I was recently having a discussion with someone about the size of the genetic testing market, and I mentioned the number of people who had already paid for genetic genealogy testing. This oft-repeated number, 460,000, is the addition of two figures from a short 2006 EMBO article (“Genetic Genealogy Goes Global” EMBO 1072 (2006)):
- “Companies such as Oxford Ancestors, Family Tree DNA and DNAPrint Genomics have attracted more than 300,000 customers in the past six years.”
- “During the first 15 months of the five-year [Genographic] project, 160,000 people signed on, far more than had been anticipated.”
So, 300,000 + 160,000 = 460,000. A year later, however, these numbers are obsolete and I wanted to bring them as up-to-date as possible. To do this, I took the 2006 EMBO papers and scoured the internet for testing numbers revealed by any of the genetic genealogy testing firms. The results suggest that the current number is much higher than 460,000. My findings are below:
1. Oxford Ancestors, FTDNA, and DNAPrint Genomics = 300,000 up to November 2006. Although I am not certain of the accuracy of this number from the 2006 EMBO article, I decided to use it as a starting point.
2. FTDNA sells 30,000 kits per year as of 2007 (source), so I added 30,000 to represent November 2006 to November 2007.
3. Genographic Project – By October 27th, DNA has been collected from 225,000 individuals, with 1,000 kits sold per week (source), so I added 226,000.
4. African Ancestry – As of May 2007, African Ancestry had tested 10,000 individuals (source), so I added 10,000.
5. Sorenson Genomics – As of 2006, the company had sold 1,500 testing kits in Asia through affiliates (source), so I added 1,500.
6. Genomac in Prague – As of June 2007, this company had tested 5,000 individuals (source), so I added 5,000.
7. Relative Genetics – As of 2002, this company had 19,000 genetic genealogy sequences in its database (source). I’m not sure if they were all from customers, and I’m not sure how much growth they experienced in the intervening 5 years. Thus, to be conservative, I added just 19,000.
8. I wasn’t sure whether or not to add SMGF, which as of 2006 had collected over 60,000 DNA samples and genealogical charts (source). This would not reflect a paid part of the market, but might represent people who would be interested in further genetic genealogy testing.
In conclusion, given the numbers revealed from the above sources in addition to the traditional figure of 460,000, there have been at least 591,500 kits sold and/or DNA samples tested. If I add in the SMGF numbers, it rises to 651,500. Given my research, I believe that if the 300,000 number from the EMBO article is correct, the number of people who have undergone genetic genealogy testing might be as high as 600,000 to 700,000 people. Additionally, this number appears to be growing by as much as 80,000 to 100,000 per year. My confidence is these numbers is boosted by the fact that I do not have information for a number of companies that offer genetic genealogy testing. As the interest in genetic genealogy grows, I predict that the 1 millionth genetic genealogy customer will push the “buy” button as early as 2009.