HFMA Health of the Nation Survey

The Survey

This research was conducted by 3gem on behalf of the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) of 10,000 adults in the UK during 29th November and 9th December 2020. The survey, one of the largest of its kind, covered a comprehensive gender, geographical and adult age representation.


  • 71.2% (69%) of the adult population are now taking food supplements, almost half, 47.6% (41%) of these on a daily basis
  • This equates to almost 20 million people now taking food supplements on a daily basis, compared to 16.5 million in the 2019 Health of the Nation Survey, a rise of 19%
  • Compared to the national average of 47.6% for supplement users taking them on a daily basis, women lead the way at 51.0%, compared to 44.5% for menOn a national basis, the comparative numbers are:
    • England 47.1%
    • Scotland 49.1%
    • Wales 55.8%
    • N Ireland 46.4%
  • In England, London leads the way at 57.9%. Daily supplement consumption is highest amongst the 55-64 and over-65s at 68.0% and 75.3%, and lowest amongst 25-34s at 26.9%
  • More than one-third, 37.2% (35.2%) feel they do not get the right amount of vitamins and minerals through their daily diet
  • Women feel this most strongly at 43.5%, whereas with men this is only 30.5%. This is felt most strongly in the 35-44 age group at 41.4% compared to only 26.3% in the over-65s
  • Nearly a third, 30.7% (25.7%) have started taking supplements in the last year
  • In men this is 27.8%, and women 33.4%. In the 18-24 age group this rises to 39.2%
  • 60.7% are taking food supplements ‘for general health and wellbeing’, 24.3%  ‘for vitamin deficiency’, 20.5% ‘for joint health’ and 20.4% ‘to optimise my health’

Industry Facts

Industry overview

Key industry-related market statistics:

  • The UK vitamins and supplements market enjoyed growth in 2015, with value sales rising 2.2% to £414 million
  • Usage of vitamins and supplements increased in 2015-16, with 65% of all adults having taken some form of vitamin or supplement either daily or on an occasional basis in the 12 months ending June 2016, vs 63% in the previous year
  • The market has also benefited from an increase in the number of daily users, with the proportion of people taking supplements every day up 5 percentage points from 2015-16
  • Whilst men are less likely to use vitamins or supplements than their female counterparts, the proportion of men taking them on a daily basis increased significantly from 2015-16, illustrating men’s increased engagement with their own health and personal care
  • Demographic-specific supplements proved a key contributor to total category value sales in 2015, with strong growth in value sales of products targeted at men (+29%), women (+3%), children (+9) and the over-50s (+6%) in the year to May 2016
  • The overall category is predicted to see a steady rise in value sales in the long term, driven in part by the ageing population, as well as increased engagement with male audiences
  • The best- and worst-case forecasts take the value of the vitamins and supplements market from an expected £421 million in 2016 to £475 million (best case) and £439 million (worst case) in 2021. Based on predictions of the population of adults, however, Mintel estimates the market to achieve a total of £457 million in value sales in 2021

Source: Mintel – ‘Vitamins and Supplements’ report, UK, Sept 2016

Comparative consumer spending

On occasion the UK media calls into question the amount spent by UK consumers on food supplements annually (c. £400m), questioning the value gained. When doing this it is perhaps worth considering the following:

Compared to what they spend on food supplements, British consumers spend*:

  • 25 times that on tobacco
  • 15 times on chocolate
  • 7.5 times on their caffeine habit
  • 2.5 times on pies
  • Twice as much on Valentine’s Day
  • The same on gin

More specifically, compared to the annual spend on multivitamins:

  • More than 3 times is spent on gin
  • More than 6 times is spent on Valentine’s Day
  • More than 25 times is spent on pies

And, the annual spend by women on folic acid supplements*, is exceeded by:

  • More than 20 times on gin
  • More than 40 times on Valentine’s Day
  • More than 50 times on pies

(*HFMA estimates)

Sales of food supplements may reach £500m by 2022

30m adults now take food supplements every week, 45% of these on a daily basis

The natural health industry supports over 20,000 UK jobs

Industry articles

Below is a selection of articles prepared by the HFMA for publication in various Trade Magazines. Whilst accurate at the time, they have not been updated.

Health Food Business Magazine

TypeDocument NamePublished

August 2012 Business is Like Riding a Bike 09/02/2021 3:03 pm

December 2012 What is a Medicinal Plant 09/02/2021 3:03 pm

June 2012 My Jules Moment 09/02/2021 3:03 pm

May 2012 Chair Update Shifting Landscape 09/02/2021 3:03 pm

November 2012 And So It Begins Again 09/02/2021 3:03 pm

October 2012 Everything in Moderation 09/02/2021 3:03 pm

September 2012 Our Amazing Jubilee and Olympic Summer 09/02/2021 3:03 pm
TypeDocument NamePublished

December 2011 Do We Make a Difference 09/02/2021 3:03 pm

November 2011 All Roads Lead to Berlin 09/02/2021 3:03 pm

Natural Products Magazine


New Natural Business

TypeDocument NamePublished

New Natural Business HFMA Feature Feb 2020 09/02/2021 3:02 pm

Media & Events

Media Contacts

For all media enquiries, please contact:

Sarah Winterbottom
ROAD Communications
3rd Floor
12 Hammersmith Grove,
W6 7AP

Telephone: + 44 (0) 208 995 5832
E-mail: hfma.road@roadcommunications.co.uk

Media Releases

TypeDocument NamePublished

HOTN Survey Trade 02 02 21 10/06/2021 5:49 pm

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