One in five Americans try to manage health conditions with their food and beverage choices

Port Washington, N.Y., December 6, 2021 — Even before the pandemic, “The Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine,” by Andrew Chevallier was the top-selling U.S. print book in the herbal-medications category. However, since COVID-19 began to wreak havoc in this country, this perennially popular reference book has enjoyed an even steeper rise, with unit sales growing by 468% ($1.5 million in retail sales value) since 2019. The geographic comparison between where sales of this book are over-indexing with U.S. vaccination rates reveals a clear correlation between lower vaccination rates and higher purchasing of this key herbal medicine title, according to The NPD Group.

“Herbalism, healing, and healthy living are the top-growing health categories in 2021,” said Kristen McLean, books industry analyst for NPD. “And while it’s not all that surprising that the term ‘self-care’ has taken on a new meaning during the pandemic, it’s interesting to note that in areas with low vaccination rates, sales of the leading herbal medicine title have seen such strong growth since the start of the pandemic.”

For many, food is an important pathway to managing health conditions

According to the “Health Aspirations and Behavioral Tracking Service” from NPD, in the 12 months ending February 2021, one out of five Americans attempted to manage a health condition with their food and beverage choices. “A growing number of consumers are seeking out products that support immunity, gut health, and stress relief,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for NPD.

Among the leading food ingredients with health properties U.S. adults have eaten during the pandemic is elderberry, which proponents claim bolsters immunity and has anti-viral qualities. The number of consumers who have tried elderberry rose by 6.4 points to 30%. April through June 2021, compared to January through March, before the U.S. began to institute public health orders to limit the spread of COVID-19. Trials of other products with purported immunity-boosting qualities were also on the rise, including jackfruit, with trials growing by 3.2 points, and bone broth, which rose 2.8 points.

About NPD Books
With the explosion of content generated by print books, streaming video-on-demand services, podcasts, and audiobooks, our culture is increasingly dominated by the stories we tell. In this interconnected media landscape, books are where some of today’s hottest media properties get their start. But as retail and consumer change accelerates, it can be a challenge to make sense of it all. We work with all the major players in U.S. publishing, retail, media, and toys to understand how digital and print content is evolving. Our books industry experts know the publishing world inside and out; they tap into our point-of-sale data to help you make better and faster decisions in today’s market.

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