The Irish herbal products market increased by 2% in current value terms in 2012, to reach a value of €34 million.
Restrictions on the sale of certain products following the full implementation of the European Herbal Medicines
Directive continued to negatively impact sales of herbal products in 2012. Products which had often been available for a very long time in the Irish market were affected, for instance paediatric echinacea was removed from sale.
In the majority of cases it is unlikely that consumers will find an alternative herbal product in place of that which they would usually have purchased, with this revenue being lost from the herbal segment.
Partially in response to these changes, and also as a result of decreasing disposable incomes, the rate of growth within herbal products continued to slow in comparison with 2007-2012, which saw growth of 5% and 6% in the early years.
The decline in growth can also be attributed to retailers offering lower-cost options or extended periods of extreme discounting, such as Holland & Barrett's one cent and buy-one-get-one-free sales.
Herbal analgesics increased by 2% in 2012 as consumers increasingly turned to non-medicated products to treat minor aches and pains. These products tend to be topical analgesics, which for the most part are also a less expensive choice, appealing to cash-strapped consumers.
Herbal calming and sleeping also performed well, recording current value growth of 6%. The majority of such products in the Irish market are herbal in nature, with increased use amongst consumers feeling increasing strain in light of continued economic hardships, high unemployment and a general sense of unease for future prospects.
Whilst health and wellness remains a growing trend in Ireland, many herbal products are considered to be a less effective option compared with non-herbal equivalents. The requirement of many herbal products to build up in one's system over time is contrary to Irish consumers' need for fast and effective results.
Cadbury Ireland maintained its lead in herbal products with a value share of 17% in 2012. The competitive environment within herbal products remained highly fragmented due to the wide range and scope of products which fall under this classification.
However, the prominent players in 2012 included GR Lane Health Products with an 11% value share and Reckitt Benckiser Ireland with an 5% share, and Lofthouse of Fleetwood, Seven Seas Ireland, Bach Flower Remedies and Chefaro Ireland, each with 4-5% value shares.
The overall driving factor in the consumption of herbal products is concern about the safety of standard products. Irish consumers were more aware of the possible dangers of pharmacological preparations in 2012, and were more willing to listen to advice from doctors and pharmacists on alternatives. Parents of young children and older women were key drivers of sales of these products.
For more information on the Irish herbal products market, see the latest research: Irish Herbal Products Market
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