The company, which is based in Charleston, SC, markets a line of finished products based on its proprietary technology which it brands as Microgel. Founder and CEO Douglas Giampapa said the delivery mode provides a strong differentiator for the company, which he says boosts bioavailability of his company’s line of supplements, branded as Focus+Recall, REM Sleep, Bioactive Multi, Vegan Essentials, and Immune Super Boost.
Tests show absorption issues for competing products
Giampapa said tests his company had sponsored at New England University during the development process showed that competing multivitamins and other supplements when dissolved left a residue of sand-like particles. The relatively large nature of these particles limits the uptake by the body of the bioactives they contain before they are excreted, he maintained.
By contrast, the system he developed houses much smaller packets of actives within a proprietary gel matrix. That matrix consists of acacia gum, soluble fiber, citrus pectin. Giampapa said its more natural alternative to some other gel-like delivery modes and has a prebiotic function as well.
Taste has been a hurdle
Giampapa said while he believes the microgel delivery mode offers absorption advantages, it does come with challenges, too. Many supplement ingredients taste bad, and with the advent of sports gels and other similar products, consumers expect a gel product to taste good and have a pleasant mouthfeel. They might be less willing to put up with bad taste than consumers of some of the popular shot products seem to be.
“One of our biggest challenges has been taste. With tablets or capsules you don’t have to worry about that. It has been a real marriage of art and science for our food chemists to make these products appealing,” Giampapa said.
The market seems to agree with Giampapa that the product will be attractive to consumers. Following on the announcement of a deal with KeHE in late 2020, the company now will be distributed by UNFI. UNFI’s footprint combined with that of KeHE will give his company blanket coverage of the market, Giampapa said. At the time of the KeHE deal Giampapa told NutraIngredients-USA that his privately held company’s sales are projected to rise by as much as five times this year, and the new UNFI will only put further credibility into that prediction.
“Partnering with UNFI will bring the latest innovation in dietary supplements to the shelves of natural product retailers throughout the country,” he said.
While the pandemic supply spikes has changed the market, the underlying dynamic of consumers’ pill fatigue seems unchanged. Experts contacted by NutraIngredients-USA identified this as a trend as long ago as 2014 and it continues to drive the market today.