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Jennifer Grebow is editor-in-chief of Nutritional Outlook.
As more consumers seek clean-label products, more dietary supplement manufacturers are taking a harder look at just how clean their supplements are, right down to the capsule, tablet, or softgel.
As more consumers seek clean-label products, more dietary supplement manufacturers are taking a harder look at just how clean their supplements are, right down to the capsule, tablet, or softgel. At SupplySide West, suppliers and manufacturers discussed their latest offerings in the clean-label department.
Organic Tablet Binder, Organic Film Coating, and More
Ashland Global Holdings (Wilmington, DE) introduced a new organic tablet binder and film coating at SupplySide West.
The company’s new Aquarius clear organic film coating system is “an aqueous-based alternative to animal-derived, shellac-based systems,” the company said. In addition to being certified organic, Aquarius organic film coating is Non-GMO Project Verified, made with nonallergenic ingredients, and vegetarian, kosher, and halal certified. This coating does not yield on performance, either. The company points out that it offers immediate release and quick dispersion. It is fully formulated, easy to apply, and provides “exceptional gloss and improved slip for packaging while preventing dusting,” the firm adds.
At SupplySide West, Ashland also introduced a new Aquarius Nutra titanium-free coating system for customers concerned about using titanium as an ingredient, such as in the European Union. Ashland says Aquarius Nutra TF “provides a comparable white film coating for oral solid dosage forms" and is available as a white system-it can achieve bright-white tablets-or a pigmented system. Aquarius film-coating systems can also be formulated with naturally derived colors, while still offering stable color performance.
Also targeting the organic customer, the company introduced its NutraPress organic tablet binder. Made with certified-organic, nonallergenic, label-friendly ingredients, the tablet binder “is engineered to enhance tablet robustness and tablet disintegration” and provide good dissolution. The company says it performs comparably to the non-organic binder microcrystalline cellulose. The NutraPress binder is free-flowing, enabling optimal powder flow and ease of use in direct-compression tablet manufacturing.
Other new products showcased at Ashland’s SupplySide West booth included a new, economical, all-in-one binder-disintegrant excipient, Klucel Nutra PLUS, which the firm says is designed to simplify the direct compression of tablets. “The new product’s improved powder flow ensures consistent performance during commercial-scale manufacturing, refines usability, and may reduce customers’ operating costs,” the company stated in a press release.
The company also showcased its expertise in non-pill delivery formats. One of its prototypes was a sugar-reduced lime mint Aloe vera vitamin water. (Ashland owns the farms and processes the Aloe vera leaves in house). Another prototype was a fermented plum ginger apple cider vinegar shrub beverage featuring collagen and biotin for beauty from within. Finally, the company distributed samples of a direct-to-mouth sprinkle pack combining a five-strain blend of microencapsulated probiotics plus a prebiotic.
Ashland underlined the additional resources it now has in hand thanks to its acquisition of Pharmachem Laboratories in May 2017. Pharmachem’s expertise, including its particle-engineering and formulating capabilities, and its ingredient portfolio, complements Ashland’s own expertise in nutraceutical bindings and coatings and its own functional ingredients. Combined, these capabilities mean Ashland can address a wider range and ever-customized suite of solutions for customers, ranging from bindings and coatings to powder shakes, organic shakes, fast-melt sprinkles, stick packs, and more.
Natural Capsule Colors and More
Lonza Consumer Health & Nutrition (Basel, Switzerland) debuted several key clean-label initiatives at SupplySide West.
First, the company announced that it is a founding member of the Clean Label Alliance, a new clean-label initiative kicked off by several companies, including Lonza, Ribus Inc. (St. Louis, MO), Biogrund GmbH (Huenstetten, Germany), Bosch Packaging Technology GmbH (Waiblingen, Germany), and Natoli Engineering Company, Inc. (St. Charles, MO). Together, the companies are committing to helping nutraceutical firms transition their products to cleaner labels by enhancing their own clean-label offerings.
“As supplement manufacturers transition to cleaner labels, they must overcome both formulation and production challenges,” Lonza said in a press release. “The Clean Label Alliance will offer premium resources and technical solutions to help manufacturers to produce clean-label supplements more easily and efficiently.”
Beth Tormey, senior vice president, head of global business unit, Lonza Consumer Health & Nutrition, said in the press release: “Approximately 80% of consumers now want to know what is in the products they use. Manufacturers know how to make supplements in the traditional way, but they may not have the experience in-house to make the transition to clean-label products to meet this growing demand. The Clean Label Alliance bridges this gap and applies years of combined member expertise in clean-label ingredients, formulations, dosage forms, and manufacturing to help supplement makers get more desirable products to market faster.”
Lonza introduced several clean-label offerings of its own at SupplySide West. First, the company announced that its DRcaps capsules, which are designed to protect sensitive ingredients, such as probiotics, from stomach acid during transit, are now Non-GMO Project Verified. DRcaps are now included in Lonza’s portfolio of Non-GMO Project Verified capsules, including its vegetarian Vcaps and Vcaps Plus capsules, which are made from hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) and water, as well as Plantcaps pullulan capsules. (These technologies come by way of Lonza’s acquisition of capsules supplier Capsugel last year.)
