During our recent webinar on formulating functional gummies, we asked you to send us your toughest questions. We received an incredible response, so we know that you are as passionate about this subject as we are! Most of the questions we received could be divided into themes of heat stability, alternatives to gelatin, sugar free and fortification challenges. Please see the answers below from the experts at our innovation centers:
Because of the global nature of e-commerce, you will begin to see more commonalities across the regions. However, each region will still add its unique touch to appeal to local needs. Pay attention to the emerging trend of personalization that we discussed in the webinar.
Not everyone is ready for 3D printing but the idea of tailoring solutions to lifestyle, age, beliefs (such as vegan and halal), and health goals helps consumers to feel more catered to and included. That kind of personalization will be welcome in any region.
This will depend on the functional ingredients to be used. Use level is important as well as the pH each ingredient may bring to the product. Next, one will need to ensure a gelling agent aligns with the formulation, labeling and processing requirements.
For example, our GENU® Pectin can do an excellent job of setting and providing stability to products with a lower pH. However, if the type of minerals or flavor of the product results in a higher pH (from 4.0–5 or above), then we can also recommend another grade of pectin or perhaps GENUGEL® Carrageenan might be a better choice.
Functional compounds may have different sensitivities to temperature and pH, and there are technologies like encapsulation that can help to protect these actives. In a functional gummy process, these compounds are typically added before acidification, or as late in the process before deposit. The recommendation is to mix them with either glycerin or corn syrup to provide some protection.
This step can impact the product’s overall pH, so we advise using a gelling agent that tolerates this variability. Our GENU® Pectin for fortified gummies can be a good option to maintain gelling and texture characteristics.
It is possible to replace sugar and corn syrup with other solids or bulk ingredients. A key consideration for these ingredients is solubility, as you will want to provide a minimum amount of total soluble solids for gelling agents to set (thinking about pectin), and for the end product to have good firmness and stability. Therefore, polyols or soluble fiber are typically used.
Other ingredients can be used but firmness may be reduced as their solubility and composition varies, depending on the ingredient.
Melting and stickiness may be caused by moisture migration into the product. To eliminate the possibility of this issue coming from the hydrocolloid ingredient, it is important to understand if it has been properly dispersed and hydrated, and if the pH of the product is suitable for its functionality. Another reason can be related to the carbohydrate composition, so the amounts of sugar and corn syrup (or other solids) should be reviewed.
This can also be a common problem with gelatin gummies because of their heat instability, especially when trying to ship for e-commerce or during warm summer months when the temperature can exceed 30°C. There are other ingredient options available with better heat stability than gelatin, such as our GENU® Pectin and GENUGEL® Carrageenan.
CP Kelco has several nature-based solutions — not animal based — that can meet your requirements. They can produce a variety of textures, so matching the texture of one gelling agent with another requires looking at the source, hydration and gelling properties of the different ingredients. You may even prefer a blend. We would be happy to collaborate and recommend the ingredient combination that makes the most sense, considering your texture and labeling needs.
In general, sensory evaluations of GENU® Pectin show that it has a softer, chewy bite, and it can enhance fruit flavors you may be using. Our GENUGEL® Carrageenan is another vegan option. It will not stick to teeth, and it has more of an elastic but refreshing chew. Both pectin and carrageenan can provide shelf stability and higher temperature resistance, for a non-melting and non-sticky performance.
Pectin can be a very good option for temperature stability. Once pectin sets, it forms a thermally stable gel that tolerates higher shipping temperatures than gelatin, which tends to melt at 35°–40°C. If in addition the goal is to maintain texture, a partial replacement of gelatin with pectin can be considered.
Gellan gum is often used in combination with other gelling agents, such as carrageenan or pectin to adjust the texture. KELCOGEL® Gellan Gum provides a firm texture while carrageenan provides a texture range going from firm to elastic. Gellan gum, carrageenan and pectin all have a wide pH working range, heat stability and fast setting rate with great flavor release, making them very compatible ingredients.
Finally, the total soluble solids (TSS) to deposit gummies should be between 77%–78%, with the final TSS typically between 80%–82%. This allows for product stability and texture. It can be achieved with a variety of sweeteners or bulk ingredients, depending on the characteristics of the end product.
Typically, the same equipment can be used when working with other gelling agents like pectin or carrageenan. The main considerations to include or adjust in the process are around hydration and dissolution of the ingredients, as well as higher setting and gelling temperatures.
The concentration of vitamins, minerals or other active ingredients are typically determined by the amount per serving that is intended for gummy supplements to provide. Pectin can be used in formulas where these ingredients are included at higher concentrations (e.g., between 15%–20%), as long as the conditions of pH and solids are still maintained for pectin to set. We have a variety of pectins that can be evaluated to provide good gelling and texture to different types of functional gummies.
Pectin can be used either on its own or in combination with other gelling agents to create liquid-filled gummies, and it is a very good option when thinking about vegan or label-friendly alternatives. Our pectin portfolio includes a variety of options that can be recommended depending on formulation and texture needs.
Some functional ingredients can either shift the pH conditions that allow pectin to set or can be a source of ions that may affect pectin gelation. Working on selecting the right type of pectin can improve setting and overall texture, in the presence of botanical or functional ingredients.
To prevent syneresis in gummies, there are a few things to consider. First, it’s important to maintain the total soluble solids at 80%–82% or correct them if needed. Typically, an increase in soluble solids helps.
Another consideration would be around the gelling agent. For example, the sweeteners or bulking agents typically used in sugar-free gummies tend to provide a weaker pectin gel and more tendency for syneresis, so an increase of 5%–10% of pectin should do a better job at holding water and maintaining firmness.
One more suggestion is to increase the stoving temperature to 35°–45°C to improve drying efficiency.
Finally, if there are any reducing sugars in the bulking agents used in the sugar-free or sugar-reduced formula, they can be adjusted by either decreasing the amount of glucose syrup or reducing the holding time at which the candy mass is exposed at high temperature and low pH.