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Delicious and Nutritious Gummies


Perfection has been achieved, at least in the eyes of many a supplement consumer: the ability to enjoy a “candy” and know you are giving your body the nutrition it needs to stay healthy. 

Hans Riegel, Sr., a confectioner from Bonn, Germany, started the Haribo company in 1920. The prototypical “gummi bear” was launched a couple years later. However, it wasn’t until 1982 when Haribo launched the first American made gummi candy. A year earlier, a somewhat competitor, Trolli, also of Germany, launched the gummi worm it called “Brite Crawler.” 

An entire generation of adults thus became familiar with the fruit-bursting chewy candy. And it seems as though adults and kids cannot get enough— and may not be turning back to conventional capsules or tablets. 

This observation is reflected by some high-intensity activity in the gummy supplement market. In 2012, Church & Dwight Co., which owns Arm & Hammer and other popular brands, boldly bought Avid Health, parent company of gummy supplement brands Nutrition Now and Northwest Natural Products, for $650 million in cash. 

Stuart and Deborah Lowther, founders of Life Science Nutritionals (LSN), Burlington, ON, Canada, are also a great example of the rise of the gummy. LSN first launched its IronKids Gummies in late 2007, after Stuart Lowther’s previous employer rejected the gummy vitamin. Lowther got the idea from a supplement trade show held in the Middle East in 2003. As reported in the Burlington Post (January 16, 2013; retrieved on inside- halton.com), LSN produces 35 million individual gummy vitamins a month under the trade names IronKids and Adult Essentials. According to the company’s website, Lifescinutritionals.com, “Our Ironkids Gummies and NBA All- Star Gummies are two of the most widely recognized children’s gummy products on the market.” 

The rise has been so meteoric for LSN the Lowthers decided to purchase a manufacturing facility in Quebec in 2010; it was one of only three in North America that has had the technology and the only such one in Canada. In 2012, LSN’s new facility experienced triple growth capacity, and at the time of publication, the owners were weigh- ing the option of creating a new gummy producing plant in Burlington. 

Nordic Naturals, Watsonville, CA, known for its quality line of fish oil sup- plements, began a small gummy line with its signature multivitamin, Nordic BerriesTM, originally conceived by founder and CEO Joar Opheim for his own kids. After becoming the best-selling multivitamin in the U.S. natural products channel, “we realized the need for really great-tasting vitamin supplements,” said Tone Larsen, product development manager. After Nordic Berries, omega-3 gummy products were a natural next step and remained the balance of the company’s gummy line until recently when it added Vitamin D3 Gummies and Vitamin C Gummies as select complements to its omega-3 products. 

Minnesota-based Biothera’s Wellmune WGP®, a form of beta glucan clinically proven to strengthen immune cells that help keep the body healthy, is an ingredient in gummy products in Latin America as well as its own proprietary finished product line marketed under the brand Immune Health Basics®. These products include Gummy Protection from Daclaf, S.A. de C.V. based in Mexico City, Mexico. Gummy Protection contains Wellmune WGP, vita- min C and zinc and is distributed through Farmacias de Similares, a drug store chain with approximately 5,000 locations in Mexico and Latin America. 

“Several years ago we expanded Immune Health Basics to include a children’s chewable tablet,” said David Walsh, senior vice president, marketing and communications, Biothera. As the popularity of gummies rose, Biothera recognized the opportunity for a children’s gummy product that delivers an efficacious serving of Wellmune WGP (50 mgs) plus multivitamins and minerals. 

“One of the fastest growing trends in the health supplement market is the gummy bear vitamin,” wrote Randy Shaw, Assemblies Unlimited, Bloomingdale, IL, on the company’s website.”They’re sweet, they’re fun, and they’re deceptively chock full of vitamins and iron.” 

Shaw elaborated that a significant appeal for gummy bear vitamins is the “fun factor,” and this is one of the strongest motivators for children to take their vitamins every day. Besides the gummy itself, Shaw explained, the packaging must likewise be captivating. “Whether it’s bears, worms or super- heroes on the inside, the package itself needs to establish the fun and vitality of the gummy vitamin product. Many manufacturers of gummy vitamins opt for a colorful approach to their packaging, in both the labels and the basic container. Clear colored plastic allows the product to be seen and recognized by the customer, and helps to lend a distinctive look to the product on the retail shelf. In keeping with the notion of reflecting the fun of gummy bear vitamins through the product packaging, some manufacturers are experimenting with new shapes in their rigid packaging. Flared, or bell shaped plastic bottles help the product stand apart from the more traditional vitamins on display. Using an alternative packaging model is a good way of achieving both product and brand recognition.” 

Walsh agreed, asserting that the marketer must keep in mind two audiences: kids and mothers. Popular fruit flavors, colorful appearance and a texture that is consistently chewy are the hallmarks of gummies that children will want to take. “If you miss the mark, the product will fail,” he warned. Mothers are often habitual Product label readers and now more than ever want their children’s gummies (and other supplements) as natural as possible. That means limit-ed sugar (3 g or less) and no artificial flavors, col- ors or preservatives.

“Interestingly,” Walsh related “gummy shape seemed less important to our Immune Health Basics line so we went with the popular gummy bear shape. Once you’ve developed a potential successful formula, the question becomes whether all of your ingredients can be combined in the manufacturing process and what affect will they have on the end product’s taste, texture and color? Formula tweaks are common during manufacturing.”

Tweaks, of course, are often necessary especially in a form such as gummies, which pose a few challenges. Larsen pointed to perfecting the taste as a challenge for any gummy brand. The second challenge, he said, is maintaining good shelf life. “We understand the added importance of meeting these challenges without the use of artificial ingredients. We’ve been able to accomplish this through the exclusive use of natural fruit flavors and preservatives.”

Additionally, Larsen reported that Nordic Naturals began using the latest emulsification technology to create new omega-3 products including Omega Boost™, a creamy liquid formulation, and gummy-based Omega-3 Fishies™. The emulsification technology allows for the incorporation of more of the essential omega-3 fats into a single serving of these products. Its Omega-3 Fishies, for example, includes 300 mg omega-3 in one gummy. 

“There are a number of factors That seem to be at odds with each other in the formulation of a successful gummy supplement,” said Walsh. 

“The objective of course is to create a great-tasting gummy that kids want to eat on a daily basis. The formulation challenge is combining not-so good tasting vitamins and minerals with delicious fruit flavors without adding too much sugar and achieving the right texture or chewiness. It can be a real balancing Act.” 

When it comes to ingredients, more and more are being used in gummies without challenges. For example, Bill Levi, vice president of strategy and business development, Nutrition 21, said, “There are no issues in using Chromax in gummy formulations. It is a microgram ingredient, so it does not take up much room. Chromax is very heat stable, so it remains stable and effective even after gummy manufacturing. Finally, it is organoleptically neutral; that is it does not impart any off-flavors or odors.”

Nutrition 21 recently announced it entered into an agreement with the aforementioned Church & Dwight, so that it may use Nutrition 21’s Chromax chromium picolinate in its portfolio of vitamin and mineral nutritional supplement products, such as Vitafusion and L’il Critters supplements. 

Gummies will only become more in demand for people of all ages, and for all conditions, beyond multis. Observed Larsen, “As a class of products, gummies offer a unique delivery form that aims to provide better-tasting supplements. With improved taste comes greater compliance and consistent intake of important nutrients like omega-3 essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, etc.”


■ Biothera, (651) 675-0300
■ Nordic Naturals, (800) 662-2544
■ Nutrition 21, (914) 701-4500

Non-GMO Project