Massive changes under way for supplement industry, experts say

WASHINGTON The dietary supplement industry will likely contract through acquisition, witness changes in consumer activity and more emphasis on manufacturing standards within the next 18 to 24 months, according to a panel of experts who spoke at the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s recent annual meeting, the association stated Thursday.

The panel experts agreed that the slumping economy will have a negative effect in terms of growth on the number of dietary supplement companies in the marketplace. Harvey Kamil, whose company, NBTY, has grown over the past several years in part by purchasing other dietary supplement companies, noted the economy is already affecting the availability of financial capital. He added that consolidation will continue and that financial issues will also play a role in shrinking the number of companies manufacturing and marketing supplements. “With the new good manufacturing practices, as well as other financial pressures, we’ll see that many companies can’t handle the financial pressures and the industry will shrink in size.”

However, the current focus by the presidential candidates on preventative healthcare could help the dietary supplement industry gain consumer growth, particularly if that emphasis continues following the November elections. “I believe that we’ll see a growth in nutraceuticals over the next few years, in part, due to the [high] cost of pharmaceuticals,” commented George Pontiakos, president and chief executive officer of BI Nutraceuticals. “Consumers increasingly recognize that they own the responsibility of their healthcare.”

The panel participants also suggested that one of the greatest opportunities in the supplement industry is helping consumers and the medical community recognize that dietary supplements are mainstream, and are no longer “alternative” products, but rather are an integral part of health and wellness.

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