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Innovation in the gummy market for supplement success

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Gummy supplements: Optimizing your recipe for success

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As the vitamins, minerals and supplements​ (VMS) market continues to inspire trends that spill over to other areas in the store, gummies are leading the way as the dominant player of non-liquid product forms.

Ease of swallowing is a key consideration for consumers when deciding on a supplement form, and this can present barriers for traditional formats such as tablets and capsules. As consumers increasingly look to maximize the sensory experience with softer forms, the gummy vitamin and supplement market is expanding and appealing to a growing consumer base within the wider VMS space.

“Gummies evolved from traditional children’s confections,” explains Kate Jacobsen, Vice President, Research & Development, Catalent Consumer Health. “Formulators added more nutrition, such as vitamin C, to create multivitamins, and evolution and continuous innovation led to gummy supplements targeting adult and elderly populations.”

“The joy of eating candy merged with good-for-you attributes and created a winning combination.”

Today, gummies are easier than ever for consumers to access, available across multiple locations from the beauty store to the traditional pharmacy. Data from SPINS for 2023 shows 17% of total VMS sales come from gummies, appealing to consumers seeking a range of health benefits.1

“Sleep is the number one health focus for gummies – almost two-thirds (65%) of all sleep-focused sales in VMS are coming from gummies as a product form,” explained Brandon Casteel, Vice President of Channel & Retail Partnerships, SPINS, in a recent Spotlight On Broadcast​ on NutraIngredients.

Cold & Flu is another key health target for gummy products; it’s the number one health focus across the entire VMS market, of which 26% of sales come from gummies.1

Gummy formulation: Hitting the sweet spot

Today’s consumers want it all, and nailing the user experience and factors such as color, flavor, dose loading, and targeted ingredients is crucial. There is a wealth of nuances that go into developing a successful gummy product; for formulators who want to succeed in this space, this presents all kinds of challenges. The good news? It’s a fast-moving market with plenty of headroom for growth.

“The bar has gone up for the overall consumer experience,” says Catalent Consumer Health’s Head of Marketing & Strategy, Pat Vesay. “Within dietary supplements, there hasn’t been anything to rival the usage experience of a well-made, great-tasting gummy vitamin or gummy supplement.”

“There are still places where gummies can continue to innovate – the technologies and the expertise are there.”

Innovation is key to stay relevant and grow, and flavors are a big part of that. As global sugar consumption becomes a bigger concern generally, sugar reduction is a much-discussed topic when it comes to gummy formulations. Gummies must taste good, and manipulating the sugar content to address taste and health is a key consideration for formulators, as both low-sugar and sugar-free products have their challenges.

Using fiber to replace bulk sweeteners in sugar-free gummies requires formulators to understand the flow and viscosity of the formulation throughout the process and the expertise to control the texture as the product ages. Sugar elimination can also require a high intensity sweetener to improve the final taste and make it more appealing to consumers.

Sugar reduction is another option, requiring formulators to create a low-sugar product with a similar taste and profile that will age in line with a traditional product. For many formulators, this can be a preferred, less complex solution than sugar-free.

As well as tasting good, formulations also need to be stable in terms of texture and consistent in color. The finished product must remain consistent – without sweating or hardening, for instance – from the day the consumer opens the bottle until the last gummy has been popped. Factors to minimize the aging process must be controlled from the base formula, and this requires skill, access to the right ingredients and understanding the limitations of full-scale production.

Selecting the right partner is key

Working with a partner who understands the supplement business and a formulator’s goals and challenges can help expand or improve your current gummy offering.

“It’s important to understand that there is an art to the gummy development process. There are a lot of levers that can be pulled in that process,” says Catalent’s Vesay.

“It all requires a combination of technical expertise, a little bit of creative problem solving and a lot of rigor as you go through the steps from an idea to formulation, to a finished product that goes out on shelf.”

“Ultimately, you want to be working with a partner who understands how to do all these different things – and that’s where Catalent comes in. By using a product in our product library, for example, you can remove up to about a year of the typical VMS development timeline, accelerating your speed to market, and saving costs.”

As gummies continue to attract a growing audience – including the elderly population whose swallow challenges present an opportunity for gummy expansion – innovating with textures and flavors and driving diversity into this market is key for successful formulators to stay one step ahead. Lastly, choosing the right strategic partner with a history of expertise is key.

Missed the Spotlight On broadcast? Catch up on demand

Register here to watch Opportunities & Insights in a Dynamic Gummy Market​ and join our expert speakers as they reveal consumer insights and formulation strategies for successful innovation with gummy supplements.


1.​ SPINS, L52 weeks, ending 12/31/23.

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