Special Report: Not a Tough Pill to Swallow – Clean Label and Gummies Star in Supplement NPD

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26 Jun 2017 --- The abundance of nutritional information currently available on the Internet is allowing people to educate themselves on all things health and food related, which in turn is boosting consumer interest in dietary supplementation. NutritionInsight speaks with a number of industry experts about some of the key trends and developments regarding dietary supplements.

Dietary Trends Driving Innovation 
“Consumers are more aware than ever that nutrition plays a very important role in our health. They look for safe and effective benefits from nature, focusing on [disease] prevention and improvement of their quality of life. Science and quality are key to continue building a close and trusted relationship with the consumer,” Maider Gutierrez, Director of Marketing & Sales Operations at Frutarom Health, tells NutritionInsight.

Click to EnlargeCaroline Brochard-Garnier, Communications Manager at Rousselot, tells NutritionInsight that personalized nutrition is a trend clearly driving innovation within the supplement market. 

“[This trend] allows manufacturers to tailor supplements based on consumers’ inpidual requirements rather than taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach. For instance, the active demographic may take supplements to improve athletic performance, whereas an aging consumer may look to improve joint function or bone density,” Brochard-Garnier says.

“We experience two major trends within supplement development and innovation: The first is the never ending seeking for new ingredients, whether it is a new herbal, amino acid or other nutrient,” Mr. Shai Karlinski, VP Sales & Marketing at Anlit, tells NutritionInsight, adding that the second trend is “the new presentation. Companies invest R&D resources to develop a dosage form that will be tasty and stable and with high absorption, and above all that is competitive in price – all that to distinguish products from others on the shelf.”

Clean Label Still Key
One of the key dietary and life style trends dominating the supplement market is the clean label movement, which has seen double-digit growth over the past five years in regions across the world.

“With consumers demanding simpler, shorter product labels, there is a mounting pressure for manufacturers to reformulate without artificial additives, such as E-numbers and preservatives, in favor of natural ingredients and transparent labels. In order to meet this growing need, food supplement producers continue to innovate with the latest technologies and ingredients to create entire products that comply with clean label positioning,” Brochard-Garnier says. 

Efrat Kat, VP Marketing & Sales at Algatechnologies, agrees that clean label and non-GMO, as well as vegan/organic product claims are still very much in demand. “The demand for total transparency now involves the entire supply chain. Costumers are more aware, and parameters such as technology, product purity, sustainability/eco-friendly are of growing importance,” says Kat.

“Capsules provide an easy and effective way to deliver clean label supplements. Gelatin, like Rousselot’s, is the most popular excipient used in the manufacturer of soft gel capsules. Although alternatives to gelatin, such as carrageenan, are sometimes used for manufacturing modified starch soft gels, they are not clean label. Derived from natural and sustainable sources, gelatin is a clean label ingredient with no E-number and is therefore not considered a food additive. Fully digestible, gelatin contains 18 amino acids, nine of which are vital to the human body. Along with these added benefits, gelatin capsules enable manufacturers to confidently comply with clean label requirements,” Brochard-Garnier notes, emphasizing that not only dosage delivery forms, but of course also the ingredients must be clean label in order to create a complete positioning. 

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Innovation in Supplement Delivery Systems
So what are some of the innovations we should keep an eye out for in the supplement space? 

“Unique delivery formats is also a growing trend and we are seeing new type of beadlets, vegan capsules and liquid formulations on the rise,” Kat adds.

“Soft gel applications have become increasingly popular across the dietary supplement market, recording an annual growth of 5.4 percent. Due to their taste masking capabilities and smooth texture, soft gels are greatly accepted by consumers and manufacturers across the world,” Brochard-Garnier notes. “Enabling the containment of liquid and semi-solid active ingredients, such applications are used in a range of different markets, including pharmaceutical, cosmetics, beauty and health.”

A key category seeing major growth is gummy supplements. Emerging from the confectionery industry, this delivery form has seen a significant increase in the dietary supplement market, with Innova Market Insights reporting a CAGR of 23.9 percent for this category over the past five years. In the US, the gummies category now represents “more than 10 percent of the supplement market, a statistic that is projected to grow by over 50 percent the next few years.” 

“Widely accepted as the dosage form of choice for children, gummies are increasingly being used in the adult market as a nice and effective way of delivering ingredients such as vitamins or minerals. A component traditionally used in the confectionery industry, gelatin is a key in the production of gummy supplements due to its superior texturizing and gelling functionality. As it is derived from natural sources, gelatin is a safe and clean label ingredient, which enables manufacturers to achieve the desired taste and mouth feel, while appealing to health-conscious consumers,” Brochard-Garnier notes.

Gutierrez agrees that gummies are fast gaining popularity in the supplement area, driven mainly by demand from young consumers who are always open to trying new things. 

“But there is still a gap for more natural and nutritious delivery systems, so there is still some work to do” Gutierrez says, pointing to the importance of continuous efforts in terms of academic research and R&D to improve delivery systems for health ingredients.

“Also important to consider is the older generations who are taking a larger number of food supplements in traditional delivery systems, such as tablets and capsules. For them is all about getting the maximum benefits with the minimum amount of tablets and capsules. Here is where high bioavailability is important. If we can reduce the dosage of a certain ingredient keeping or even increasing the health benefits, we are helping these consumers,” Gutierrez adds.

Looking to the future, Karlinski says key developments are likely to happen in “supplements based on ingredients that currently have taste, odor or stability challenges in the traditional capsule/tablet form such as omega 3, probiotics and herbals.”

Click to EnlargeNot a Substitute for a Balanced Diet
Despite the many benefits supplements can offer, they should clearly not be treated as substitutes for a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle. What role does the industry play in sending out this message?

“The industry is playing a very important role in communicating to consumers the importance of a healthy lifestyle. It is not anymore about using supplements ‘instead of.’ Everything is coming together, and both industry and consumers are heading in the same direction: healthy lifestyle and healthy supplements to get the best of life. Blogs, websites, magazines…., the industry is reaching out to the consumer not only to sell, but also to educate,” Gutierrez asserts.

On this point, Kat notes that although responsible suppliers and key opinion leaders are adequately explaining the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle, “more needs to be done to educate the consumers on the possible cross interaction between different ingredients and what constitute the optimal doses.”

“Supplements cannot be used to replace a healthy diet and lifestyle; although, it can be necessary to regularly take supplements to control or prevent a deficiency during specific life periods, such as pregnancy or aging. To make this clear to consumers, supplement companies should provide key information in their communications, and they are usually pushed by the laws to do so. Such labeling may include advice on healthy eating, possible risks of taking supplements for [prolonged] periods and any recommendations from doctor or dietitians,” Brochard-Garnier concludes.

by Lucy Gunn

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