Beeline to the health & fitness aisle at your local supermarket or chain retail store, and you’ll find yourself in a “magical wonderland” that many lifters describe as “heaven.”
Rocket freeze pre-workout powders for a caffeinated jolt. Birthday cake-flavored protein bars to rebuild those pythons. Horse pill fat burners that slim down the gut you owe to pizza roll binges.
It’s a fitness junkie’s playground!
But if you explore a little deeper and yank a few tubs from the shelves, you’ll realize that sports nutrition is only the icing on the cake.
Other dietary supplements — like herbs, multivitamins, and energy bars — rule the supplement industry like they’re going out of style (fad or not).
It seems like everyone has dietary capsules tucked into their bags. These 30 surprising fitness supplement industry market statistics will examine how we fill in the remaining nutritional gaps.
Top 5 Fitness Supplement Industry Statistics
- Eighty-one percent of Gen-X (35 to 54-year-olds) consume daily dietary supplements.
- Of all OTC supplements, vitamins and minerals earn the most fanfare (76%).
- Americans have nearly doubled vitamin spending since 2007.
- The FDA rarely reviews or approves OTC supplements for safety (eek!).
- The athletic community squanders over $4 billion annually on protein powder alone.
The Worldwide Dietary Supplement Industry
- The global-scale dietary supplement market is climbing steadily uphill, potentially reaching $230.73 billion by 2027.
- The dietary supplement market’s Chinese arm rang in 2018 with a $21.3 billion total market value.
- The plant-based protein push — including soy and pea powders — is both a trendy and financial hit, likely totaling $11.05 billion by 2027.
- Vitamins still rule the supplement industry with their $39.61 billion value (2019).
- Of the market’s most confident movers and shakers, soft gels and capsules carry more than ⅓ of the total revenue (34.8%).
- In 2019, over-the-counter (OTC) supplements drove 73% of the market’s total revenue.
- Thanks to their customizable dosage perks (unlike capsules), tablets still offer the most promising market growth, shoveling in $43.06 billion in 2019.
Spending by Country
Vitamins, minerals, and health supplements know no borders, and, what becomes popular in one nation, seems to travel like wildfire within a few years (likely thanks to the internet).
We know what’s trendy worldwide, but where are our biggest dietary rivals?
Here’s how valuable other global dietary market arms are, as of 2015 (in euros):
- Italy: $1,424.2 million
- Russia: $887.7 million
- Germany: $966.6 million
- United Kingdom: $737 million
- France: $683.8 million
Of course, these countries are “on par” with the United States in that most are first-world countries. Their market shares are so profitable because their citizens have the cash.
Types of Supplements
The tablet vs. capsule vs. chewable (gummy) vs. powder discussion is seemingly never-ending in the supplement universe. Is there a reason why some rule the industry while others fail?
Here’s where each type shines:
- Tablets: Break them in half to adjust dosage, last longer, and easier to swallow
- Powders: Absorb quicker into the bloodstream and have fruity tastes
- Capsules: Less GI discomfort, no taste, and rarely lose their efficacy
- Gummies: Better for children, older adults, or those who can’t swallow pills
However, it all comes down to your preference and how sensitive your digestive system is. How much of each nutrient is in the tablet, capsule, or scoop is the real deal-breaker.
U.S. Demographics for the Supplement Industry
- Millennials and Generation X are the most loyal dietary supplement consumers, with a staggering 81% of the 35 to 54-year age group hopping aboard the trend.
- In the male versus female battle, women (79%) only slightly out-purchased men (74%).
- Seven in ten young adults (18-35) infuse daily supplements into their diets.
Most Popular Supplements in America
Men and women buy supplements at near-equal rates, but you can almost certainly assume what they’re whipping out of their carts at the register are very different.
But of the most popular supplements in American adults, these take the cake:
- Multivitamins (58%)
- Vitamin D (31%)
- Vitamin C (28%)
- Protein (21%)
- Calcium (20%)
- Vitamin B (20%)
- Omega 3 (16%)
- Green Tea (15%)
- Magnesium (14%)
- Probiotics (13%)
Thinking about what each of these supplements does, this top ten list isn’t all that surprising.
