How contract manufacturers are keeping up with demand for new and improved gummy supplements.
Gummies are a commanding force in the dietary supplement market. While originally marketed as a fun and easy-to-adopt delivery system for children’s vitamins, gummies have since expanded to the adult market and to a broad range of nutraceutical categories. Transparency Market Research (Albany, NY) expects the gummy “candy-ceuticals” market to grow by a 6% CAGR through the end of this decade, reaching a market size of $5.8 billion worldwide in 2029. Adults are expected to make up two-thirds of gummy consumers over this time period.1
Gummies are arguably the single biggest trend in delivery systems today. So, how are they evolving? More importantly, how are contract manufacturers keeping up with the demand and the innovation?
Gummies have traditionally been made with gelatin, but new plant-based options are helping satisfy demand for vegan options. While plant-based materials provide lots of opportunity, manufacturers have also had to fine-tune best practices for working with them.
Processing times and temperatures may need to be adjusted when using ingredients like pectin or carrageenan in place of gelatin, says Michael Jinks, applications specialist for ingredient supplier IFF Nourish (New York City). Other ingredients in a formula, such as vitamins and minerals, may interfere with the gelling process. Formulations sometimes require adjustment.
Still, plant-based options can offer their own advantages over gelatin. “Pectin and carrageenan are great alternatives to gelatin that also have manufacturing benefits, such as shorter setting and drying times, saving both time and money,” Jinks says.
Shorter Setting Time Sans Starch
Clean-label gummies that can be quickly manufactured in small batches are increasingly in demand, says Liz Clarke, technical marketing manager for ingredient supplier Nitta Gelatin (Morrisville, NC). Ingredients that advance starchless systems, Clarke says, help check all of these boxes.
Her company offers ingredients like XactSet gelatin to address any related challenges. “Traditional hydrocolloids can be challenging in fortified nutraceutical gummy formulas, especially those produced in starchless systems,” she explains. “While standard gelatin has the benefit of pH-independent setting, it can take a while to set in starchless systems.” To help, Nitta Gelatin’s trademarked XactSet is a line of gelatin ingredients designed for use in starchless systems. Launched in 2019, XactSet enables faster setting without starch and can be used in combination with other hydrocolloids to create unique shapes and textures. Clarke says XactSet cuts setting time down from days to minutes while allowing more space for active ingredients within each gummy.
Nutraceutical gummy manufacturing has advanced in recent years, with equipment evolving to better handle nutraceutical dosages. But nutraceuticals also face consumer demands not present in the confectionery industry, meaning they will continue to involve their own set of challenges.
Contract manufacturers often produce nutraceutical gummies on equipment designed for confectionery rather than pharmaceutical products, which involves specialized modifications and know-how, points out Edward Shneyvas, vice president of R&D, innovation, and business development at contract manufacturer Best Formulations (City of Industry, CA). “High temperature and low-pH processing conditions contribute to active ingredient degradation during manufacturing, while the overall gummy matrix presents stability challenges for a number of dietary ingredients,” Shneyvas says. “Gummies also require controlled temperature and humidity during storage and distribution, which is often overlooked as it is not required for other dosage forms.”
One of the newest offerings in gummy manufacturing offers both functional and aesthetic benefits. Karla Acevedo, marketing manager at contract manufacturer Sirio Pharma Company, Ltd., (California), says Sirio’s new line of center-filled gummies, produced on the company’s in-house equipment, enables the separation of functional ingredients between shell and filling. Separating ingredients in this manner reduces the risk of incompatibility and protects key ingredients from oxidation and moisture. “The shell serves as a protective barrier sheltering the ingredients in the filling,” Acevedo says.
And they boost aesthetics, Acevedo adds. “Center-filled gummies are more visually appealing. We can do a different color for the shell and the filling. Center-filled gummies also taste great and provide a delightful experience for consumers [by combining] different textures for the shell and the filling.”
Gummies’ specialized manufacturing needs can make them challenging for newer manufacturers to produce. Until recently, lack of expertise and high entry cost have kept smaller companies out of the space. While some new contract manufacturers have joined the gummy market in recent years, these smaller competitors still face several hurdles, Shneyvas says.
“There are only a few larger, established nutraceutical gummy manufacturers,” Shneyvas notes. “In the last few years, a number of new, smaller entrants have cropped up, though [their] capacity is still limited and the product quality of some of those new entrants can be considered questionable by industry standards.”
Gummies are the single biggest trend in delivery systems today, and their growth will undoubtedly continue to attract new entrants. Contract manufacturers are receiving gummy orders for a variety of ingredients, and this move beyond vitamins and minerals is prompting continual innovation in gummy formulas and processes. Manufacturers are working to reduce sugar, animal ingredients, and artificial ingredients, and non-GMO and organic claims are also growing. This market offers significant opportunities for contract manufacturers that have the equipment, production capacity, and niche expertise needed to succeed.