutrition Business Journal, many of the consumers who switched to online supplement purchasing during the pandemic will continue to do so, with online supplement sales forecast to grow from $5 billion in 2019 to more than $10 billion in 2022 (reaching 19.6% of all supplement sales).4 The shift by consumers to online platforms is expected to have long-term impacts on the supplement industry, with e-commerce becoming the third largest channel in 2020, after natural and specialty retail and mass-market retail.5

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Most Online Growth Forecast for Vitamins and Herbs/Botanicals

All supplement segments are expected to see growth in e-commerce through the forecast period ending 2023, including vitamins, minerals, herbs/botanicals, sports nutrition, meal supplements, and specialty/other.6 However, the largest online growth is forecast for vitamins and herbs/botanicals, with both segments expected to reach $3.1 billion in 2023 (vitamins up from an estimated $2.2 billion in 2020 and herbs/botanicals up from $1.9 billion).7

Meeting Consumer Needs

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly brought new supply chain challenges to the supplement industry but also some important lessons and key opportunities. A recent FMCG Gurus report reveals that 58% of global nutritional supplement users want to see supplements available online.8  The supplement manufacturer that can address consumer preferences in both products and channels will be well-positioned for success in the years ahead.

Here at Glanbia Nutritionals, we are committed to keeping our customers up to date on the latest trends affecting the industry. As a global leader in nutritional formulation , we have an extensive portfolio of bioactive ingredients and micronutrients, as well as expertise in formulating custom nutrient premixes to bring you the edge  you need to succeed in today's supplement market. Join us for our next live event to get started on creating the perfect immune health supplement product for your consumers with our insights and expert regulatory panel!


1. Mintel, Vitamins and Supplements: Inc Impact of COVID-19 - US, August 2020.
2-7. NBJ, Supplement Business Report, June 2020.
8. FMCG Gurus, Exploring the Impact of Nutritional Supplements - Global, September 2020.

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