We’ve come a long way from the Flintstones chewables we grew up on. Fortunately for all of us, we’re entering a golden age of gourmet vitamins, dietary supplements, and other nutraceuticals.
That’s why you’re here, right? To make people’s lives a little easier, and a tad tastier?
Well here’s some free food-science knowledge from true kitchen nerds about one of the key elements you’ll have to decide upon for your nutraceutical gummy formulation.
Do yourself a favor and save yourself some time in your nutraceutical product development by spending a moment here with experts who’ve already done the research for you…
As a pioneer in the nutraceutical industry, it’s understandable that you won’t settle for creating anything less than a delicious, effective, consistent product.
Before we dive into the science of gelling agents for nutraceutical gummies—to discover why your gummy keeps coming out overly chewy, bland, or unpredictable—let’s do a quick introduction just to make sure we’re all in the right room.
What are nutraceutical products?
Nutraceutical products are edible dietary supplements that provide a physiological benefit aside from regular nutrition.
As a nutraceutical innovator, you likely already know that the possible benefits of nutraceuticals are almost infinite. Businesses like yours are creating and perfecting nutraceutical products even as you read this, to provide myriad benefits like managing disease, sleep, mental health, and allergies!
Some of the most popular nutraceutical gummies on the market include:
- CBD edibles
- Melatonin supplements
- Compound pharmacy meds
- Dietary supplements
While the popularity of nutraceuticals is on the rise in general, nutraceutical gummies, specifically, are by far outpacing other products in the nutraceutical industry. In fact, the gummy supplement industry has grown by more than 80% in the last two years!
Even in the cannabis world, 71.1% of edible sales in the US are gummies.
The people have spoken –they want a gummy and they expect it to be good. Whoever it is you’re hoping to help with your nutraceutical gummy, investing in perfecting the formula to ensure your product stacks up against the steep competition can make all the difference to your success.
So how do you make a good nutraceutical product – specifically, a great gummy?
Since you’re here, you probably already know the therapeutic benefits you want from your nutraceutical gummies, and maybe you’ve even decided what flavor you want them to be—nice work.
But what about your gelling agent? As benign as the choice may seem, your gelling agent is the single gummy ingredient voted most likely to separate the great gummy from the “meh” gummy.
Why are there so many types of gelling agents for nutraceutical gummies?
If in your product development journey so far you’ve peeked behind the curtain of what goes into crafting the perfect gummy, you’ve seen that the list of possible gelling agents for nutraceutical gummies is long; pectin, gelatin, agar and many more—what’s the difference?
The reason there are so many types of gelling agents in the nutraceutical industry is that each one has its own unique benefits and drawbacks—depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.
The right gelling agent for nutraceutical gummies depends on the functional purpose of the gummy (what benefit does your nutraceutical provide its consumer), the desired texture and flavor (how important is the “yum” factor), your own familiarity with the critical handling techniques of the agent, and whether the nutraceutical is a vegan or clean-label product.
What’s the best gelling agent for your nutraceutical gummies?
To answer that, put on your food scientist hat for a moment and ask yourself these other questions first:
- What are you making and what other ingredients are you using that may interact with the gelling agent?
- What are your priorities (flavor release, mouthfeel, simplicity, being vegan, temperature stability)?
- What temperature are you heating your mixture to?
- How comfortable are you handling finicky ingredients?
- Do you have flexibility to mold at different temperature conditions?
- Do you have a stoving room to remove excess gummy moisture?
You know your nutraceutical gummy needs better than anyone, so take a look at this chart of 7 common gelling agents, and get ready to conquer the nutraceutical industry.
Below you’ll find the most popular gelling agents for nutraceutical gummies, including pectin, gelatin, agar, carrageenan, gellan gum, and acacia gum. Take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of each agent to help you balance your unique priorities and develop the perfect product.
7 Different gelling agents for nutraceutical gummies:
Source: Plant tissues, (especially apples and citrus)
Varieties: High-methoxyl and low methoxyl (and many subcategories)
- Heat stability
- Excellent flavor release
- Many varieties including fast- and slow-set
- Tricky product handling
- Sensitive to calcium and other cations
Source: Beef, pig, fish
Varieties: Alkaline- or acid- extracted; Different strengths
Benefits: Very bouncy and classic like gummy bears
- Terrible flavor release
- Not heat-stable
- Sensitive to acid
Varieties: Seasonality leads to different strengths
- Easy to work with
- Good heat stability
- Sensitive to acid
- Poor flavor release
- Brittle gel
Varieties: Harvested from several types of seaweed (Kappa, Iota, Lambda)
- Varies by type (some gel and some don’t; some have good heat stability, some don’t)
- A decent mimic for gelatin
- Mediocre flavor-release
- Harder to work with than gelatin
- Sensitive to acid
- Sensitive to cations
- Bad press lately re: health effects
Varieties: High-Acyl and Low-Acyl (very different characteristics)
Benefits: Varies by type (some gel and some don’t; some have good heat stability and some don’t)
- Not great mouthfeel
- Gel is brittle
Vegan: Generally considered vegetarian, but produced by bacteria (technically an animal)
Source: Tree sap
Varieties: Incorrect species can be harvested
Benefits: Distinct chewy texture that is not truly a gel
Drawbacks: Off flavors are common due to impurities or incorrect species being harvested
Source: Grain products
Varieties: Infinite varieties depending on ratios of amylose:amylopectin and whether the starch is modified and how
Benefits: Varies by type (some gel and some don’t; can have very distinct chewy characteristic unmatched by any other agent)
- Characteristics are all over the map due to infinite varieties
- Modified versions aren’t seen as “clean label
- Often requires special high-pressure jet cookers
What happens if you use the wrong gelling ingredient?
The good news is that even if you’re not a food scientist and you mistakenly choose the wrong gelling agent for your product during R&D, you’ll most likely just end up with a melted, sticky mess. Or maybe a bitter, brittle mishap. No one is gonna get hurt because of your chemistry project gone awry.
However, we know that the long process of trial and error in product development can get old fast if you’re ready to start sharing your awesome product with people who need your help as soon as possible. That’s why some business owners like you decide to skip the kitchen experimentation and focus more time on the real mission: helping people feel better with your gummy.
Our food scientists are always ready to help when it comes to choosing the right gelling agent for a nutraceutical gummy, or even a blend of multiple gelling agents! That’s right, some of them can be used together to particularly good effect for certain challenging issues.
If you’re excited to share the benefits of nutraceuticals and elevate your customer’s experience, selecting the right gelling agent for your gummy is an absolute must!
Want to avoid some of the typical trial and error associated with this process? Go ahead and ask the questions only a food scientist would be able to answer: Contact us here!