For example, vitamins D and C earn insane fanfare for their immune health benefits, though one capsule a day won’t prevent the cold or flu if you’re generally unhygienic.
And protein and calcium go hand-in-hand.
Protein works wonders for nabbing that “anabolic window” amidst post-workout muscle recovery. But it’s also highly recommended in frail or sick (muscle-wasting) seniors.
Meanwhile, the bone-strengthening calcium is particularly useful for women.
Now, we know that more Americans than ever are filling their medicine cabinets with supplements, vitamins, and minerals.
But which supplements are picking up steam? And, which are no longer as popular as they once were in 1999?
Here are the changes between 1999 and 2012:
- Co-enzyme Q10 +1.6%
- Omega-3 +11%
- Probiotics +1.3%
- Green tea +2.1%
- Garlic -3.2%
- Ginseng -4.4%
- Gingko biloba -2.6%
It’s quite interesting to see how even 13 years can change how an entire nation views (and uses) health supplements. Who knows what’ll own the industry by 2030?
Dietary Supplement Industry Statistics
- The U.S. dietary supplement industry is a clear revenue-driver, with over 750,000 employees on its payrolls and yielding $14.95 billion in local, state, and federal taxes.
- From a purely economic standpoint, the supplement industry’s $122 billion financial impacts in 2016 alone were just the beginning of the future “boom.”
- Among the most unrivaled protein market leaders are Quest Nutrition, MusclePharm Corp., Transparent Labs, AMCO Proteins, and Abbott Laboratories.
- More than ever, Americans are using dietary supplements, with the Council for Responsible Nutrition reporting a record-high 77% usage across the board.
- Of all supplements, vitamins & minerals (76%), specialties (40%), botanicals and herbals (39%), sports nutrition (28%), and weight management (17%) smash past sales trends.
- To this day, the trendiest dietary supplement in the U.S. is the classic multivitamin.
- Though rogue nutritional companies market their products as “magic” weight loss pills or hair growth “miracles,” the FDA doesn’t control or monitor the supplement market.
Why Americans Are on a Health Crunch
The vitamin and supplement aisle in your local supermarket is likely longer and more diverse than ever. But why is the national supplement industry raking in so much dough?
Well … look at how our nation’s health trends are leaning:
- 36.5% are obese.
- 32.5% are overweight.
- 8.2% have diabetes
- 48% have cardiovascular disease.
- 25% are completely inactive.
- 15.1% smoke cigarettes
- 12.5% have hypertension.
When some 45% of Americans have a chronic health condition, with doctors urging them to make lifestyle changes, a trip to the pharmacy is on the way home from the appointment.
Toss a multivitamin into the cart, and that settles that.
But these trends are the bare minimum needed to overhaul your health status. They won’t prevent cancer, heart disease, mental decline, or heart attacks, as you might believe.
If Not Supplements, Then What?
The FDA hardly plays a role in which supplements hit shelves, and one capsule or two gummies a day won’t completely reverse a lifetime of bad habits.
If generic multivitamin supplements aren’t the fix, what is?
Well, it’ll take a multi-angle approach:
- A generally more-balanced diet
- Water (less juice and soda)
- More exercise (aerobic and strength)
- Less cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption
- Stress relief
However, don’t take this to mean that all supplements are fads or misleading.
For example, a 500mg calcium capsule taken twice per day — and recommended by your doctor — can make a difference if you’re at risk for osteoporosis or eat a low-calcium diet.
But so can regular strength training and a calcium-rich diet, including other calcium sources, like spinach, bread, sardines, or beans. Vitamins aren’t an “in place of” solution to health problems.
Bodybuilding & Fitness Supplement Industry Statistics
- The sports and athletic nutrition markets rake in billions annually, with the protein powder market eclipsing a shocking $4.24 billion value in 2018.
