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The art and science of gummy innovation – article

As consumers continue to give gummies the green light, Funtrition’s Inspiration Center will elevate the creativity in gummy innovation

August 21, 2023

6 Min Read

Chewy nutrient gumdrops in novel shapes and pretty colors?

Been there, done that.

To win tomorrow’s consumers, your next gummies better be more than that—potent pops of effective ingredients, mouthwatering flavors beyond simply sweet and a texture that makes people slow down and savor. After all, these supplements spend way more time in the mouth than any other. Grabbing market share with your next gummy launch demands a blend of science and art—a dose of product development daVinci.

With an appeal that glows like a ruby red gumdrop in a pile of grey pills, gummies are now the single most popular supplement delivery format, according to Nutrition Business Journal’s (NBJ) Delivery Format Report 2022. Mintel’s Global New Products Database shows that between 2017 and 2021, launches of gummy and chewy supplements increased by 153%. U.S. sales exploded by 75% in 2021, raking in nearly $13 billion. By 2024, NBJ expects the gummy market to reach $16.75 billion—four times its 2016 size.

Consumers are looking for gummies to address specific conditions throughout the body, from brain, immune and digestive health to energy, mood, heart health, women’s health and beauty-from-within. In NBJ consumer research, about 40% of respondents looking for healthy sleep supplements prefer gummies. For stress, that preference climbs to 43%.

While the most fervent fans skew younger, gummy love spans generations. NBJ’s 2022 research reveals that 43.3% of Gen Z shoppers prefer gummies, compared to nearly 31% of Millennials, 25% of Gen Xers and 19% of Baby Boomers. New supplement users are more likely to favor gummies, according to NBJ data. Among consumers who started taking supplements within the last 1 to 5 years, about 35% favor gummies over other formats. They could be chewy little bridges into big sales—gummy gateways into a lifetime of supplement use.

 

Lots of sales. Lots of potential. And lots of competition. Consumers are more discerning than ever. Fortunately, manufacturers have cranked up the science and technology to offer brands a more exciting palette of gummy potential—and one company is opening a new door, literally, to gummy innovation.

Global innovation HQ

A door in contract manufacturer Funtrition’s Bogota, Colombia headquarters will swing open to a color-splashed gummy wonderland—think Willie Wonka’s factory, with biochemists instead of Oompa Loompas. The global leader in advanced gummy development and contract manufacturing is launching its Inspiration Center, an entire wing dedicated to catalyzing creativity in all things gummy, from concept and branding to flavor and formulation. The facility was built around the company’s mission of blending art and science to deliver gummy solutions. “Combining the perfect gelling agents to obtain delicious flavors, exquisite aromas and unique and memorable sensorial experiences is an art,” said the Funtrition® marketing team. “Developing new innovative technologies and mixing just the right quantities of hydrocolloids to achieve maximum performance and resistance is a science.”

In bright colors borrowed from bottles of kids’ gummies, the Innovation Center includes an analytical R&D lab, a pilot plant with glass walls for viewing, a packaging innovation lab, the sensory world space (where certified panelists test and taste every gummy), coworking space and a fun park with games and space for fun collaboration. “What excites us the most is having the opportunity to meet face-to-face with our customers along the way,” the marketing team noted. “Customers get the chance to experience the evolution of their gummies in person, from prototyping to packaging.” All fueled, of course, by potent Colombian coffee.

 

The pilot plant helps Funtrition® keep customers ahead of the curve—and on the fast track. The facility is designed to offer customers the opportunity to advance a product from pilot to industrial scale quickly and easily, allowing for a flexible scale-up process where ideas can begin at the Center and then be manufactured at either the Colombia headquarter facility or the new U.S.-based manufacturing facility.  “The huge advantage of differentiating the industrial plant from the pilot plant when first developed is that we can now reduce the margin of error, the risks, the costs and above all the time, guaranteeing product development that is much more agile and safe,” the Funtrition® marketing team explained.

While the high-tech machinery hums along, a more basic resource works as well—the human body. The company is nearly finished educating and certifying 20 Funtritionists to work on its Sensory Panel. Panelists are undergoing intense training to hone their ability to distinguish and evaluate the aroma, taste and texture of gummies. Not everyone who started the training will make the cut—only those with the strongest senses. This panel will help create standout flavors—one of a supplement’s most critical attributes. Responding to a NEXT Data and Insights April 2023 survey question asking, “what is the primary reason you bought the supplements you’re taking,” more people said “flavor” than “scientific research,” making taste a make-or-break element in product success.

 

Construction of the Inspiration Center is nearing completion, with final construction phases on the packaging lab and fun park slated for 2024.

Innovation in practice: Melting supply chain challenges—and costs

A palette of pioneering gummy technologies empowers Funtrition® innovation in the Inspiration Center and throughout the vertically integrated company’s other facilities. GummieX®, a technology featuring a mixture of hydrocolloids to create the perfect gummy, is the newest.

Glittery gummies are the rockstars of the supplement market. And, like any rockstar worth their salt, gummies are ever-so-sensitive. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity during storage, loading, unloading and transporting impact gummies’ physical and chemical properties. At high temperatures, they literally melt. And cold shipping sends logistics costs climbing like the mercury in a thermometer in the back of a UPS truck in August. GummieX® solves these challenges using a unique matrix of hydrocolloids that resists extreme temperatures instead of a single hydrocolloid. No cold shipping required.

Plus, GummieX® enhances the flavor and texture. The technology allows formulators to counteract ingredients that normally have a negative impact, like collagen (that can harden beauty gummies) or omega-3s (which can add a sandy texture). Using hydrocolloids also, critically, slashes time to market as it avoids having to add actives for chewiness, stickiness or elasticity. With GummieX®, brands get a more delicious, heat-resistant gummy that can save enormous costs across the supply chain.

Meeting gummy demand

In addition to new cutting-edge gummy technologies, deep experience in the format (Funtrition® gummies have been used in more than 100 SKUs globally) and the new Inspiration Center, Funtrition® has also vastly expanded U.S. capacity with a 62,000-sq.-ft. production and packaging facility in Florida. The final construction phase for this newest expansion of the 20-year-old company is underway and NSF certification is set to begin.

To capture the hearts and mouths of discerning supplement consumers, the next wave of best-selling gummies must be a blend of art and science that delivers effective nutrients in an indulgent, enjoyable experience. Creating those gummies can also be an effective and enjoyable experience when using a partner with the powerful tools—and the experience and creativity—to unleash them.

Learn more about how Funtrition® can keep you ahead of gummy innovation here!

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