With so many choices and dosage forms it is hard to know what your customer will prefer. Traditionally, supplement and medical brands have always opted for gelatin capsules but, following the horse meat scandal in the UK combined with a growing surge towards healthy non-meat products, the world’s leading capsule suppliers are seeing all the major growth in one area: HPMC

Joris Dewit is a Belgian native who heads up sales in Northern Europe for Capsugel, the biggest capsule manufacturer in the world trading from Bornem in Belgium. The company currently has around a 50% share of the capsule market, but with the potential to increase this number even further. From his time working at Capsugel, he has established some strong links with supplement brands, contract manufacturers and capsule traders alike in the UK, Sweden and Germany. Joris has recently been promoted and is as enthusiastic as ever about his trade so we put some questions to him that are regularly asked of us. Rather than give you the information second hand we have gone straight to the horse’s mouth.

What are the best-selling capsules in your range?
Our most popular capsules currently with the highest growth rates are the Vcaps Plus capsules. They are pure HPMC and water and avoid the use of a gelling agent like carrageenan gum which has received a lot of bad press lately. This vegetarian capsule category is growing every year by more than 25% because people want everything to be “free from”:

Preservatives
Allergens
Gluten
Starch
Non GMO
Plasticizers
Solvents
Pesticides
Non-GMO

In addition, capsules also contain much less unnatural excipients than tablets.

Capsugel Vcaps Plus capsules allow you a “short”, clean and clear labelling and do not hide any bad components that will enter your body. The vegetarian and no allergens claim are the most important ones currently. Out of our market research we saw that 35% of supplements launched in Western Europe between 2009 and 2014 had a clean label versus 17% in Eastern Europe. Clean label launches are actually growing by 14% per year since 2009. What’s also important is that there is 26% price premium for clean label supplements versus non-clean label supplements. Vegetarian labels in supplements have a price premium of 18% compared to non-clean label supplements.

What is the main benefit for an emerging brand working with a company like Capsugel?
Working with Capsugel gives you complete peace of mind. We combine the best quality, traceability and compliance with the best and most natural product you can have in the marketplace. There have also been a number of recent incidents with Chinese and Indian sourced capsules with chromium contamination.

Capsugel only uses pharma grade gelatin and HPMC (food grade is not enough). We have local production, so can guarantee fast lead times to help emerging brands cope with a bigger than expected demand. Putting our Vcaps Plus or the Capsugel logo on their packaging gives the consumer a sign of trust and confidence in their brand. Also, our colour lab and colour stock program can give them the ability to distinguish themselves from other brands, as all company owners and stakeholders know differentiation is the key to success.

What tips do you have for companies entering the supplement market?
Listen to the consumer. They want their supplements as clean and natural as possible.