- In addition to supplemental protein powders, other sports nutrition best-sellers include energy bars and sports drinks (i.e., Gatorade).
- Whey protein and its nine essential amino acids rule the athletic market, with animal protein (67.9% market share) waging an all-out war on its plant-based competitors.
- Amino acids and proteins will likely snag a 12.8% CAGR between 2019 and 2027.
- By 2023, the global sports nutrition market will soak up an extra $30.66 billion in value compared to its 2018 high ($50.84 billion).
The Protein Type Push
One of the hottest community debates in the fitness industry revolves around protein. And, while that’s totally par for the course, the latest discussions center more on protein type (plant vs. animal).
The question is: Why do animal proteins lead the market (about 68%)?
Unlike soy and pea proteins, animal-based protein powders (like whey and casein) are the “gold standard” because they:
- Boast all nine amino acids that your body cannot make
- Have more protein per serving than plant-based alternatives
- Promote more significant protein synthesis and muscle growth long-term
- Absorb quickly in the digestive system
- Are nutrient-rich across the board
But even more intriguing is that this 68% number is unpredictably low.
Only about 5% of Americans identify as vegetarians, but the plant-based protein push is about six times that. The likely explanation is the dairy-free, low-calorie, and more nutritious blends.
There’s a Supplement for Everything
Protein understandably rules the market, though a shocking 8.9% of Americans do weightlifting of some kind.
The real doozy is how many bodybuilding supplement types there are:
- Energy drinks
- Protein bars
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- “Muscle builders”
Even though the bodybuilding supplement leg is a mere fraction of the total global market, it’s not one single product rocking the sales.
And, for elite bodybuilders who have a cabinet full of supplements, likely spending $6,000 annually on pills and powders alone, a total $30.66 billion value isn’t all that shocking.
Though it’s unimaginable for most of us.
Supplement Sales Insights
- The best-selling big-name multivitamin brands in 2019 were Bausch & Lomb Preservision and Centrum Silver, pocketing $194.7 million and $164.5 million, respectively.
- Optimum Nutrition’s hold on the supplement market is 30 years in the making.
- Bodybuilding.com’s impressive resume includes 33 million web visitors a month and three global distribution centers since its 1999 launch.
- Tiger Fitness now markets over 8,500 unique fitness products from reputable supplement brands like Optimum Nutrition and Muscletech.
- Bio-Engineered Supplements and Nutrition, Inc. (dubbed “BSN”), the proud winner of over 35 fitness company awards, has a global audience spanning 90 countries.
Does Brand Really Matter?
Since 1994, the supplement market has expanded ten-fold, from about 600 companies some 26 years ago to more than 6,000 in 2017. With that in mind, why are these companies so popular?
Well … you’d have to ask their marketing departments (and how the intended audience responds).
- Centrum Silver, the senior-focused vitamin brand, markets its multivitamins as energy boosters and joint pain relievers for active adults (not those sporting a walker).
- Optimum Nutrition is notorious for sending reps to trade shows and selling their protein tubs at gyms, but nabbing big pro athlete sponsorships didn’t hurt business either.
- BSN’s showstopper status is in the name — with “Bio-Engineered” in the title, it’s hard to believe that these supplements aren’t cutting edge.
- Bodybuilding.com is bodybuilding.com (‘nuff said).
That brings us to a new question: Does popularity always equal quality? And, does a supplement’s brand really matter?
This is where things get a little dicey.
Many of these top brands earn rave reviews from athletes, doctors, and researchers alike. With ambassadors like Abby Dahlkemper pushing your products, it’s hard to deny they work.
But when companies like ON build a monopoly in the industry, it’s hard for the little guy (smaller brands) to make a dent. Don’t assume that lesser-name brands aren’t the same, if not better.
Read reviews and look at the ingredients before opening your wallet. Yes, even it’s a big brand.
- Of those who regularly take supplements, energy (24%), immune health (20%), nutrition (19%), healthy aging (18%), and heart health (18%) are the most common goals.
