Curcumin may be a new discovery for many shoppers looking to add this functional ingredient to their diet, but its discovery dates back to the 19th century. turmeric (turmeric longa), the plant from which it originates has been used medicinally and as a culinary spice for thousands of years, originating in South Asia.
The recent growth of curcumin, widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties, can be attributed to consumers slowly starting to restore their normal routines and adopt new ones as quarantines and protocols put in place during the pandemic are lifted. As these shoppers step into new hobbies, they turn to products like curcumin for relief from aches and pains they’ve never experienced before.
In 2022, the sports and outdoor segment is expected to reach $74 billion in revenue, up 9.2% from 2021 (Statista). That means many consumers are branching out and using their ability to leave the home by engaging in more physical activity.
However, there are misconceptions about the differences and similarities between curcumin and turmeric. Although turmeric and curcumin are intertwined in their source, they are two different ingredients with different benefits — some experts say that curcumin is the true source of turmeric’s health benefits. However, research has shown that proper intake of curcumin extracts depends on the presence of turmeric, often bringing the two back together in a source as originally harvested (Food Funct. 2019;10:4584-4592).
A look at some of the top categories, forms, and health hotspots for curcumin may provide a better insight into the areas where it’s seeing its growth as one of the new coveted health and wellness ingredients.
Where does curcumin fit in?
Within the vitamins and supplements division, curcumin can be found in a variety of areas targeting problem areas ranging from cognitive health to immunity. Curcumin products in this category, which specifically focus on condition-specific supplements, have seen 16% growth over the past year (SPINS Natural Enhanced + MULO channels powered by IRI).
Cognitive health supplements and supplements that fall under “other” are the top subcategories driving in-store sales growth, at 30% and 15%, respectively. According to data from SPINS + ClearCut Analytics, dietary supplements containing curcumin in the “Other” disease-specific dietary supplements accounted for $40 million in sales.
take on new forms
Similar to many vitamins and supplements, gum is one of the hottest growth forms for curcumin products at 276%. Shoppers may want to add a little whimsical and sweet childhood flavor to their daily rituals. However, unlike their gummy counterparts, which are often not suitable for vegans, vegetable capsules are a plant-based delivery system that’s currently the fastest-growing and top-selling form for curcumin, with 570% growth and $17 million in sales.
Products containing curcumin are most commonly marketed as pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs, which is why curcumin sales in this healthcare space are nearly $10 million. Year-over-year growth is down 0.9% as consumers consider other ingredients like collagen for related areas of focus like joint health.
In the world of vitamins and supplements, there is a greater focus on ingredients that promote and maintain cognitive health, and curcumin is one of many. In studies of older individuals, who are the primary target group for cognitive health supplements, research found that curcumin may help improve standing mood and memory (Nutrients. 2020;12:1678). Curcumin products have grown 30.2% in the cognitive health space since 2021 as this health focus as a whole continues to thrive across all channels.
This excerpt is from the digital magazine Curcumin at the crossroads. Click the link to read it in full along with related content.
Haleigh Resetar is a West Virginia native and a graduate of West Virginia University with degrees in Journalism and Integrated Marketing Communications. Before joining SPINS as a corporate communications specialist, she worked in the communications teams of universities and healthcare institutions. As a member of the SPINS marketing team, she manages the social media profiles for SPINS and ClearCut Analytics accounts, contributes content to the company blog, and serves as the primary contact for media data requests.