“Plant-based, clean-label dosage forms are a vital component to support claims on supplement labels and ultimately meet consumer preferences for more-natural products,” said Karin Schrooten, quality director, Lonza Consumer Health & Nutrition, in a press release. “As one of the first companies with liquid-filled and empty capsules to be verified by the Non-GMO Project organization, we were first verified in 2013 for our Vcaps Plus vegetarian capsules. Carrying this pioneering spirit through to today’s announcement, we now have one of the most comprehensive non-GMO, vegan, and clean-label hard-capsule portfolios on the market.”
Food-Sourced Capsule Colors
One of the most exciting clean-label developments from Lonza at the show related to the company’s capsule color offerings. At SupplySide West, the firm announced a new initiative to develop new capsule colors naturally sourced from food. The company came out the gate with a new purple capsule color sourced from purple carrot for its Vcaps Plus vegetarian plant-based capsules.
In a press release, the company said: “Lonza is announcing the global launch of its latest dosage form innovation, with supplement manufacturers now able to choose from a range of vibrant, clean-label colorants when selecting its Capsugel Vcaps Plus plant-based capsules. Its premier vegetarian capsules are already popular among brands looking to achieve a variety of on-pack claims, but coloring the shell has previously required an E-number”-numbers used by EU regulators to indicate substances are permitted to be used as food additives in the EU. The new food-based colorants instead can be labeled as natural colorants in the United States and “allow customers to create bright, eye-catching supplements that also appeal to consumers seeking improved supply chain transparency and a natural positioning,” Lonza said.
The new Vcaps Plus capsule color from purple carrot follows “the successful introduction of the Vcaps Plus blue spirulina capsule in Europe earlier this year,” the firm said. “The high-performance capsule shell is made using plant-based HPMC and water only, without any preservatives. A colorant derived from purple carrots is used to match the desired shade as closely as possible, while maintaining a natural appearance in the finished supplement.” The company added that the purple color also is a masking solution. The capsule is available in a range of purple shades, created without using an opacifier.
This initiative will expand Vcaps’ reach in the clean-label market and assist customers looking to ensure their clean-label capsules are unique and eye-catching for branding purposes, for differentiation, and even user-friendliness-for instance, using different shades to indicate different products as part of a regimen. “Our research shows that seven out of ten shoppers seek supplements with no artificial colors,” said Stephane Vouche, marketing manager, Lonza Consumer Health & Nutrition.
Capsules Are a Clean-Label Option
At SupplySide West, Barri Sigvertsen, marketing manager, Lonza Consumer Health & Nutrition, pointed out that inherently, capsules offer the market great tools for going clean-label. “To me, it’s one of the cleanest-label solutions you can find because it is the dosage form that uses the fewest excipients,” she said. “So we are positioned to help people go clean label more than any other company.” She added: “We go to great lengths to make sure that we’re part of every third-party certification, so we are kosher, halal, vegan certified, Non-GMO Project Verified. So we’re leading the industry in that way.”
She pointed out how the new Clean Label Alliance will truly make a difference to companies who want to go clean label but who need assistance in doing so. “We recognize that as people look to clean up their solutions, they need help with formulations. They need help with the manufacturing process, and they also need help with the marketing process. We’ve created this alliance to truly help them at every stage that they might encounter challenges of some sort.”
Of Lonza, she added: “We have a dedicated quality engineering team that can work with customers to ensure their formulations are optimized, because when you do change over to a clean label, sometimes [capsules] can be a little more difficult to run, which can also decrease productivity and cut into profits. So we have a dedicated team of people who will actually help customers understand what their high level of productivity is and ensure that when they do change formulations, that they maintain that level of productivity.”
And as for the company’s further developments in food-sourced capsule colors, she said Lonza will be polling its customers and asking which new priority shades they would like Lonza to develop. “This takes us to a whole new arena, and a very vibrant arena,” she concluded.
More Customers Making the Switch to Clean Label
Demand for cleaner delivery systems shows no sign of slowing. As consumers pursue clean labels, manufacturers will continue to look to suppliers of capsules, softgels, and tablets to provide more options.
Tim Chiprich, vice president of product development for Captek Softgel (Cerritos, CA), an FDA-compliant contract manufacturer, distributor, and specialist in softgels, including vegetarian softgels, as well as hardshell capsules and tablets, discussed the significant demand his company is seeing for clean-label solutions.
“Here at Captek, we experience a large demand for clean-label products,” Chiprich says. “I would estimate that over half of our customers desire some level of what they consider to be clean-label products. Different customers have different definitions of what they consider to be clean label. To some it means natural colorants, others want vegetarian-sourced ingredients, others shun ingredients that sound too ‘chemical-like,’ and still others want as little excipients as possible and/or to use more ‘food-derived excipients’ in place of traditional excipients. Many want their products to be some level of ‘GMO-free.’”
Captek has numerous solutions to meet these demands, Chiprich says. “Here at Captek, we have developed products which address all of the different types of clean-label products-everything from natural colorants to titanium dioxide–free opacifying agents, vegetarian options for softgels and hardshell capsule products, vegetarian alternatives to beeswax, GMO-free raw materials, food-derived excipients such as rice-based tablet lubricants and flow agents, and more.”
Terry Keller, Captek's vice president of sales and marketing, adds: “Because we offer multiple delivery formats-hardshell capsules, tablets, and softgels-we can/do have a wide array of ‘clean label’ alternatives across each of those formats.”