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VITAMIN FIRST QUARTER SALES IN DRUG STORES INCREASE 14% TO $ 166.4 MIL.

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

VITAMIN FIRST QUARTER SALES IN DRUG STORES INCREASE 14% TO $ 166.4 MIL. led by strong growth in sales of vitamin E, ginseng and garlic supplements, according to a quarterly report compiled by Information Resources, Inc. subsidiary Towne-Oller. Similar trends were observed in retail food outlets, where the "vitamins and tonics" category grew by 10% to $ 116.7 mil. in the first quarter of 1993 compared to the same period last year. In drug stores, vitamin E sales rose 22% to roughly $ 16.1 mil., and increased 26% in food stores to an estimated $ 10.7 mil., the Towne-Oller data indicate. Vitamin E products captured a 9.2% market share in food stores and a 9.7% market share in drug stores. Vitamin E is expected to increase even more in popularity following an avalanche of news reports on a May New England Journal of Medicine study showing that the antioxidant provides a cardioprotective benefit. Boosted by continuing media coverage of studies heralding garlic's cardiovascular benefits, garlic supplement sales soared 75% to about $ 6.3 mil. in drug stores and rose 98% in food stores to approximately $ 2.6 mil. in the first quarter. Garlic supplement market share also increased in the first quarter of 1993: garlic pills netted 3.8% of drug store vitamin and supplement sales and a 2.2% market share in food outlets, according to Towne-Oller. Reports from industry support this trend: Lichtwer Pharma recently announced that its Kwai garlic tablets generated a record $ 5.5 mil. in retail sales during the first quarter in pharmacies, supermarkets and mass merchandise outlets ("The Tan Sheet" June 21, In Brief). Ginseng product sales for the first quarter more than doubled in drug stores to an estimated $ 6.5 mil., reflecting a growing consumer awareness of the herbal product outside health food stores. Ginseng products also appear to be catching on in food outlets, which historically have not carried traditional "health food" items. According to Towne-Oller, ginseng product sales in food stores jumped 415% in the first quarter to nearly $ 2 mil. Herbal products in general were the second highest H&BA "top dollar gainers" in the first quarter in food and drug stores combined, Towne-Oller noted, with an 81% increase in dollar volume. Vitamin E supplements were the number nine-ranked top gainers with a 24% jump in dollar volume, followed by vitamin C, which was ranked at number 25 overall with a 14% dollar volume increase. The number one H&BA top gainer in food and drug stores was women's replaceable razors and blades, with a 232% dollar volume increase in the first quarter. Multivitamin product sales continue to grow at double-digit rates in both food and drug stores but are losing market share to antioxidant vitamins and supplements, Towne-Oller data show. Although multivitamins led the dietary supplement category with a 31.3% market share in drug stores and a 32.7% market share in food stores in the first quarter, these figures represent a slight loss in market share from the first quarter of 1992, when multivitamins accounted for 32.1% of drug store vitamin sales and 33.8% of food outlet sales, according to Towne-Oller. Multivitamin sales increased 11% in both food and drug outlets during the first quarter to over $ 50 mil. in drug stores and roughly $ 38.2 mil. in food stores, the report notes. Retail sales of vitamin B products and calcium supplements appear to be slowing in both food and drug outlets. Vitamin B, for example, dipped from 7.2% to 6.7% market share in the first quarter in food stores, and from 8.8% to an 8% market share in drug stores. Sales of vitamin B increased 7% in food stores to about $ 8 mil. and rose 3% in drug stores to about $ 13.3 mil., according to the Towne-Oller data. Calcium supplement sales rose 9% in food outlets to an estimated $ 8.9 mil. in the first quarter but market share slipped a half share point to 6.7%. In drug stores, calcium tablet sales edged up 2% to approximately $ 15.3 mil. but lost a full share point to 9.2%. Among the vitamin and supplement categories tracked by Towne- Oller, only iron supplements showed declining first quarter sales. In food outlets, iron supplement sales fell 3% to about $ 4.3 mil. Sales decreased 4% in drug stores to approximately $ 12.2 mil. The falling sales of iron supplements can be attributed, in part, to preliminary research reports that excess iron can be harmful in some populations and to a warning issued by the Public Health Service in February cautioning parents to keep iron supplements out of the reach of children due to accidental iron overdoses among infants ("The Tan Sheet" March 1, In Brief). Sales of antidiarrheal products in food stores advanced 23% in the first quarter, reaching $ 18.5 mil. In drug stores, antidiarrheal sales grew 15% to $ 21.7 mil., the Towne-Oller report observes. Antidiarrheal caplets remained the dosage form of choice during the first quarter, with a 60.9% market share in drug stores and a 57.4% market share in food outlets. Drug store market share of liquid antidiarrheals fell 7.6 share points to 34.7% in the first quarter as sales of the liquid form dropped 6%. Tablet sales, which fell 24% in the first quarter, now hold a 4.4% share of the drug store market and a 2.2% share in food outlets. Sales of feminine hygiene products decreased in both food and drug stores, weighed down by lagging sales of douches and vaginal moisturizers. While sales of yeast infection medications jumped 22% in food outlets to about $ 21 mil., sales slipped 2% in drug stores to approximately $ 51 mil.
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