Insights for Retailers

More consumers are seeking energy supplements

Global research shows that the number of people taking a daily supplement has increased by almost 10% in two years.

More than 25,000 people from 23 companies were quizzed by nutrition giant DSM in 2017 and this year, revealing that the numbers taking supplements every day has leapt from 28% to 37%.

The figures also revealed that weight loss is no longer among the top health concerns while those leading a busy lifestyle have pushed energy supplements into the top three sub-categories.

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A third of Brits are looking for specialist vegan products

Research by ‘scan, pay, go’ app Ubamarket reveals the meat-free habits of UK consumers:

  • Brits spend £25 per week on vegetarian and vegan products, totalling £1.3bn a year
  • 36% of meat-eaters, representing almost 19m Brits, are buying vegetarian and vegan specialist products
  • 23% – 11.77m – are stocking up gluten-free meals despite not having any intolerance
  • 31% of Brits – 16m – are eating more vegetarian and vegan meals than ever before
  • 32% of Brits – 16.7m – are consciously trying to eat less meat, for reasons ranging from their health to the environmental impact of the agriculture industry
  • 26% of Brits said that trends like Veganuary and Sugar Awareness Week are shaping their shopping habit.

Half of British consumers would pay more for eco-friendly packaging

Eight out of 10 UK consumers are doing their best to slash their plastic waste, and 46% of them would pay more for eco-friendly packaging.

YouGov research highlighted in The Guardian indicates that households want to get behind the eco drive and by paying more will enable companies to find alternatives to single-use plastics.

Young people lead the way with 51% of respondents aged between 18 and 24 expressing a sense of guilt about environmental damage, not nearly so marked by consumers in their 50s.

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Cut and dried – halting the decline in dried fruit sales

The UK’s leading dried fruit businesses have come together in a bid to dispel consumer myths around the consumption of dried fruit.

The Dried Fruit Alliance (DFA), consisting of Whitworths, Sun Maid, Californian Raisin Administrative Committee, the California Prune Board and the National Dried Fruit Trade Association, aims to re-educate consumers about the perceptions of the category, such as dried fruit being bad for dental health, for which there is no medical evidence. 


Decline has been relatively modest currently at around -2.3% but has continued for the past few years, DFA told Better Retailing Magazine. However, this is contradictory to other categories with similar natural, unprocessed and high nutrition categories such as nuts or seeds, both seeing around 10% year on year over the past few years.

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How much Brits spend on their health

The average Brit will spend more than £65,000 over their lifetime just looking after their basic health.

A poll of 2,000 adults found Brits spend an average of £1,091.26 each year on gym memberships, vitamins and supplements, prescriptions, exercise classes and healthy foods.


And over the course of a 60.3 year average adult lifespan, that adds up to £65,802.98. This figure does not take into account the £120bn we spend on the NHS each year – about £1,912 per person.

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Stand by for the VMHS surge

The consumer health market for vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements is expected to grow by an average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% to 2023, according to figures provided by the Nature’s Bounty Company at Natural Products Expo in April.

This acceleration will be driven by demand for Vitamin D (+24%), probiotics (+21%) and protein (+17%) in particular, according to Paul Chamberlain, Category Development and Product Training Director. Quoting Mintel figures, he said even fish oils, which had shown a decline between 2014 and 2018, would grow by a CAGR of around 7%.

Multivitamins alone generated nearly £218m in value in 2018 but will grow to £320m by 2023, while vitamin D will grow from £15m to £45m in the same period. He said the Big Five sub-categories were general health with a £79m sales value in 2018, followed by joint and bone (£77m), women’s health (£57m), energy (£40m) and beauty (£39m), (source: Euromonitor).

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Vegan, fermented food, beauty and CBD all boosted at Natural Products showcase

Natural & Organic Products Europe served up pioneering trends, thought-provoking debates and ‘better-for-you’ innovations in April. With 700 exhibitors showcasing the best choice of natural, certified organic, vegan, Fairtrade and free-from food, drink, VMS, cosmetics, skincare and eco living, the London trade show saw an attendance of 10,298 (up 3% on 2018’s figures).

“CBD was massive,” reported Lisa Gawthorne, MD of Bravura Foods. “The uncertainty surrounding the novel foods listing certainly doesn’t seem to be prohibiting innovation.” Fermented foods and drinks were popular, she added.

“Beauty seemed bigger than ever – it’s nice to see such a focus on ethical and cruelty-free beauty and displayed in a really professional manner.

“The show was the busiest we have seen it in years – everyone wants to talk anything vegan right now with it continuing to be the biggest food trend the market has seen.” Her presentation on vegan food was one of the best-attended talks, filled with retailers keen to find out more about how they can increase in-store sales of plant-based and vegan products.


