Episode 123 – Gummy Central®: Sugar-Free Gummy Formulations



On this episode of the CPG & CBD University Podcast, it's the latest in our gummy central series as we look at the hot trend of sugar-free gummies. From the formulation to manufacturing, how do they taste? Look? Why the craze? This is the CPG & CBD University Podcast, and it starts right now.

I'm Joe Agostinelli, host of the CPG & CBD University Podcast. We're bringing you back behind the scenes of gummy central on this episode. Today, I'm joined by two members of our in-house formulation team as we discuss one of the hottest trends on the gummy market, sugar-free gummies. Zach Burrell and Jessica Quinn join me today. Welcome back to both of you.

Zach: Thank you very much. Good to be here.

Jessica: Yep.

Joe: Zach has been here, you know, quite a bit. Jessica hasn't been on the podcast since last year, and before we make any viewers or listeners think some of my coworkers may not like me, there's a good reason why you haven't been here since last year. And that's because you had a baby.

Jessica: I did.

Joe: First one? First kid?

Jessica: First one. Yep.

Joe: And how is she doing?

Jessica: Going strong, three and a half months. She's good, cute, very healthy, and very happy.

Joe: Good. Well...

Jessica: She's like the happiest baby I've ever met, like she's always happy. Except when she's hungry, then she cries, and then we feed her, and then she's happy again.

Joe: There you go. Awesome. Well, congratulations. And obviously, best wishes is...three and a half months, it flies.

Jessica: Mm-hmm. Yes, it does.

Joe: Crazy. And I don't even have any kids.

Zach: Soon to be three and a half years.

Jessica: Yeah, I know.

Joe: What's that?

Zach: I said soon to be three and a half years.

Joe: You obviously don't have any kids either. I was gonna move on to our first topic but, you know, Zach wanted to..."Hey, yeah, it's gonna grow up super fast." All right. On that note, back to our topic at hand, sugar-free gummies, a topic many of our contract manufacturing partners have discussed with us. So, let's start with a typical gummy formula. How much sugar are we talking about in a regular gummy?

Zach: So, if you think about what goes into a gummy, the majority of it's gonna be the syrup and the sugar, which make up 75% to 85% of a gummy. So, the rest of it being the, you know, the pectin, the active ingredients, whatever you want to put in it. So, it's a pretty significant portion and that's just kind of what gives the gummy the gummy structure. I mean, that's what a gummy is, is the combination of those two ingredients. So, the tapioca has some sugar content in it as well, along with the sugar we actually put in. So, it's a pretty significant portion.

Jessica: As far as like the supplement facts panel though, it's not totally different from if you're doing like a sugar-free versus sugar. It depends on the size of the gummy, the serving size, and then if it's coated in sugar. But the calories aren't really that much different, and the carb load too.

Joe: So, as many people look to cut back on sugar, or maybe they have dietary health restrictions, the sugar-free option certainly can allow many consumers to still enjoy the benefits of vitamin gummies. Some of the folks we're talking about here, perhaps?

Jessica: Sure. So, like if you're counting every little carb, like if you're on keto diet or something, or if you're diabetic for instance, then yeah, it does help. You're going to cut your carbs, your overall net carbs anyway is going to be affected by using sugar-free.

Joe: So, a sugar-free gummy, and we talked about the percentage, and there's obviously a number of sugar substitutes out there from what I've seen, you know, obviously just at the grocery store. Is there a certain one that's used for sugar-free gummies? Or how do we still get that great tasting gummy in a sugar-free variety if we just mentioned how much of a regular gummy is contained with sugar?

Jessica: So, when you're using like your sugar replacements, like Stevia and monk fruit, we actually don't...we use those in like a really small concentration in the gummy, like our... To give solids to the gummy, we're gonna use erythritol and xylitol, which don't really impart any taste. They're just going to be like a...they replace the sugar part.

Zach: The structural components to the gummy.

Jessica: Yeah. The structural component, yeah.

Zach: And something like maltitol as well would be kind of a syrup replacement for that. They don't have the same sort of...they're sugar substitutes is what they are. The Stevia and monk fruit, that's gonna be for like your flavor and like the sweetness to it.

Jessica: There's like no taste to...if you try xylitol and erythritol by themselves, they don't taste like anything.

Zach: It's very bizarre.

Jessica: Yeah.

Zach: Yeah.

Joe: I've had like the xylitol gum and some of those products out in the market, so yeah.

Zach: It's kind of like shrimp, tastes like whatever you put like on it.

Jessica: Yeah.

Joe: I like the analogy. Are there certain flavors that maybe won't work with a sugar-free gummy that do with a regular gummy? Or is the flavor profile still pretty much the same?

Jessica: You can flavor it any way you want.

Zach: Yeah. Really, the flavors and colorings we use don't typically have any sugary components to them. It's what makes 'em nice because we can use 'em in a, you know, majority of our products. Just depends on what the customer wants, as always, for flavoring or colors.

Jessica: As well as actives.

Joe: What's that?

Jessica: As well as actives.

Zach: Of course. Yeah.

Joe: You mentioned the sugar coating on the gummy, so obviously a sugar-free gummy is going to look different. Is there a different feel? Consistency?

Zach: Yes. The short answer is yes.

