Supplement delivery forms get more affordable, easier to work with: 2022 SupplySide West Report

During November’s SupplySide West show, Ashland discussed how its technology is taking existing delivery formats for supplements to the next level.

Making dietary supplement delivery systems easier for manufacturers to work with and less expensive to produce, while performing better, is no small feat. During November’s SupplySide West show, Ashland (Wilmington, DE) discussed how two of its next-generation delivery technologies are giving supplement formulators a whole new set of tools and options.

The first is Ashland’s patent-pending Nutrapress organic chewable base, which the company introduced at the Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim, CA, this past March. At that show, Kapish Karan, MS, who is now the global OSD leader at Ashland, explained some of the biggest challenges with manufacturing chewable tablets, including achieving a texture that will provide a pleasant experience when the customer chews the tablet. For companies making organic products, creating a good-performing organic chewable tablet can be especially difficult. Fortunately, Ashland’s Nutrapress base is not only organic; it also makes manufacturing easier because it is an “all-in-one system” that includes binder, flow aid, lubricant, and sweetener. Importantly, Nutrapress chewable tablets can be produced on existing tableting equipment.

Another improved delivery format Ashland offers is its StableFizz effervescent delivery option, which the company introduced a few years ago. StableFizz enables companies to create effervescent powders on existing, conventional tableting lines. The technology is designed to control moisture in order to maintain flowability and to prevent clumping of the effervescent material.

At November’s SupplySide West show, Karan said that Ashland’s clients are increasingly interested in next-level delivery options. This type of differentiation is especially important in a competitive market. “There are only so many active products out on the market with a particular benefit. So if everyone’s looking at immunity, most of those immunity products have the same two or three ingredients in them. So how do you differentiate [your supplement product] and get into a category that’s growing—and get in there very quickly while that category is still hot?” asked Maxine Weber, global director of marketing, health and wellness, at Ashland, during SupplySide West. “If you have a unique delivery system—like effervescents or a chewable tablet—you can make something that’s very different from what your competitors are offering, and not just for the sake of being different but because it meets a consumer need.”

Part of Ashland’s services include helping companies figure out which ingredients work best in these systems, whether the ingredients come from Ashland’s own portfolio of branded ingredients or whether companies come to the formulation bench with ingredients already selected. Ashland then helps brands figure out how to get those ingredients into their desired delivery format, supporting them from concept to commercialization.

Said Karan: “Bigger customers have their own manufacturing but may come to us [for help with] differentiation. They’re like, ‘Okay, we make this. How can we differentiate in this space?’ They’re not looking so much at our custom formulations, although some of them do. On the other hand, small and upcoming brands will look to us for ingredients and the full turnkey solution, so they’re looking to us to help them out from start to finish.”

The goal is to ensure delivery vehicles don’t just perform well but can fit in a company’s budget and production capabilities. Said Weber: “We want to make a product that makes financial sense to a customer. For instance, our effervescent system doesn’t require a lot of capital infrastructure that a typical effervescent product would need. That’s obviously a pretty important benefit.” Karan called StableFizz an “enabling” technology because it helps companies save money on expensive manufacturing and packaging. “Our product has a stability where you don’t need expensive packaging, handling, and so on,” he said. “So we are opening the market for a lot more players to get into effervescent-type products.”

And with the Nutrapress chewable tablet base, he added, “Chewables aren’t a brand-new concept, but making it available in an organic, clean-label format—that’s new and hasn’t been done, so that basically rejuvenates that market for people to go in and say, ‘Hey, I can now make a chewable that is label-friendly and that’s organic or ‘made with organic’—and that helps them differentiate.”