Supplement Producers and Consumers Must Adopt Sustainable Practices
More than half (57.6%) of the US adult population, from age 20 and older, take dietary supplements because they feel they’re not getting enough nutrients. However, the growing demand has raised concerns among environmentalists as many farms do not use sustainable methods in growing the ingredients used.
Stats on Supplement Consumption in the U.S.
A report on supplement use was published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) based on the results of the National Nutrition Examination Survey conducted in 2017-2018. All things considered, the CDC brief shows that American consumers take one or more dietary supplements, because they believe doing so has positive effects on their health.
According to the CDC report, the survey also revealed that more women (63.8%) take supplements than men (50.8%). Moreover, 80.2% of women, from aged 60 and older, add more supplements to their intakes; taking two up to four kinds on a daily basis. The nutrient-additions include all, or any of the top four highest-selling variants, namely multivitamins-mineral, Vitamin D, Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin C.
Governments and different health advocacy organizations are also promoting less consumption of meat as a more sustainable form of diet. The United Nations Food and Agriculture sector is in support of such advocacy, contending that livestock production has higher energy requirements than plant-based farming.
Aside from contributing high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, intensive livestock production methods include conversion of natural habitats into grasslands and for growing feed crops. Such methods have had immense environmental impact as they resulted to a significant loss of biodiversity.
Increasing Demand for Plant-Based Supplements and Nutrition, Raises Environmental Concerns
Environmentalists are concerned that the continuously increasing demand for supplements combines with the increasing demand for vegetables and fruits. The latter demand is in line with movements promoting the adoption of plant-based diet. In fact most food and beverage manufacturers have developed plant-based variants of their popular products, in order to capture the growing number of vegan/vegetarian consumers.
Yet in order to meet the demand of both consumers and manufacturers, many large farms use irresponsible farming methods, particularly the use of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. The adoption of these farming practices leads to loss of soil nutrients, which in turn reduces the nutrient content of fruits and vegetables. The USDA has in fact reported about such an occurrence based on studies conducted since 1973.
Consumers Must Also Adopt Sustainable Buying Practices
While there are calls for supplement manufacturers to source products from organic agriculturists, instead of buying from farms that use modern production techniques, consumers are likewise advised to discriminate with their supplement choices. They should buy only those manufactured by companies that support environment-friendly and sustainable farming methods.
Apparently, most consumers are already taking this stance, as was revealed by a recent global survey conducted by Nielsen. According to Nielsen, 73% of global respondents indicated their willingness to change their consumption habits in line with their commitment to help reduce negative impacts of industries on the environment.
The Nielsen stats are aligned with market reports showing that sales of product claiming sustainability are outpacing the sales of traditionally manufactured products. According to a Harvard Business Review, products with sustainability claims appearing on labels and packaging contributed by as much as 16.55% in the 50% growth of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG).
As an example, Sunbeam, the company behind the top selling nitric oxide supplement RocketMan Naturals made important changes in the packaging of its dietary supplement to make it more sustainable for users. The supplement now comes in a combined pill and power drink form, to eliminate the need to drink water when taking the supplement. At the same time, the combination delivers faster acting relief for ED sufferers.