Jessica: Yeah.

Joe: Long answer.

Zach: So, yeah, coating in sugar alcohols instead of pure sugar is a very different mouth feel, a very different experience, and also, over time...we prefer to starch sugar-free gummies for sure. It's a more effective coating for just the gummy composition when you're making a sugar-free versus regular.

Jessica: But I mean, overall texture, it's not...I mean...

Zach: It's not completely different. No, no, no.

Jessica: It's similar.

Zach: It's similar.

Jessica: I'd say like the Thermo's better with like the stickiness, like when we gotta dry them, so.

Zach: Also, we've got a cooling effect though, so it's an interesting experience having the sugar-replacement coating rather than a sugar coating.

Joe: Does it feel any different? Is the consistency the same? How hard is it to, you know, when you're working with a sugar-free gummy, to get that same consistency as a regular one when they come off the machine?

Jessica: I think it would more depend on the actives, I guess, unless you're using...we're still kind of figuring out with like different, like if we're using like a fiber serve or whatever [inaudible 00:06:49]

Zach: Yeah. There's options that we have and we're still exploring what the most effective options are, but we've done pretty well so far. I've actually been pretty shocked at how delicious some of these are. I think my favorite gummy we make is actually sugar-free gummy. It's the cherry flavor that's incredible. I didn't believe it was sugar-free at first, and that's not just advertising.

Jessica: Eat one too, that's really good too. Yeah.

Joe: I hit the microphone, I must have...120 episodes, it's like my first one, I'm new. Anyways, I actually had, I think it was the beet one I had when I was back in the lab. It's very good.

Zach: And I've had people blind test them before and they didn't believe it was sugar-free after I told them.

Jessica: Yeah.

Joe: I'm one who doesn't want a whole lot of added sugar to my diet, so I would be one who would be great to blind taste test the sugar-free ones.

Zach: Yeah, we can set that up.

Joe: Yeah. Perfect. We'll do it on the podcast some time.

Zach: Oh, yeah. Live taste testing.

Joe: There you go. Love it. Great idea. On the next episode.

Zach: Writes note.

Joe: As for shelf life, we've talked about on past episodes, usually, I think it's two years for most product... There we go again. For shelf life, we've talked about on past episodes, it's usually two years, give or take for...does the shelf life get affected any differently with sugar-free gummies?

Jessica: Not that we know of.

Zach: No.

Jessica: Yeah. It would...

Zach: Nothing significant, if there is any change. And also, I think the only difference, like we talked about the coating earlier, would be the...how the coating behaves over time might be a little different than a regular gummy because, you know, sugar versus sugar substitute. But it's nothing to worry about for sure.

Jessica: Yeah.

Joe: Going back on the coating real quick, does it look the same as if a sugar-coated gummy we talked about, would it be coated? And is it still like a white coating? Does it...

Zach: Yeah, it looks very similar.

Jessica: Yeah. It's just when you go to taste it, it's a little different.

Zach: Little different, yeah.

Jessica: Yeah. Because it doesn't taste like sugar.

Zach: They interact with like atmospheric air differently.

Jessica: Also that, yeah.

Joe: Interesting.

Jessica: Hygroscopic.

Zach: I'm sorry. Atmospheric water in the air.

Jessica: Yeah.

Zach: That's what I meant, yeah.

Jessica: Like the moisture.

Joe: Got it. All right. So, sugar-free gummies, anything else I didn't mention as we talk sugar-free? I know it's...

Zach: I think the last just note would be the texture really doesn't change too much, the actual gummy itself. Like we talked about the coating and we talked about the ingredients, but the gummies themselves, we've been pretty solid at getting it very similar to a sugar gummy. So, you barely tell the difference unless we tell you.

Joe: Once you come up with a sugar-free formulation, is it easy to replicate that? Or as we add more actives, then maybe that's something where we've gotta do a little different?

Jessica: It's always gonna be an issue, the actives, and how it...but I mean that doesn't...it's not dependent upon the sugar-free components.

Zach: Yeah. And the actives are pretty independent, whether or not they're gonna cause a problem or not. So, it depends, doesn't matter which way you go. I also know, production side, it's actually been really nice working with the sugar-free as they deposit a lot nicer, so it's...I like the handling of them a little better actually.

Joe: And for now, as we mentioned on the onset, most of these sugar-free options are on our private label's side and they make it to our in-house brands, we'll obviously let our viewers and listeners know. And we'll have to do a taste test, so perfect.

Zach: Sounds fun. Yeah, let's do it.

Joe: So, to wrap up the latest in our gummy-central-themed episode, visit gwgummies.com to learn more about Global Widget's capacity and scalability to help your brand add a gummy vitamin, excuse me, to your offering. Again, that's gwgummies.com. Thank you, Zach and Jessica for joining me on this episode.

Zach: Thanks for having us again.

Joe: And as you can hear in the background, it's a fun day at Global Widget as we record this episode. And don't forget to hit subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast platform of choice, and you can also catch full video episodes on the Global Widget YouTube channel. I'm Joe Agostinelli, host of the CPG & CBD University Podcast. Thank you for tuning in.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. CBD products are unintended to treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult your personal physician about CBD and using CBD products. CBD should never be used by anyone under the age of 18. This podcast is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.