Wellness Boom: Get Ready for the Coronavirus-Driven Wave of Immunity-Boosting Natural Supplements

Even before the Coronavirus swept across the planet and drove most of humanity into self-isolation and social distancing, there was a significant and long-lasting wellness boom.

While some predict there will be a surge of babies born at the end of the year, there is a much safer — and more lucrative — bet to be made: American wellness brands will introduce a slew of new functional food products as worldwide consumers begin to reset their priorities.

Foods that contain immunity boosters like Vitamins C and D, or less mainstream ingredients like elderberry or olive leaf extract, are already surging, and data insights point to this trend snowballing in a big way over the coming months as life * hopefully * returns to some semblance of normalcy.

Israeili-based food intelligence startup Tastewise analyzes billions of data points across social media, online recipes and online menus to assess up-to-date consumer trends. Tastewise describes the growth it is seeing for Internet searches for “functional foods” — products that serve a purpose beyond mere sustenance, like “immunity-boosting” or “stress relief”— as “staggering.”

The growth is remarkable because typically those types of searches would be decreasing at this time of year, as the cold/flu season gives way to spring. Tastewise reported 66% month-on-month growth for “immune system” as a desired function of food and beverage.

CEO Jim Emme of NOW Foods, the Illinois-based makers of natural supplements, essential oils, beauty products, and food products, told the New Hope Network that anything associated with immunity is selling three or four times more than usual. 

Over at Maypro Ventures, President Dan Lofton told New Hope he expects a “permanent expansion” in the immunity category after seeing dramatic upticks in ingredient sales for herbs like echinacea and astralagus. Lofton also said the biggest consumer motivation for use of these products will be prevention.

CEO Wyatt Taubman of Vive Organic told Forbes: “It’s possible that over the next three to ten years, concerns around the flu and boosting our immune systems will remain at a new high, and this will in turn drive purchase behavior and intent.”

Lifeaid Beverage Company provides a clear example. Its lightly carbonated and fruit-flavored ImmunityAid beverage delivers vitamins and nutrients and is normally the company’s fifth-best SKU. During one week in mid-March, it quadrupled sales at Whole Foods and is No. 1 in its category on Amazon, according to CEO Orion Melehan.

How else is COVID-19 creating growth in this space? Because retail is dealing with various supply chain issue and shelter-in-place orders in many cities, e-commerce is seeing its already robust growth explode. Foodstirs and Tosi Superbites, according to Forbes, both have more than doubled their e-commerce revenues in the most recent period.