The last 18 months have brought about a profound focus on how people live and take care of themselves, with consumers very interested in maintaining overall health and wellness. One key area in supporting health is the gut microbiome. In fact, the digestive health market as a whole has nearly tripled in size in the last decade where the use of prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics, that naturally help fortify the gut, has grown significantly, as consumers seek more natural ways to aid digestive health.
For brands with products in the space, finding a contract manufacturer that has expertise formulating and manufacturing digestive health products is essential. Innovation can be an important differentiator between a good and great manufacturing partner. What is exciting for brand owners, as well as quality manufacturers, is the opportunity to create safe and effective, novel digestive health products in a variety of delivery formats that provide flexible options for consumers.
Traditionally, probiotic gummies and softgels were difficult to formulate due to the manufacturing process that limits the survivability of probiotic bacteria in these delivery formats. Advances in gummy and softgel technologies and the availability of heat-resistant probiotic strains now make it possible to be very creative with new formulations. For example, in 2019, SIRIO developed a two-in-one novel softgel delivery system that enables encapsulation of both viable probiotic bacteria and an oil, such as omega-3-rich fish oil. The single softgel containing multiple active ingredients can contribute to an array of formulation positionings.
Brand owners should look for a manufacturing partner that has dedicated probiotic manufacturing suites with temperature and humidity control, ensuring adequate handling, storage and manufacturing conditions of probiotics.
As for gummies, consumers not only want effective products, they also want them to taste good. It becomes then necessary to have a manufacturing partner with high expertise in product development and flavor masking, especially when working with herbs and other ingredients that may have bitter taste.
Another important consideration is the manufacturer’s access to consumer data that may help identify potential gaps in the market. For example, there has been growing demand for dual-benefit probiotic gummies such as digestive plus mood support or digestive plus brain support. Popular ingredients being paired with probiotics include ashwaghanda (Withania somnifera), L-theanine, valerian, saffron, Alpha-GPC (glycerylphosphorylcholine), PS (phosphatidylserine) and zinc.
As consumers become increasingly aware of potential connections between gut health and overall health and wellness, demand for a new generation of digestive health products will flourish. Probiotic expertise is then crucial in providing tailored solutions that meet the needs of consumers. Continued R&D plus working with a reputable custom contract manufacturer will help brand owners introduce new products to market efficiently.
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