HEALTH

Herbal supplement industry sees sales increase for 2008

BY Michael Johnsen

AUSTIN, Texas Herbal dietary supplement sales in the United States increased slightly in 2008, reaching a total estimated figure of $4.8 billion, according to a recent report published in the quarterly journal HerbalGram, the American Botanical Council announced Friday.

“Many people believe that herb sales may be somewhat recession-proof,” stated Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC, editor of HerbalGram, and one of the authors of the herb market report. “It is highly likely — and the sales data support this — that many consumers, particularly those without health insurance to cover costs of conventional medicines, may be purchasing herbal supplements to help manage some of their health needs.”

The top-selling herbal singles of 2008 in the food, drug and mass market channel, according to IRI, are cranberry, soy, garlic, saw palmetto and ginkgo biloba. The five top-selling single herbal supplements of 2008 in the health and natural food channel, according to SPINS, were flaxseed oil, wheat grass and barley grass, stevia, aloe vera and milk thistle. These rankings do not include combinations containing multiple herbs.

“There is vast opportunity for innovative herbal products to move outside the category and into the food and beverage universe with the potential of attracting new shopper segments,” commented Mary Ellen Lynch, SPINS director of consumer insights and a co-author of the herb market report. “For example, the antioxidant turmeric, which continues to grow in the natural channel, has this potential due to its link to multiple health benefits, including cardiovascular/liver/brain health, that align well to the mainstream consumer’s growing interest in health and wellness.”

The sales figure is based on data from multiple market research firms — including Information Resources, Inc., the Nutrition Business Journal and SPINS — and found that total herb supplement sales rose by nearly 1% over 2007 sales.

In mass markets, sales of herbal supplements increased more than 7.2% to $289.2 million in 2008, ABC noted, citing IRI year-end data. In the natural and health food channel, herbal supplement sales totaled $329.1 million, according to SPINS data.

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Obama names NYC health commissioner new CDC director

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA President Barack Obama has chosen a new director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New York City health commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, an infectious disease specialist, is expected to take office next month, according to reports.

Pres. Obama has eyed to shift Frieden to the post for quite some time, reports said Friday. The health official led such crusades as banning smoking in restaurants and bars, and made the city the country’s first to ban the use of trans fats, which clog arteries and raise the risk of heart disease, from food prepared in restaurants, Reuters reported.

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Three N.Y. schools close for H1N1 outbreak, assistant principal in critical condition

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Just when it seemed fear of the H1N1 influenza outbreak had subsided, three New York City schools closed Friday, with one school official in critical condition.

Education Department spokeswoman Margie Feinberg said maintenance crews were thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting two middle schools and one elementary school in Queens County where hundreds of students were sent home sick this week, the Associated Press said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the school closures Thursday evening, saying four students and the assistant principal at the Susan B. Anthony middle school in Hollis have documented cases of swine flu. The assistant principal is said to be on a ventilator and in critical condition.

Meanwhile, the New York City Department of Education has developed a Web page to assure parents that the situation has been recognized and is being taken care of.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported over 4,700 cases of H1N1 across 47 states, including four deaths.

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