The Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), Harleyville, Pa., said U.S. health and wellness retail product sales reached more than $112 billion in 2008, a 9 percent increase compared to 2007. Officials say the figure includes sales across all retail and direct-to-consumer channels for as many as six categories.

Those categories include functional/fortified foods and beverages ($40.5 billion); organic foods/beverages ($23.6 billion); vitamins, minerals, herbal and dietary supplements ($23.3 billion); natural foods/beverages ($14.6 billion), natural/organic personal care ($8.4 billion) and natural/organic general merchandise ($2.0 billion).

“NMI research clearly shows that the current economic downturn is changing consumer behavior on many levels, including spending related to health and wellness,” said Maryellen Molyneaux, NMI president. “So while sales in each category continue to grow, consumers are becoming more discerning and are looking for real value in their purchases and not just the perceived value. This shift in behavior will impact manufacturers and retailers not just short-term, but also in the future.”

While functional foods and beverages continue to represent the largest sales category, NMI noted a shift involving the second largest sector. Organic food and beverage sales rose to surpass those of vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements.