It's the story of the little ingredient that could — and did.

Sales of products containing resveratrol spiked an impressive 31 percent in the natural channel between August 2009 and August 2010, SPINS reports. And sales soared an even more impressive 71 percent in the FDM channel, from $1.42 million to $2.43 million.

Not too bad for an ingredient that two years ago netted only $836,000 in FDM sales.

There's another way of looking at it: Between August 2008 and August 2010, resveratrol products grew more than 190.6 percent among food, drug and mass-market shoppers, and 323 percent among natural-channel shoppers.

Not only have sales been strong in dollar figures, but the anti-aging, antimicrobial and antioxidant-rich ingredient has begun appearing for the first time in a host of new products. Appearing for the first time in the FDM channel: herbal formulas with resveratrol ($35,000), shelf-stable beverages ($53,901), and water products ($19,549).

Over in the natural channel — which is often a harbinger of future FDM activity — resveratrol began appearing in diet formulas ($318), food supplements ($16,793), and water products ($27,715).

"There are no real surprises (in these new categories) to me," said Jeremy Bartos, PhD, pTeroPure ingredients product manager with ChromaDex, a California-based supplier of resveratrol and a new 'next generation' ingredient, pterostilbene.

"DSM claimed self-affirmed GRAS on its resVida ingredient last year, so many of the newer products such as the waters and functional beverages are more than likely a result of the GRAS status."

By far the largest product category is miscellaneous supplements, which did well in both channels: rising 63.5 percent in FDM from $1.42 million to $2.32 million, and rising 30.2 percent in natural channel from $3.47 million to $4.52 million.

The only category to see a decrease is the very small shelf-stable juices category, falling from $4,540 to $2,291 in the FDM channel and $10,669 to $3,860 in the natural channel.

What seems missing from the picture are the many product platforms that could contain resveratrol — but don't.

I'm surprised there aren't more products touting resveratrol in a gum or lozenge," Bartos said. "Even though it has low bioavailability, studies have shown that one of the best ways to absorb resveratrol is through the oral cavity, and very few products have capitalized on this."

Two products that have are fast-melting REZ Melts tablets by Solara and an upcoming gum product from Gumlink Nutraceuticals.

"I also think there is huge potential for resveratrol and pterostilbene in the pet market, especially with their positive effects on heart health and diabetes. Resveratrol or pterostilbene in a shooter beverage would also be an interesting thought, as both act as vasodilators and seem to have short-term effects on overall energy levels while avoiding the crash caused by caffeine."

Some newly published research also paints a bright picture for the ingredient. In September, the first human study linking resveratrol to improved cardiovascular health was published on the website of Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Disease.

The study showed that DSM's resVida resveratrol improves flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery. The diameter of the artery was increased by 62% in the group who took just 30mg of resVida, while a 91% improvement was seen in the 270mg group.

"DSM is now involved with five ongoing human studies for resVida, and that list grows with each passing month," said Global Business Manager Frank DeJianne.

The company was also a contributing sponsor at Resveratrol2010, a first international scientific conference held in Denmark in mid-September.

Cyvex, a resveratrol supplier since 2002, expects more positive research news soon.

"Our customers continue to look for novel applications," said Matt Phillips, president and COO. "We also see customers taking their products and conducting animal or human studies to validate the health benefits of resveratrol. There should be a lot of study information released within the next 12 months."