Interest in vitamin-immunity link boosts Italian food supplement sector: Survey

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/
©iStock/

Related tags: FederSalus, coronavirus, Vitamins

The coronavirus has led consumers to include food supplements as a core shopping item, an industry survey finds, as recognition grows amongst customers in their role in preserving health and wellbeing.

According to the FederSalus survey​, the coronavirus crisis has captured consumer attention of supplements’ role in maintaining good health as evidenced from purchases in local and online pharmacies.

In results comparing the first quarter 2020 vs. 2019, the value of online pharmacies jumped 64% to €82m with dietary supplements representing half of this total value.

Further results of some of the main supplement categories in the first quarter of 2020 vs. 2019 found purchases for vitamin C jumped 237.8%, immunostimulants by 64.5% and supplements for sleep and relaxation by 26.6%.

This is despite local and online pharmacies making up 3.7% as a channel in which consumers can access food supplements during the lockdown.

Industry a ‘spearhead’

“The food supplement industry in Italy is a spearhead both in terms of consumption and production, ranking among the most successful driving forces fostering economic recovery and for which we look forward to getting the institutions’ support,”​ says Andrea Zanardi, president of FederSalus,’ a Rome-based industry group representing organisations operating in the food supplement sector.

“At this difficult time, consumers have included food supplements among fundamental purchases, recognising their role in preserving health and wellbeing.

“Faced with a product that has become part of consumer habits and with a thriving market, regulatory issues are crucial at a European level.

“For this reason, one of FederSalus’ priorities is to strengthen the area in which our companies move, hoping that regulation feedback will foster dialogue on the contents and on reliable scientific data.”

Further findings of the survey, which questioned 102 FederSalus member companies and 41 non-associated companies in web-based interviews, also reveals sales for supplements to address respiratory complaints increased by 75.2%, throat (12.1%) and vitamin B (10.9%).

Impact on turnover

In a sample of 65 companies, findings reveal that the virus’ impact on company turnover was minimal at least during the period of March 2020 when compared to the same month in the previous year.

“The impact of the emergency was positive or null for about 2/3 of the companies, considering that the supplement market registered a 5.3% growth in value and 3.2% in units compared to the same month in 2019,”​ says the FederSalus-led survey.

In contrast, data for the month of April was reversed. Here, the turnover compared to the same month of 2019 was negative for around 2/3 of the companies with 20% also expressing a ‘null’ opinion.

The survey states that at the end of 2019, the food supplement market in Italy reached a retail price value of about €3.6bn, an increase of 3.6% in value compared to 2018.

The survey identifies Italy as the main supplement market in Europe with a 27% share. Here, 32 million Italians (65% of the adult Italian population) identified as supplement users with vitamins and minerals proving the most popular category.

In 2019, this category was worth €673m having an average annual growth rate of 4% between 2017 – 2019.

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