2022 Recap - 5 Key Takeaways from the Year that Was
Can you believe that 2022 is nearing its end already? So, what has the year wrought?
Read this article or click below to listen to my podcast and get my five key takeaways and supplement trends worth noting from the year that was.
Takeaway #1: Dietary supplement usage is back to pre-pandemic levels, but immune supplements, multivitamins, specialty supplements, and sports nutrition supplements are still one of the most trending supplements in 2022
The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) conducted a 2022 Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements and shared its findings. Essentially, three-quarters of Americans report using dietary supplements, and the overwhelming majority continue to be regular users. Of particular interest is that, even though overall supplement usage is down slightly from its peak during the pandemic, usage of immunity-boosting supplements (e.g., vitamins D, C, and zinc) is steady from last year. Although COVID-19 may not be top on everyone’s mind, its legacy is that people are still keen on maintaining a strong immune system with these trending supplements of 2022.
Not surprisingly, 70% of Americans take a multivitamin. There has also been an uptick in specialty supplement use, with 52% of consumers reporting the use of omega-3s, probiotics, melatonin, and fiber. Likewise, consumer usage of sports nutrition supplements has increased by 5 points since last year, up to 39%.[i]
Takeaway #2: General economy, inflation worldwide, and supply chain issues continue to be a problem across industries
In the second quarter of this year, global output decreased due to downturns in China and Russia. At the same time, United States consumer spending undershot expectations. This hit the world economy, which was already weakened by the pandemic. Then consider higher-than-expected inflation worldwide, which was especially the case in the United States and major European economies. In turn, this triggered a tightening of financial conditions, as well as a worsening slowdown in China associated with COVID- 19 outbreaks and lockdowns—and let us not forget the negative impacts of the war in Ukraine.[ii] The good news is that in 2023, the disinflationary monetary policy is expected to bite, with global output growing by just 2.9 percent.[iii] Meanwhile, further consider the fact that a significant amount of the world’s manufacturing capacity is based in Asian countries (some European countries as well), and those countries were all hit hard by COVID-19. This caused many factories to shut down or, at the very least, reduce their production. Naturally, this had a ripple effect, resulting in the continuance of supply chain disruptions.[iv]
Takeaway #3: The FDA only inspects a small fraction of dietary supplement facilities
In the recent fiscal year, the FDA conducted nearly 500 inspections of dietary supplement manufacturers for compliance with manufacturing regulations. While this was an increase in annual audits over the previous year, that still only represents around 5% of facilities since there are as many as 10,000 FDA-registered facilities.[v] The reason for this may be a function of a friendly conversation I had with an FDA inspector back in 2017. In answer to questions that I asked her, she admitted that the FDA is woefully understaffed and unable to get close to inspecting the facilities of all dietary supplement manufacturers, let alone properly "police" the dietary supplement industry in general. So, I'm not at all surprised that the FDA is only inspecting about 5% of dietary supplement manufacturers.
Takeaway #4: Stress is on the rise, and Gen Z is especially stressed
Gallup’s 2022 Global Emotions Report found that “negative emotions—the aggregate of the stress, sadness, anger, worry and physical pain that people feel every day—reached a new record in the history of Gallup’s tracking.” Likewise, the International Food Information Council‘s 2022 Food & Health Survey reported that 56% of Americans report feeling “very” (22%) or “somewhat” (34%) stressed—with younger generations saying they’re “very stressed.” Specifically, 33% of Gen Z, 29% of Millennials, 25% of Gen X, and 10% of Boomers report being very stressed. Of particular interest is the fact that the only generation who put emotional/mental health among the top three health benefits they seek from their diet are Gen Z consumers.[vi] Consequently, stress relief supplements have significant potential—and targeting Gen Z consumers may be an especially good strategy.
Takeaway #5: Consumers want supplements based on real science
Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) survey data indicate that 75% of U.S. adults said they would likely take a supplement for immune support, but only 21% of supplement users think that immunity supplements currently available for purchase on the market are effective.[vii] This suggests that consumers want to make sure what they’re taking is based on “real science,” not “marketing science.” In fact, according to 2020’s “Exploring the Impact of Nutritional Supplements” from FMCG Gurus, when considering dietary supplements, 59% of global consumers want to see scientific evidence supporting supplement efficacy, and clinically demonstrated benefits are important to 73% of global dietary supplement users.[viii]