VMS sales fall but ageing population signals brighter future

Sales of vitamins minerals and supplements (VMS) in the UK have fallen for three consecutive years according to a new report from analysts Key Note.

But its latest Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements 2011 report suggests that Britain’s ageing population ought to ensue that the category has bright future.

Key Note says that the prolonged recession, rising inflation and unemployment rates have forced many consumers to cut back their spending on non-essential items, including VMS. Its report reveals that the overall sales of VMS products has been decreasing for three consecutive financial years and most recently stood at £364m in 2010.

However, some sectors of market have endured the recession better than others, says Key Note. It says that the market for multivitamins and single vitamins has been growing for a number of years, and continued to do so in 2009/2010 and 2010/2011. The best-selling vitamin products included multivitamins, vitamins B and C. By contrast, sales of fish oils and plant oils have been dwindling over the past few years.

A consumer survey commissioned by Key Note indicated that nearly a third of the UK population takes some form of VMS product regularly. Among regular users, 72.5% believed that cod liver oil or other fish oils would keep their joints supple, while 60.1% believed taking multivitamins or single vitamins can make up for deficiencies in their diets. A further 41.2% of the regular users thought that glucosamine was beneficial to their joints and muscles. However, in line with the industry downturn, 12% of respondents said they have markedly reduced their VMS consumption.

But Key Note says it expects the industry to recover in the long term. It cites the UK’s increasingly ageing population as an important driver for long-term growth. It explains that “not only does consumption of VMS products generally increase with age, but many have been purposely formulated to target specific age-related ailments, such as heart conditions, brain function and joint care”

Nevertheless, Key Note has forecast that the total VMS market will decrease by a further 1.9% in 2011/2012. It expects the market return to growth in 2012/2013 as the economy recovers, reaching a projected value of £389m by 2015/2016.