Honey is a tried and true ingredient in cold & allergy products

January 25, 2023By Behind the Shelf Blog

By Colleen Volheim, HRG category research and analysis manager, and Megan Moyer, HRG corporate marketing manager

Manufacturers who are trying to reinvigorate their HBW product or product lines will often add products with new scents or flavors, or update packaging to draw attention or new shoppers to their brand. The increase in consumer interest in more natural ingredients in everything from clothing to food, to personal care and OTC items, has meant a reevaluation of ingredients for many manufacturers of consumer packaged goods items and beyond.  

While honey has been used as an ingredient predating the rise in popularity of natural products, when we looked at the cold & allergy category where it has been a popular ingredient, since 2004 there have been 126 new cold & allergy products that contain honey. As of mid-September of 2022, seventy-three of those items are still active, which is almost 60%. As the chart below more fully illustrates, products containing honey tend to stand the test of time.

Cold & Allergy new item launches containing honey

Of new items launched over time, there are large variances in the top brands that contain honey between independent pharmacy and IRI chain drug as the charts below depict.


Within independent pharmacy it is interesting to note that the top four new items containing honey treat either or both cough and sore throat. Within chain drug, the top two brands treat cough and sore throat, however they are different, with the exception of HALLS, than any of the top independent brands.

Whether they rise up through the pursuit of innovation or the desire to align with a trend, ingredients that are safe and effective will have staying power. The brand that discovers this first may have an edge, but it won’t be long before other suppliers start to utilize the ingredient too.

Source: HRG’s Tri-PAC™ Data, HRG’s New Item Data and IRI Chain Drug data ended 8/31/22