- The gummy market’s steep growth is unprecedented, expecting a steady 156% boost between 2016 and 2025 ($2.68 billion to $4.17 billion).
- Americans now dump about $80/month into non-prescription vitamins, nearly double the nation’s 2007 spending ($46).
TV Doctors, Influencers, & Their “Promises”
Health, dietary, and fitness trends are always curious because you have to wonder who or what is driving them to popularity.
For example, TV doctor, Dr. Oz, is notorious for pushing bogus claims, like:
- Touting green coffee extract as a “magic weight loss cure” (his actual words)
- Suggesting that fruit-scented raspberry ketones will burn body fat
- Claiming that umckaloabo root extract can reduce cold and flu symptoms
- Insisting a baking soda/strawberry mixture could brighten those pearly whites
An unsuspecting (or naive) viewer will see his credentials, hear that he has recently uncovered a “fix” to their problem, and jump aboard the bandwagon without a second thought.
I mean, a doctor wouldn’t lie, right?
But it’s also 2021. There are 500,000+ Instagram influencers (and dare I say, pyramid scheme “huns”) shilling detox teas, belly wraps, and essential oils that supposedly work wonders.
Want to lose 15 pounds in ten days? Here’s our
laxative skinny tea. Want to get rid of that nasty cold? Here’s our lemon oil immune-boosting blend.
The question isn’t, “why are Americans investing so much in energy, immune, or nutrition supplements?” That’s a given — flu season, a 40-hour week, healthy food is expensive, etc.
The real question is, “just how reliable are these trendy supplements?”
Are we buying into the false narratives that …
- A daily vitamin C or D gummy will make you 100% immune to the flu?
- A coenzyme Q10 pill will totally nix your other heart disease risk factors?
- A caffeine “energy” pill will help you survive the workday without losing your focus?
- A glucosamine/chondroitin capsule will reverse a painful arthritis diagnosis?
And, are we doing anything else to improve these outlooks? For example, caffeine can “fix” that mid-afternoon slump at your desk. But getting more restful sleep could actually undo the fatigue.
Good health requires proper precautions (plural).
The global supplement industry edged-out a $123.28 billion value in 2019, owing its predicted 8.2% CAGR to fitness obsessions, health concerns, and skyrocketing gym access. In the U.S., where chronic illness rates recently eclipsed 40%, the national dietary supplement industry will nearly double between 2016 and 2024, topping a $56.7 billion market value.
The global protein supplement industry will likely surpass $32.6 billion in the next seven years (2027), with a predicted 8.0% CAGR following its lead. Animal proteins (whey & casein) capture a shocking 67.9% of all market revenue. However, the clean and trendy plant-based alternatives (soy & pea) and their 8.8% CAGR could eventually topple traditional protein choices.
According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), the dietary supplement market features over 29,000 unique products, launching a projected 1,000 new products each year. While the FDA doesn’t control which products land on shelves, it does record reported customer complaints — 25,412 between 2004 and 2016 (to be exact).
The supplement industry’s growth can be an equally good vs. bad mixture, depending on why we’re buying these pills, powders, and capsules at record rates in the first place.
Think about it this way.
Over 64 million Americans held gym memberships in 2019. But a startling 17.5% either let their memberships go to waste entirely or visit just once a month (or less).
Dumping $10/month into a membership is the easy part. Motivating yourself to wake up early, complete a 30-minute treadmill jog, and return the very next day triggers the eventual drop-off.
Then, there’s the nutritional perspective. Americans hop on fad diets at concerningly high rates (50%) to “magically” undo decades of poor eating habits and never-fading fast food urges.
Combined with the gym attendance stats, we walk away with two opinions:
- We know what we need to do to lose/gain weight or muscle.
- When it requires hard work, we look for quick fixes.
That begs the question:
Is the supplement industry thriving because that many Americans value nutritional balance, though over 40% of us have chronic health conditions?
Or is it because these products presumably “fill in the gaps” and offer shortcuts in an otherwise unhealthy diet and inactive lifestyle?
Hint: they certainly don’t.