The segment saw sales rocked by $3.8m to $18.8m last year, delegates at the Natural Products New Zealand Summit heard.
According to Hayley Turner, from research firm IRI worldwide, much of the growth can be attributed to popularity of Arthrem – a supplement containing extracts of Artemisia annua.
Immunity was the second fastest growing product grouping with sales rising by $1.7m to $33m, buoyed by a boom in liposomal vitamin C products.
Products for muscular relief came third, rising by $1.38m, followed by digestive supplements (up $0.89) and then energy (up $0.85m).
The biggest loser was fish oil products, dipping by $1.4m to $14m. This was attributed to negative media coverage questioning the quality and efficacy of some products, as well as environmental concerns.
Turner also pointed out that industry growth in New Zealand slowed last year. In terms of supermarket sales, growth dropped from 10% to 4.3% year-on-year.
It’s likely that uncertainty around e-commerce regulations in China was responsible for some of the slow down, with ‘daiguo’ shoppers buying fewer products to ship back to China.
The sector also saw pharmacy sales dip from double-digits to around 2.3% last year.
Across the two retail channels, sales totalled $209m, up 2.9%, compared to a 15% rise in 2015.
“It is the first time in long time that we are seeing natural health grow in grocery more than in pharmacy,” said Turner.
When it comes to supermarket sales, natural health products are the second highest selling non-food item behind…toilet roll.