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The Ultimate Guide to Manufacturing Gummy Vitamins at Scale

Gummy vitamins and supplements are a multi-billion dollar industry and have never been more in-demand than they are right now. Consumers are opting for these products due to their nutritional benefits and superior taste when compared to other similar mediums. 

Manufacturing gummy products for the pharmaceutical industry mirrors a similar process to that of gummy candies. However, there is one distinct difference. A gummy vitamin or supplement will contain an active ingredient intended to provide a specific health benefit, whereas candies are strictly made for taste. 

Over the past few years, we have seen a major increase in our customers asking for gummy manufacturing equipment. Companies are wanting to expand into gummy vitamins, supplements, CBD gummies, and other similar consumer products to meet the growing demand. 

If you are a pharmaceutical manufacturer and you are looking for more information on either the gummy production process or the types of equipment you can use, you’ve come to the right place. We hope this ultimate guide will help you better understand this rapidly growing consumer product category. 

Types of Gummy Pharmaceuticals

Are you considering adding gummies to your pharmaceutical product line? There are quite a few different types that you should consider. 

CBD Gummies 

CBD is a non-THC oil from the marijuana or hemp plant. It does not cause a high sensation and can help support other treatments for a variety of medical conditions. It is the fastest-growing supplement in consumer pharmaceuticals. In fact, most customers that ask us about our gummy manufacturing equipment are doing so because they want to scale their CBD business further. 

Gummy Vitamins 

Since the dawn of the pharmaceutical industry, vitamins have usually been sold in tablet, capsule, or softgel form. However, with gummies, the consumer can enjoy their favorite daily vitamins in a delicious, chewable medium. If you visit a pharmacy, you will likely see many gummy vitamin options from various brands on the shelves. 

Gummy Performance Supplements

For athletes and fitness enthusiasts, aligning the right supplements with one’s training regimen is essential. Gummy versions of these products are popular because they can be eaten quickly on the go. No need to carry around a drink in order to swallow a hard pill or mix a powder in water.  Some gummy performance products you may commonly seen on the market include: 

  • Energy gummies
  • Protein gummies
  • Pre and Post-Workout Gummies
  • Electrolyte gummies

Health Supplements

Some consumers will take supplements to support their overall health. For example, apple cider vinegar gummies have grown in popularity. Offering a wide selection of gummy health supplements that can match consumer interest can prove a promising new avenue for pharmaceutical brands. 

Lifestyle Supplements

Beyond health and athletic performance, there are some lifestyle gummy supplements that have also grown in popularity. Biotin gummies, for example, are a hot-selling product for those looking to improve the health of their hair, skin, and nails. Biotin is also used in treatment plans for alopecia and can be found in foods like meats, nuts, and some vegetables.

Vegan Alternatives 

For those that adhere to a vegan lifestyle or are conscious about consuming animal byproducts, there are plant-based gummy alternatives on the market. Because gummies are typically made with animal gelatin as their base, this group of consumers are more likely to look for gummies made with ingredients like tapioca starch or agar agar instead. 

Coming Soon: Prescription Gummies? 

When it comes to gummy prescription drugs, there is some debate surrounding the ethics of housing these potentially addictive substances in sweet, edible candies. This is a sound concern. Prescription drug use should not be taken lightly. 

Will we see gummy prescription drugs at some point in the future, though? There is a chance. For example, this report from late 2019 highlights a Seattle startup that was working on making gummy prescription drugs for kids. If you read the article, one of the company’s greatest R&D roadblocks was balancing the active and inactive ingredients to create a stable and solid gummy. 

Gummy medicines may have a positive impact on pediatric medicine. Kids can be resistant to swallowing bad-tasting medicine. Replacing that with a sweeter alternative may be more effective. However, this could raise concerns over children eating prescription gummies in excess if they are granted unmonitored access to them. 

So, what is the outlook for gummy prescription drugs? It’s difficult to say with certainty. Ultimately, it will probably come down to regulatory authorities making the final call. This issue raises similar concerns to those addressed in 2009 when the United States government passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which banned flavored cigarettes. This act was motivated by concerns over flavored cigarettes’ potential appeal to children. Would gummy prescription drugs pose a risk of overdosing to children or adults if they are sweet-tasting and easily consumed? 

When the time comes to decide about the manufacturing and availability of prescription gummies, the FDA will make that final call. Until then, pharmaceutical companies should monitor the development of this and prepare for prescription drug gummies if they are approved for sale under any circumstances. 

The Gummy Manufacturing Process

We’ve already covered this process in-depth in a previous blog post. To provide a quick overview here, the gummy manufacturing process is done in three phases: Cooking, Depositing and Cooling, and Coating and Quality Control. All commercial-grade gummies are produced with professional machine equipment

The Cooking Phase

Ingredients are deposited and cooked in a preheated kettle until it has reached the desired temperature. The temperature at which you heat these ingredients will directly affect the properties of the finished product. 

The mixture created during this phase is known as a “slurry.” Once heated, it will be removed from the kettle and into a storage tank where the final ingredients are added like colors, flavors, active ingredients, and citric acid to adjust the pH and create the “gel”-like consistency gummies are known for.

The Depositing and Cooling Phase 

Once Cooking has finished, the slurry is moved to a storage tank via heated pipes to a hopper on the depositor where it will be deposited into molds that are pre-treated with oil to prevent sticking. 

The slurry-filled molds are then passed through a chilling tunnel to rapidly cool the mixture and cause it to set. After this, the set gummies are removed from the molds and placed on trays to dry. 

The Coating and Quality Control Phase

The final phase contains two sub-phases: coating and quality control to ensure that gummies can be packaged and shipped. Coatings can help enhance the flavor and appearance of the gummy and also prevent them from sticking. 

During quality control, the most important aspect to measure is the water activity in the gummies. Too high of a water activity level can affect shelf-life and encourage microbial growth. 

Best Practices for Manufacturing Gummy Pharmaceuticals at Scale

Forecast Your Gummy Production 

How many batches of gummies will you anticipate making this year? You will need a machine that can meet your specific demands for scope and scale. For smaller-scale projects, we recommend the M80 which can process at speeds up to 30,000 gummies per hour. Looking to quadruple that number? Our M300 can work at speeds of up 120,000 gummies each hour. 

Plan the Space Before You Add the Equipment

Before you add gummy equipment to your production facility, plan your floor space accordingly. Depending on how many batches of gummies you plan to make, you may need more than one machine to meet your demands. 

Vegan or Non-Vegan Gummies? 

Will you be adding vegan alternatives to gelatin into your production process? Perhaps you want to use a non-sugar sweetener? These ingredients will all melt at different temperatures than gelatin and traditional sugar. You should account for these as you select the types of base ingredients you wish to work with. 

Use Gummy-Specific Equipment

Using the right gummy manufacturing equipment for your facility’s scope and scale can drive exponential return on investment. From production equipment to channel counters and molds, you should be using high-end machinery and tooling. 

Measure Water Activity Accurately 

Use a sophisticated water activity meter to accurately measure levels in your gummies. This will help bolster quality assurance processes and prevent premature expiration of the product. 

Ready to Start Scaling Your Gummy Manufacturing? 

If you believe you are ready to start scaling your gummy manufacturing, we want to help make that a reality for you. To learn more about gummy manufacturing equipment, please contact us anytime to speak with one of our team members.

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