5 reasons capsules are king

From optimal dosage levels and efficacy to lifestyle preferences, here's why capsules remain the preferred format for 44% of consumers.

Frank Romanski, Executive director of strategic programs

May 8, 2024

4 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Capsules are a strategic solution for brands new to nutraceuticals.
  • Capsules mean efficacy. Period.
  • Capsules are second only to tablets in terms of awareness, usage and preference.

[Editor's note: This article is just one of many in the new Natural Products Insider digital magazine, "Chew on this! Delightful delivery formats." Download it for free and learn about how to make gummies right (because sometimes they are total failures),alternatives like chewables, liquids, effervescent tablets, oral strips and jellies. And much, much more!]

Capsule innovation is creating unique opportunities for brands to disrupt the nutraceutical market with products tailored to consumer preferences. Most notably, capsules can help brands deliver not only potential health benefits, but also add value and functionality for consumers like convenience, swallowability, taste, release kinetics, efficacy, and lifestyle preferences such as plant-based or vegan options. 

Why should brands opt for capsules over other dosage forms? Capsules offer five advantages as a strategic solution for brands just entering the nutraceutical space or for those looking to supercharge their portfolios. Capsules accommodate: 

1. Giving consumers what they want 

As consumer demands in the nutraceutical space evolve, so do the preferred delivery formats. However, despite the emergence of new dosage forms (hello, gummies), capsules remain a favored format for many consumers globally. An in-depth global consumer survey commissioned by Lonza involved 2,500 respondents across various regions exploring the relationship between consumers and oral solid dosage forms. The study placed capsules clearly in the spotlight, as they ranked second only to tablets in terms of awareness, usage and preference, highlighting their large and growing prominence in the market compared to other oral solid dosage forms. 

Related:Trend Spotlight: Delving into supplement delivery formats – analysis

The research demonstrated a clear preference for capsules among consumers, who cited ease of swallowing and product integrity as key drivers. Capsule buyers also seem to invest more for their chosen dosage form — willing to pay a premium for high quality, efficacy and ease of use. This increased willingness to spend more on capsules over other oral solid dosage forms allows manufacturers to position their products as premium options within an otherwise highly competitive landscape. 

2. Protecting ingredients 

Consumer demand dictates rapid adoption of trending health ingredients in new formulations. However, navigating their inclusion isn’t without hurdles. Formulating with specific ingredients such as probiotics requires dosage delivery formats that overcome challenges in stability, bioavailability and targeted release. Probiotic microorganisms play a crucial role in supporting gut health and are rapidly expanding into high-demand health areas like immunity, mental health and weight loss. While the market for innovative probiotics is booming, a significant obstacle remains — protecting these delicate microorganisms from degradation in the stomach. By leveraging designed-release capsule technology, brands can unlock the full potential of beneficial bacteria, increasing the survival rate of the probiotics as they pass through the stomach, and thereby supporting absorption and efficacy. 

3. Creating unique ingredient combinations 

A somewhat recent innovation in encapsulation systems is putting a capsule inside a capsule. Such dual-capsule systems encapsulate chemically or physically incompatible ingredients, such as powders and liquids within a single convenient dosage form. These capsules allow for precise tailoring of release profiles, enabling immediate, delayed or controlled delivery based on the specific needs for both the exterior and interior capsules. This makes for optimal bioactivity and absorption. 

A study investigating the release behaviors of several different capsule-in-capsule combinations used caffeine and the probiotic acidophilus to see which would delay caffeine release best, as well as deliver the probiotic through the harsh conditions during gastrointestinal (GI) transit. The study revealed that a mix of designed-release capsules exhibited the potential for the slowest possible release profile of caffeine, while also most effectively targeting acidophilus survival and delivery to the colon. 

Capsule-in-capsule technology also offers endless customization and innovation potential. This is a game-changer for nutraceutical brands, as it enables the creation of unique multi-ingredient supplements — such as prebiotic and probiotic combinations — that also enhance convenience for consumers. Naturally, each may also be customized for the brand with a nearly unlimited variety of appearance options. 

To read about the last two reasons why capsules stand above the rest, download the free Natural Products Insider digital magazine, "Chew on this! Delightful delivery formats" here.

About the Author(s)

Frank Romanski

Executive director of strategic programs, Lonza Capsules & Health Ingredients

Frank Romanski, Ph.D., is executive director of strategic programs at Lonza Capsules & Health Ingredients. He is an expert at harnessing the power of cutting-edge science to drive growth, impact and sustainability within the chemical and life sciences industries. His deep understanding of the interplay between science, technology and business — combined with an unwavering commitment to excellence — has given Romanski a track record of turning scientific innovations into commercial successes. He also served at BASF for a dozen years, culminating as director of business management and global head of marketing. 

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