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Grocery continues its shift away from supermarkets

Consumer analyst Nielsen reported an April increase of 5.9% in consumer spending in the grocery sector but confirmed there was a continued shift away from the ‘big four’ supermarkets.

Unseasonably warm weather coupled with Mother’s Day and the late Easter bank holiday weekend all contributed to the improvement in sales growth. For the week ending Easter Saturday (20th April), overall sales peaked at +15% as shoppers bought into attractive seasonal offers that complemented the warm weather, both in store and online.

Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda saw their combined market share fall to 64% between February and the end of April.

Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK Head of Retailer and Business Insight, said: “The underlying trend here seems to be that economising rather than compromising is still the key consumer mindset. Looking ahead, it will be important for retailers and brands to keep up sales momentum through increased promotional activity as we head into the summer of 2019 in order to match the levels of last year’s hot summer.”

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Fairtrade Fortnight success in numbers

Fairtrade Fortnight (end of February/beginning of March) attracted an additional 10,000 supporters and reached a million people through its campaign events. More than 50 Fairtrade partners were involved, while campaigners organised 4,000 events.

Kantar research revealed that nine out of 10 people are now aware of the Fairtrade mark and 35% remembered the Fairtrade message. Widespread media coverage was generated and 75 MPs attended the All Party Parliamentary Group receptions.

In April, the Government invited Michael Gidney, Chief Executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, to join the Government’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group to represent the voice of NGOs and the millions of farmers that the UK relies on across the world for produce.

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A stigma that is more than skin deep

The social stigma around skincare conditions is steadily increasing. With the popularity of social media affecting mental health, and chemical companies increasingly promising quick-fix solutions, it’s no surprise that seven out of 10 Brits who suffer from skin care conditions report feeling self-conscious.

Research by Grahams Natural, an Australian therapeutic skin care company, explored how people are affected by common skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Shockingly, nearly one in three (29%) have been discriminated against and excluded socially because of the condition of their skin. Men with skin conditions are twice as likely to have felt this, with 38% reporting exclusion or discrimination, compared to 19% of women.

The self-consciousness brought on by these skin conditions also leads to deeper problems. Half of those that suffer with eczema, psoriasis or rosacea say they are anxious or depressed as a result.

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Keeping an open mind on ‘fad’ diets

The high-fat, low-carbohydrate keto diet is enjoying spectacular popularity at the moment, but will it remain relevant in the years to come? Mintel’s Global Food Analyst Melanie Zanoza Bartelme believes it would be wise to keep an open mind.

“Walking around the floor at Natural Products Expo West in California this year, it was evident that keto was continuing its moment in the spotlight,” she said.

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Growth of the 'Natural Health Service'

The number of Brits turning to natural remedies instead of visiting their doctor is growing with 21% turning to alternatives such as homeopathy, nutritional therapy, therapeutic massages and herbal tonics.

According to a study from the School of Health, 48% prefer to find their own remedies while the average Brit takes nine vitamin and mineral supplements a month.

One in five believe they have to see their doctor less because of the natural remedies they use to ward off illness. A further fifth is considering using herbal medicine, while 16% would experiment with homeopathy and 15% considering nutritional therapy.

Mani Norland, Principal at The School of Health, which commissioned the report via, says: “Busy waiting times and overloaded medical professionals mean many people find it easier to fend for themselves.

“Add to this a growing mistrust of pharmaceutical companies, and it’s little surprise many adults are looking for more natural solutions to stay well.

“People feel more empowered to take responsibility for their own health and do their own research, and the survey shows that many choose natural medicines because they feel they are safer, less toxic with little or no side effects.”

Pack it in

In a survey of UK adults by delivery management company Whistl, 75% of respondents said they wanted e-retailers to minimise parcel packaging waste and use environmentally friendly materials for packaging their online purchases.

Seaganism makes a splash

First came the term ‘vegetarian’, then ‘flexitarian’ before ‘vegan’ became the hip foodie word of the decade. Now UK seafood authority Seafish has come up with ‘Seagan’ as part of a campaign to promote fish as part of a healthy diet when combined with plant-based dishes.

Chief Executive Marcus Coleman says: “The health benefits of eating seafood are well documented and, coupled with the benefits of a plant-based diet, seagansim presents a sustainable, tasty and flexible diet for people of all ages and stages of life. Our Think Seagan campaign will inspire and educate those looking to make changes to their diet.”

Environmental concerns

New Mintel figures show that more than half (55%) of UK buyers of soap, bath and shower products would consider buying products with reduced/no plastic packaging, rising to 68% of over-65s. Just under half (47%) are interested in buying refillable products and 42% would consider using products with an all-natural formula. Four in ten want palm-oil free products.

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