Elana Shap
December 29, 2022, Updated January 3, 2023

From gagging to a bitter aftertaste, taking pills is no fun.

This is especially true for those who take many medicinal tablets or large soft-gel capsules of vitamins or dietary supplements every day. Parents also know full well the locked lips trick when their child is faced with a pill. 

That’s why functional gummies now account for a 40 percent share of the shelf space of dietary supplements in the United States. The fast-growing market is estimated to be worth $9.5 billion, increasing to $16.5 billion by 2028 according to The Insight Partner.

Two Israeli companies, Capsoil and TopGum, have entered this field with innovative functional gummies that stand out in how they are formulated, putting more of the desired ingredient inside and leaving out undesirable ingredients such as sugar.  

Banishing pill fatigue

“We recognized the worldwide phenomenon of pill fatigue and the spike in the popularity of gummies,” says Dr. Itay Shafat, scientific director of Capsoil FoodTech and a seasoned veteran of the dietary supplement market.

The main innovation of the Capsoil R&D team, based in Kibbutz Shefayim, was overcoming the difficulty of adding oil-based functional compounds to gummies.

Because gummies are a watery matrix, oil-based vitamins and dietary supplements migrate to the surface, exposing them to the risk of oxidation and spoilage, and causing off flavors.

Shafat says that due to this difficulty, existing functional gummies are infused with just 15-20 mg of oil-based ingredients, “so to have a meaningful quantity of at least 100 mg you have to eat at least five gummies.”

Capsoil solved this problem with a technique for converting oily compounds into a powder that dissolves easily in water and remains stable. 

In pilot trials using pomegranate seed oil, Capsoil achieved a 250 mg load of powder per gummy, while keeping it tasting and feeling pleasant in the mouth. 

The ingredients Capsoil is offering in its fruit-flavored gummies include vitamins A, D, E, K; coenzyme Q-10 (a powerful antioxidant); carotenoids (for immune system and eye health), MCTs (medium chain triglycerides for a variety of health benefits); terpenes (natural anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-diabetic aromatic compounds) and cannabinoids.

The supplement with the biggest market share by far, according to Shafat, is Omega-3 fatty acids, worth $3 billion a year. The Capsoil Omega-3 gummy will feature a citrus flavor to mask the taste of the fish from which it is derived. Other gummies come in lime, raspberry and tropical flavors.

Food as medicine

The Israel-based, family-owned Prodalim, a multinational supplier of natural fruit extracts and concentrates for the food and beverage industry, is partnering with Capsoil to put functional fruit juices on supermarket shelves in early 2023.

Shafat sees a growing connection between food and dietary supplements, and the boundary between pharmacies and supermarkets becoming ever more blurred.

Natural gummy vitamins, supplements may cure ‘pill fatigue’
Coffee enriched with Capsoil’s oil-based functional ingredients. Photo courtesy of Capsoil

Capsoil’s technology “opens the doors to products such as juices enriched with MCTs or ice pops fortified with omega fatty acids. Even hot drinks like coffee and tea can get a ‘better-for-you’ upgrade by infusing them with beneficial oils, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, or hemp oils. The possibilities are endless.”

The pandemic had a big effect in preparing the consumer for this change, Shafat says. 

“People are more aware of their health than ever and are open to the concept of food as medicine. Additionally there is also an increase in people’s lifespan and people understand the need for healthy aging.”

While the biggest market for dietary supplements is the United States, Shafat believes Asia has more potential in the functional food segment.

Get ready for Gummiceuticals

TopGum is an Israeli company that manufactures functional gummies for top-tier brands seeking palatable formats for their nutraceuticals.

Last year it launched its patented Gummiceuticals, based on inherently sweet plant-based fibers that are easily digestible and have a strong prebiotic effect. The gummies are also gluten-free, vegan, kosher and halal.

Natural gummy vitamins, supplements may cure ‘pill fatigue’
TopGum Gummiceuticals are based on naturally sweet plant fibers. Photo courtesy of TopGum

TopGum’s production plant in southern Israel can churn out one million gummies per hour. Ingredients cover a range of botanical extracts, vitamins and minerals in concentrated dosages.

Interesting examples are superfood-loaded gummies (curcumin/ginger, turmeric or spirulina); Ying Yang, which contains barrenwort extract and ginseng to boost the libido; a cranberry extract gummy to be taken daily for bladder health or to treat urinary tract infections; and one that has “clinically proven active agents to help increase brain function and concentration.”

TopGum recently completed a “lengthy and complex process” to receive USDA certification as an organic manufacturer of gummies, according to Doron Delouya, VP Product at TopGum.

This designation is important, he says, because “globally, consumers are becoming increasingly attuned to the wellness qualities, the source of the ingredients and the environmental footprint of the foods and supplements they consume.”

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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