Delivery forms in supplements have come a long way since my childhood in the 1980s and now range from vitamin gummies to probiotic-infused straws to stick packs of lactation support powder.

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

June 17, 2019

3 Min Read
Swallowing a dietary supplement pill is so yesterday

Swallowing a pill isn’t exhilarating and it, depending on its girth, can be downright uncomfortable.

It’s no wonder alternatives have emerged over the years to diversify the ways in which we supplement our diet. An analyst recently reminded me of a period eons ago—when I was a boy in the early 1980s in Massachusetts eating Flintstones Vitamins.

Delivery forms in supplements have come a long way since then and now range from vitamin gummies to probiotic-infused straws to stick packs of lactation support powder.

Consumers “are looking for more convenient options,” said Carla Ooyen of Ooyen Research LLC. “There’s a decent amount of the population that just doesn’t like to swallow a pill.”

Supplement gummies and other non-pill products are a substantial business in the United States. Consider data from Euromonitor International that examined sales of “tonics,” which encompass versions of combination dietary supplements sold in liquid concentrates, mini-drinks, shots or oral gels.

Tonics generated $1.44 billion in sales in 2018 in the United States, down slightly from $1.46 billion the prior year, according to Euromonitor.

But a manufacturer of supplements can’t necessarily bank on an alternative delivery form, alone. Outside multivitamins, Ooyen suggested many brands should have an interesting formula as well.

Still, certain categories of products and/or targeted demographics are a natural fit for an alternative delivery system. Circa 1983, I actually remember liking the taste of those Flintstones Vitamins. Ooyen cited as another example products targeting pregnant women manufactured by Premama. Pregnant women, she pointed out, may have sensitive tummies. Consequently, they may find appealing, for example, a powder sold in a stick pack that can be poured into water or another beverage.

For years, BioGaia has been selling products that allow consumers to ingest probiotics through a straw. Consumers may find such a delivery method attractive or challenging.

“This really helps my daughter with her constant tummy aches,” one mother wrote in a 2015 review of BioGaia on Amazon. “Very easy to use, no taste issues, she can't even tell it is anything other than a straw.”

Another BioGaia customer spoke highly of the product on Amazon, but reported a problem with the straws in a 2014 review.

“My daughter sucks down 8 oz of almond milk through a straw every morning, and that little glob of oil with the probiotic still hasn't budged from the straw,” the review stated.

BioGaia Probiotic serves up Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis, a natural Lactobacillus intended to “restore a natural balance in the gut” through good bacteria.

Ooyen cautioned alternative delivery isn’t a panacea. Pills remain an easy delivery mechanism and contain few calories.

Still, the all-mighty pill is far from the only way these days to supplement the diet.

“Alternative delivery is an important niche that’s going to keep on growing,” Ooyen said, “because people do want something that’s either easier to take or more tasty to help them take their supplements.”

Does your company make an innovative alternative-delivery product that has identified a clever way for people to consume functional ingredients—whether it be bars, gummies, shots, stick packs or some other mechanism?

If so, I invite you to enter the NEXTY Awards at SupplySide West 2019 that recognize innovative and inspirational finished products launched to the U.S. consumer market between summer 2018 and July 26, 2019.

The NEXTY Awards at SupplySide West recognize innovation, inspiration and integrity across 13 finished product categories. Winning products represent what’s “next” in wellness trends, in solving today’s health and sustainability problems, in ingredient innovation, in packaging, in condition management, in supply chain growth and transparency, and in health impact.

Products must be submitted by the CPG brands or their representatives, not by ingredient or component suppliers. The submission deadline is July 26, 2019. Winners will be announced at SupplySide West in Las Vegas, Oct. 15-19, 2019.

For more than 20 years, SupplySide has helped those in the food, beverage, dietary supplement, animal nutrition, personal care and cosmetic industries break through the hype and ambiguity to find the information they need to explore, discover, innovate and market their next best-selling product.

About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

Subscribe and receive the latest insights on the health and nutrition industry.
Join 37,000+ members. Yes, it's completely free.

You May Also Like