Specialty ingredients, which go beyond the standard vitamins, minerals and herbs to provide nutritional support for specific conditions and systems, have been the driving force in supplements sales in recent years, and made up 18% of total supplements sales in 2008. These ingredients are also common in functional foods and beverages, which outpaced overall food sales in 2009 (2.7% versus 1.6%) in spite of difficulties with the overall economy.
Specialty ingredients include omega-3s and EFAs; probiotics and prebiotics; glucosamine and chondroitin; CoQ10; SAMe; and enzymes. In the functional foods arena, digestive products enhanced with probiotics and prebiotics have been one of the leading growth categories. The GoodBelly brand of probiotic-enhanced juices, for example, saw a 200% growth rate in 2009. EFA-enhanced foods and supplements have also shown strong growth, bolstered by new research and an FDA qualified health claim linking EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids to reduced risk of coronary heart disease.