Although the latter guarantees hygiene and efficiency, it compromises the expected mouthfeel. Today, however, such choices are no longer necessary, says leading gelatin specialist GELITA.
Dr Kevin Robinson (KSR) talked to Natalie Leuwer (NL), GELITA’s Category Manager Food Specialties, about a new fast-setting gelatin — CONFIXX — and how it can be seamlessly integrated into the starch-free production process.
KSR: What makes CONFIXX unique?
NL: CONFIXX is the first and only fast-setting gelatin that allows for the starch-free production of fortified gummies.
This creates opportunities for companies producing these on-trend supplements to work with different active ingredients, simplify the production process and make considerable cost savings — safe in the knowledge that there will be no compromise on the all-important texture.
KSR: What sparked this innovation?
NL: Traditionally, gelatin gummies are produced using a starch-based manufacturing process, which involves the products being stored and dried in starch-based moulds.
The starch is continuously reused in the process. When fortifying ingredients are added, there is a high risk of cross-contamination during subsequent production changes.
As a result, you either waste a lot of starch by completely replacing it after each batch or you use more efficient ways to make fortified gummies, such as starch-free production.
In this process, the gummy solution is poured into a reusable plastic or silicone mould that can be cleaned, thus eliminating the risk of cross-contamination. However, standard gelatin is not suitable for this process owing to the time it takes to set.
Alternative gelling agents such as pectin or carrageenan are available, but they simply don’t deliver the sensory properties that consumers expect from their gummies. That’s why we developed CONFIXX.
KSR: What other technical advantages does starch-free production offer?
NL: Its fast-setting properties are certainly the most important aspect. With CONFIXX, products require very little drying time and can be demoulded within minutes.
Plus, it works with all types of fortification ingredients, both liquid and dry, and its minimal interaction with active ingredients also prevents degradation. The gelatin does not require a high level of heat during production and can be processed at temperatures lower than 80 °C.
The sensory qualities of CONFIXX are another important aspect. Compared with other hydrocolloids, gelatin has a unique ratio of gel strength to elasticity, which creates the elastic texture of gelatin-based gummies.
In addition, the melting point of gelatin is very close to human body temperature, resulting in unrivalled texture and flavour release in the mouth. Our customers constantly tell us that the texture of gelatin-based gummies is preferred by consumers.
CONFIXX makes it possible to produce gummy supplements with this popular sensory effect. We can also tailor the texture according to individual requirements, meaning that we can adjust the firmness and elasticity to achieve the desired texture, whether softer or firmer.
KSR: Can you tell me more about the interaction between CONFIXX and active ingredients?
NL: When using CONFIXX, a wide range of active ingredients can be integrated into formulations. Even heat-sensitive substances such as vitamin C are easy to incorporate, as they can be added to the gummy mass after the cooking step.
This gentler treatment means that manufacturers do not have to overdose with expensive active ingredients such as prebiotics and probiotics. In addition to gelling, the stabilising and emulsifying properties of CONFIXX make it suitable for oil-based ingredients such as fish or CBD oil.
This allows manufacturers to avoid the use of stabilisers and emulsifiers, saving resources and simplifying the ingredients list. In addition, CONFIXX does not have an E-number as it is made from natural raw materials.
KSR: How is the fortified gummy market evolving?
NL: The market for gummy supplements is booming! Between 2018 and 2022, the fortified gummy category experienced an exponential compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of a whopping 37%, according to Innova Market Insights.
In 2021, gummies accounted for 9% of all new dietary supplement launches. North America currently leads the fortified gummy market, but Europe is catching up quickly, accounting for 13% of global supplement launches in 2021 and 24% in 2022.
The global market is expected to reach a value of $48.5 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 14.5% during the forecast period. But despite this growing demand, manufacturers have struggled to achieve the desired texture in an efficient starch-free process.
KSR: What are the drivers behind this current and forecast growth of the fortified gummy market?
NL: Consumers want to follow a healthy lifestyle and stay fit and mobile throughout life. Here, the importance of specific nutrients, minerals or other active ingredients is well understood.
They play a vital role in wellbeing — whether that’s an increased need for minerals owing to intense endurance activity, a need to promote gut health with probiotics because of antibiotic use or simply to support normal immune function with vitamins D, C or zinc.
That’s why the supplement market in general is booming. However, indulgence and consumer-friendly formats are extremely important.
This is why the relatively new market of fortified gummies is outpacing other supplement formats in terms of growth; they’re palatable, consumer-friendly and easy to consume.
KSR: How does GELITA support customers who want to enter the gummy supplement market with CONFIXX?
NL: Our technical application service team is a real powerhouse and able to help with virtually any problem that may arise. Our experts work hand in hand with our customers, from formulation through to process development on industrial equipment.
We also offer extensive regulatory and marketing expertise. This means we can help to bring our customers’ products to life and establish them successfully in the marketplace.
Together with our partners, we want to develop the next generation of fortified gummy solutions. We can’t wait to see what new approaches the use of CONFIXX will inspire.