Better brains, better guts: Natural Grocers picks out trends for 2023

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - Tom Merton
©Getty Images - Tom Merton

Related tags Omega-3 fatty acid Omega-3 fatty acids Docosahexaenoic acid Eicosapentaenoic acid EPA and DHA Gut health microbiome gut health ingredients

Omega-3s and gut health ingredients will see greater demand in 2023, according to new projections by supplement retailer Natural Grocers.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, to use the company’s full name, is a 150 plus store chain based in Lakewood, CO.  The company sells natural and organic foods as well as devoting a significant amount of store square footage to the sale of dietary supplements. 

In a recent trends report, the company projected that EPA and DHA will be in increasing demand in the coming year.  These ingredients, among the oldest dietary ingredients in the supplement trade, made their mark as cardiovascular health aids.  Decades of research has borne out the notion that having higher levels of these long chain fatty acids in the blood confers a lower risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke and other complications.

Getting your head (and your gut) right

But it a subsidiary indication that will drive most of the uptick in demand for omega-3s in the coming year, the company said.  It has to do with the combined stimuli of the waning pandemic, inflation and war, which has put consumers in a dark mood.  Indeed, a recent report by market research firm IRI noted that a measurement of consumer sentiment conducted on monthly basis by the University of Michigan sank in 2022 to its lowest level in more than 50 years.

“Studies show that people with higher levels of EPA and DHA are less likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders, and people who already struggle with these conditions can greatly improve their symptoms when they increase their intake of EPA and DHA,”​ the report said.

The Natural Grocers report also noted that the recent strong surge in gut health research is starting to have an effect on consumers’ mindsets.  Consumers are now aware that having a healthy gut can go a long way toward promoting general overall health as well as helping to ward off the onset of chronic diseases.

“Digestive comfort and gut health were the most requested topics for one-on-one coaching sessions with Natural Grocers’ Nutritional Health Coaches (NHCs) in 2022, and new data from a Garden of Life survey reveals almost all of us—89%—report that digestive issues are keeping us from feeling our best,” ​the report stated.

New delivery modes for ACV

A third trend picked out by the report is the increasing popularity of apple cider vinegar (ACV) products.  The popularity of ACV was first driven by the years of tireless promotion conducted by the founders of the Bragg brand of ACV.  (The company is now owned by Swander Pace Capital.) That legacy has brought the term ‘The Mother’ to public consciousness.  It refers to ACV that is unfiltered and still contains yeast cells, polyphenols and metabolites left over from fermentation.  Proponents of the idea claim these constituents contribute to the health properties of the products, though whatever research backing the products enjoy pertains mostly to their acetic acid content.

Be that as it may, the Natural Grocers report said consumers are on board and are seeking ways to benefit from ACV without the astringent experience of direct vinegar consumption.

“Many health enthusiasts simply can’t quite muster the courage to try it out because,​ blegh. However, modern nutrition science has brought us a plethora of ways to take ACV, beyond a straight shot in your water. 2023 will be the year to finally try out the science-backed benefits of ACV in the form of a wellness shot, sparkling drink, or even in a capsule,”​ the report said.

Will beauty-from-within finally have its day?

On the personal care front, the report postulates that 2023 will see the beauty-from-within trend come to greater fruition.  The trend has been perennially almost ready from prime time in the US for more than a decade.  But the supplement retailer’s report quotes recent consumer research that supports the notion that this is finally happening.

“A recent survey of women aged 30 and up found that 30% of respondents said they had bought an ingestible skincare product in the last year—almost DOUBLE the percentage that did so in 2017. The figure rose to 57% in the 25-to 34-year-old group,”​ the report said.

To see a copy of the full report, click here​.

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