The Link between Carrageenan and More Tasteful Gummies

Gummy offerings have seen rapid growth in the pharma industry over the last several years as consumers seek a more enjoyable experience from their vitamins and medications. The spike in popularity isn’t surprising, as the candy-like appearance and texture of a gummy may provide a level of familiarity not normally associated with the clinical affair of patient compliance.

Meanwhile, an increasing percentage of the population has begun to identify itself as vegan or vegetarian. As their collective understanding of ingredients grows, more and more consumers are actively scanning pharmaceutical labels for vegetarian options. Manufacturers seeking to comply with shifting market needs must incorporate vegetarian solutions into their products to appeal to an ever-growing population set.

Savvy formulators will recognize that these trends intersect to create an exciting opportunity: vegetarian gummies.

Unexpected animal products

It may surprise readers outside of the industry to learn that gummies are traditionally made with gelatin, a nearly tasteless substance made by boiling down the skin, cartilage and bones of livestock. Gelatin is safe to consume and can even be nutritious depending on the quality of the source, containing a robust amino acid profile. But for the growing vegan and vegetarian populations among us, its inclusion in gummy recipes is undesirable (and unethical).

Formulating vegetarian gummies presents a number of daunting sensory challenges, including the taste of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), the taste of the dosage form and the overall mouthfeel—all of these components need to appeal to the consumer to ensure compliance.

The seaweed solution

At DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, we’ve found that carrageenan—a widely used food ingredient derived from red seaweed—enables formulators to make vegan, non-GMO gummies with excellent mouthfeel, which helps them appeal to the largest possible consumer base. Humans have safely consumed carrageenan for hundreds of years as a natural thickener and gelling agent in a wide array of products, from ice cream and yogurt, to nut milks and baby formula. The cultivation of carrageenan-producing seaweeds is also sustainable, preserving the health and biodiversity of the ocean, while employing tens of thousands of family farmers around the world.

DuPont’s proprietary form of carrageenan is known as Gelcarin®, a plant-based alternative to gelatin that’s typically used in the production of gummies. Gelcarin® technology is easy to use, versatile and proven effective. It maintains structural integrity under high temperatures and can deliver a pure, superior quality product, time after time. It also enables formulators to put non-GMO, vegan, vegetarian, Halal, Kosher and ‘clean label’ designations on their labeling.

Connecting the dots

At DuPont, we can troubleshoot key issues like taste and vegetarian options because we’re able to draw from a rich history of pioneering product development. The intersection of taste-masking and vegetarian ingredients is just one example of DuPont’s forward-thinking strategy for navigating today’s market. Our comprehensive portfolio and extensive technical staff put us in a unique position to create innovative solutions that enable manufacturers to solve the most complex problems facing the industry.


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