The food supplement market is in decline in Europe

The food supplement market is in decline in France

Gourmet and fun, gel gums are dusting off the food supplement market and are a hit in Europe with consumers who were previously resistant to austere capsules. But gobbling down these “gummies” like candy is not necessarily without danger.

It’s much less medicinal and can easily be adopted into routine. For example, these melatonin gums that help you sleep come in forest fruit or mango-banana flavors, they’re delicious, I take them with pleasure myself.“, explains to AFP a pharmacist from the center of Paris who prefers to remain anonymous.

Melatonin for better sleep but also keratin for hair, biotin for nails, medicinal plants for pre-menstrual syndrome, treatment of magnesium, iron or vitamins: these brightly colored bottles – omnipresent in pharmacies, supermarkets and on internet – compete with promises of health, beauty and well-being with regressive erasers in the shape of animals, stars or fruits.

Historically this market came from confectionery, with bovine gelatin and a lot of sugar, but today’s gummies are very different and the idea is no longer to have a candy: ours are 100% fruit pectin and the vast majority without sugar“, summarizes Nicolas Brodetsky, CEO of Havea, to AFP.

This group from the west of Europe, already specialized in food supplements, acquired in 2022 Bears with Benefits, a German “gummies” company whose turnover should reach 50 million euros at the end of 2024. Its gummy bears are sold between 19.90 and 29.90 euros per box of 60 units.

The idea of ​​a gum is to have added value in prevention and natural health for a population aged 25 to 40 who does not necessarily want to swallow a galenic (form, Editor’s note) resembling a medicine“, highlights Mr. Brodetsky.

We see gummies everywhere, we have the impression that it’s a fashion, but if it sells so much, it’s not only because all the players are getting into it but also because the consumer can relate to it. , we see it in the re-purchase figures“, adds David Gueunoun, founder of Mium Lab.

A multi-billion global market

Initially called Les Miraculeux, this brand was one of the pioneers of “gummies” in Europe in 2019 and says it is doubling its turnover each year.

Today, dozens of start-ups and large laboratories have launched into food supplements in the form of gums, a segment which represents between 4 and 25 billion dollars in turnover worldwide according to various market analyses.

If sales in pharmacies benefit from advice from a pharmacist on the dosage (between 1 to 2 per day, rarely more), this is not the case in supermarkets or on an internet site.

The problem with food supplements is that everyone can take them, and they are less controlled since they are not medicines.“, summarizes Joëlle Micallef, pharmacologist and president of the French addictovigilance network.

She explains that there is “sometimes some surprises, either because the product is not displayed, or in quantities larger than those mentioned“, citing cases “of gummies sold in CBD stores where there was not only CBD but also much stronger synthetic products which led people to the emergency room to whom the seller had told that it could only do them good“.

These cases notably led the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) in 2023 to ban products based on hexahydrocannabinol (HHC), a molecule derived from cannabis, in Europe.

Ms. Micallef also deplores certain “therapeutic allegations” and warns against possible “much higher concentrations which can induce interactions with drugs“.

We have never been reported to have any cases of overdose, and the dosage is very clear on our boxes.“, would like to emphasize Nicolas Brodetsky for Havea, according to whom “the less sugar you add, the less likely you are to have it all day long“.

For David Gueunoun of Mium Lab, “overdose in reality doesn’t exist, maybe someone will have an easier time taking three rather than two because it’s good and we have them on the desk, but we’re not going to eat the box because it has a cost“.