There’s been a multitude of new delivery formats for dietary supplements beyond pills, tablets, and capsules. Gummies are all the rage right now, and several companies are coming up with Keurig/Nespresso-type supplement appliances. The latest addition is… an edible cup infused with vitamins.
“We focus on sustainable materials to replace plastic. When we look at the concept of Loliware, what we’re really trying to have resonate with audiences is the idea of sustainability coupled with new experiences in food and drink,” Briganti said.
Lolivita is the latest prototype product by Loliware, an edible cup start-up that is now part of billionaire Mark Cuban’s portfolio after co-founders Chelsea Briganti and Leigh Ann Tucker struck a $600,000 investment with him on an October 2015 episode of Shark Tank.
The co-founders, industrial designers who met while studying at Parsons School of Design in New York City, originally developed the cups for a Jell-O design competition they did on the side for fun. “Loliware is one of those stories where it went from a silly, fun, competition entry to actually being a company with interest in 45 countries,” she said.
Through the show, global nutrition company DSM contacted the team to collaborate, and six months later, Lolivita was ready to showcase.
Like fruit leather in cup form
Loliware’s products are a plant-based fare—the gelatinous structure is mostly made out of agar, derived from seaweed, while the flavors and colors are derived from fruits and vegetables, Briganti said.
“The mouth feel is similar to a gummy-slash-liquorice, or fruit leather,” she added. “It’s structural enough to hold a beverage or dessert, but also flexible enough so you can actually bite into it.” Upon filling with cold liquid, the material stiffens and becomes a lot more structural.
Showcased at IFT was a tangerine-colored and tangerine-flavored Lolivita cup with a daily servings worth of multivitamins each, which of course is only the first iteration. “The next for the entire functional food line is that we’re prototyping an electrolyte cup, an energy cup, and also a protein cup—we’re working on a bunch of functional food iterations all to be launched next year in a staggered type of launch,” she said, adding that there isn’t a specific date yet because it’s still at the concept realm.
Moving categories from food to supplements isn’t easy, and Briganti said there are still more tests and trials they have to do before it can be launched to the market. But she described response at trade shows to have been very positive.
“It’s like the perfect fertile ground to launch at a food ingredients and technology show, to show a new and novel application of vitamins—we had an overwhelming positive response, everyone was really excited about it,” she added.
From concerts to weddings—a new audience for supplements?
Dietary supplements are mostly targeted to individual consumers or households, but with a “functional vessel” application, Lolivita is targeting its cups to events. “We’re targeting high waste, high volume applications. We’re targeting outdoor concerts, and eco weddings, and the event space—anywhere you would typically use plastic,” she said.
Yes, there are compostable cups out there, and it’s growing very quickly, Briganti said. “But even if you use a corn plastic cup, you feel about using that cup, but where does that cup go?” she added. “You still have something left after you use it, but with Loliware, if you eat it, it’s like it’s never existed. We’re in a realm we like to think we created, it’s post-sustainable.”