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As British Summer Time ends once again and with sunshine in short supply, new research from Mintel reveals the nation’s use of the sunshine vitamin is growing faster than any other vitamin supplement. 

Usage of Vitamin D has risen 8 percentage points in the last 12 months*, and, today, it is taken by 38% of VMS users, up from 30% in 2019. The growth of Vitamin D outshines all other vitamins. With the exception of Vitamin C, which grew marginally (up from 28% to 29%), usage of all other single vitamins has declined (Vitamin B Complex, A and E) over the same 12 month period. Overall, usage of ‘multivits’ (the catch-all vitamin) has remained stable at 51%.

New product development is on the rise as well; according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD) there has been a 20% increase in new product launches containing Vitamin D from January to August 2020 compared to the whole of 2019, as brands respond to the nation’s insatiable appetite for Vitamin D.

Emilia Greenslade, Mintel OTC and Personal Care Analyst, UK, said: 

“The rise in Vitamin D usage is likely due to its associations with immunity and memory improvement. Highly publicised research linking Vitamin D with protection against COVID-19 may have also impacted usage, although this has been challenged by NICE which concluded that there is no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to prevent or treat COVID-19. Government advice may have also impacted usage, with the government advising that people consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of Vitamin D as social distancing sees people spend fewer time in the sunlight and more time indoors.”

Vitamins and supplements market set to hit almost £500 million

Following slow and steady growth in 2019, the vitamins and supplements market is predicted to see a five year record rise in value of 9% in 2020, reaching £494 million as health conscious Brits dose-up their vitamin intake. The popularity of vitamins shows no signs of waning with the market set to top the half a billion pound mark (£515 million) in 2021. By 2025, sales are forecast to reach £559 million, increasing an estimated 13% since 2020.

Heightened popularity of vitamins is likely to be a result of COVID-19, as according to Mintel research, a quarter (24%) of VMS users have taken more VMS as a result of the virus outbreak. Immune health has become a priority since the pandemic began, with 36% of VMS users taking them to strengthen their immune system and around one in seven using them to improve their mood (15%) and combat stress (13%).

As of July 2020, the market was yet to attract new users with daily (36%) and occasional** (24%) usage of VMS showing little change since 2019.

Emilia Greenslade, OTC and Personal Care Analyst, UK, said: 

Undoubtedly, consumers are more worried about their health following the outbreak of COVID-19, and are seeking out preventative measures in the long term, including taking vitamins and supplements. Strong consumer demand for VMS in the initial weeks of the epidemic led to stockpiling which impacted availability of these products. While supply chains quickly returned to normal, demand has continued to remain high. But despite the boost in sales, the number of users remains the same with the rise in value of the category in 2020 driven by increased usage amongst existing users. Driving habits amongst occasional users is essential to ensure long-term engagement and sustained value growth, and brands can do this by using apps to set reminders and create schedules or offering specialised plans giving consumers more structure to routines.”

Mintel commissioned consumer research to assess usage of and behaviours towards vitamins and supplements. Research was carried out among 1,978 internet users aged 16+ in July 2020.

* Mintel surveyed respondents’ usage frequency of vitamins and supplements from June 2019 to July 2020.

** Mintel asked respondents in July 2020: “How often have you taken vitamins, minerals or dietary supplements in the last 12 months?” 24% responded with “Occasionally (when I need them/remember to take them)”.