Confusion over distribution channel challenges beauty foods growth

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supermarket

Food and drinks that claim to help make you beautiful can be found in supermarkets, pharmacies, and specialist retailers, but each has unique distribution challenges.

The sector has been tipped for significant growth but some of the biggest launches form the major players have flopped.

This could be linked to their attempt at supermarket distribution, believes analyst Mark Whalley at market research company Datamonitor.

“Supermarket distribution was probably one of the main reasons Danone’s Essensis yoghurt eventually failed,”​ Whalley told

Obviously the supermarket can provide manufacturers with wider distribution than can be found elsewhere, touching significant numbers of consumers.

However, at present consumer trust in functional foods that promise general or digestive health benefits is still higher than those promising skin and beauty related effects.

The price premium these products command, combined with the lack of faith in their efficacy does not bode well for their success.

“Industry players would love to be able to have their beauty foods and drinks all over supermarket shelves but it requires a very careful confidence-building strategy to be successful”​ Whalley added.

Pharmacy can foster belief in efficacy

In contrast, Whalley believes that consumers are more likely to believe the benefits of products if they see them on pharmacy shelves, although of course this means a much smaller target population.

Practical problems may also hinder the pharmacy channel.

Although well placed to sell beauty supplements, the requirements of food and drink products – which are deemed to be the big potential earners in the sector – may not be provided for in a pharmacy setting.

Beverages, including juice drinks and fortified waters, are expected to lead the sector and it is unclear whether pharmacies are prepared to provide such products, and consumers ready to buy them.

Some manufacturers have launched powdered drinks that can be rehydrated at home, for example Noah’s Naturals Drink Yourself Gorgeous range, which could help fit the product to the distribution channel, although may endanger the convenience of the product.

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