Making vitamins taste like candy isn’t a new thing. Chewable vitamins have been around since the 1960s, rising in popularity with the introduction of the Flintstones chewable vitamins for children. These Flintstone vitamins had a faint candy taste, so they were more palatable for kids, offering a tastier way for parents to supplement their children’s diets. 

Gummy vitamins are a more recent invention, coming in various colors, flavors, and shapes. Similar in taste and texture to gummy candies, they are also used to supplement the diets of children and people who can’t easily swallow pills. Today, gummy vitamin manufacturers continue to refine their products, with some even introducing vegan, sugar-free, and gluten-free varieties.  

Gummy Manufacturing: From Candy to Dietary Supplements

The origin of gummy candies goes back to Germany in the 1920s. Bonn-based confectioner Haribo began making chewy candies inspired by the trained bears that appeared in street markets and festivals throughout the nineteenth century. The candies were made primarily from gum arabic, which led to their nickname “gummy bears”. 

Haribo later introduced “gold bears” in 1967, a similar candy product in gold-colored packets. These “gummy bears” arrived in the United States in the 1980s, where they became popular with American children and candy lovers. 

The 1990s saw two Oregonian parents look for ways to get their daughter to ingest vitamin supplements. They eventually launched Hero Nationals which introduced its gummy vitamin in 1995. Since then, social media influencers have popularized a variety of gummy vitamins.

How Gummy Vitamins Are Made

Gummy manufacturing most commonly entails mixing ingredients with popular flavorings, including cherry, lemon, and orange, and then infusing these with vitamins and minerals. Gummy vitamin manufacturers may mix several vitamins and minerals to make a multi-vitamin gummy or concentrate specific nutrients, such as vitamins C or D, or even calcium or magnesium. Some gummy manufacturers have even infused their products with CBD, one of the active ingredients in cannabis. Though each gummy vitamin manufacturer follows its own recipe, the process of gummy manufacturing is very similar.

Vitamin gummy manufacturing generally follows these steps: 

  • Select and weigh raw ingredients to match specific formulas, some in liquid and others in solid form.
  • Blend nutritional ingredients with water.
  • Prepare gelatin (or its alternative) base separately to give vitamins and minerals jelly-like consistency.
  • Pour this pre-mix with sugar (or another sweetener) into a tank. 
  • Circulate specific amounts of sugar and water into the tank.
  • Transfer this vitamin base into another, larger holding tank. 
  • Test this nutritional mixture for contaminants.
  • Add coloring and flavoring agents, along with more powdered vitamin additives.
  • Pipe gelatin base and vitamin mixture into the mixing tank, where it is all blended together.
  • Cook ingredients until they thicken into a slurry. 
  • Pour slurry into molds, with corn starch applied to the molds to keep the slurry from sticking. 
  • Lower temperature of slurry in molds to 65˚F (approximately 18˚C). 
  • Allow molds to sit for at least several hours (until solidified). 
  • Once solid, gummies are removed and placed in a drum tumbler, separating them.
  • Food-grade wax or oil is added to the tumbler to keep gummies fresh and soft. 
  • Convey gummies, allowing them to solidify further until they reach the steam chamber. 
  • Here gummies are prepared for sugar coating, then returned to a drum to dislodge excess sugar.
  • Machines package-specific numbers of gummies in each bottle or package, after which they are labeled and sealed.

Once gummies are properly packaged, gummy vitamin manufacturers then ship them to distributors or retailers.

Alternative Ingredients for Gummy Manufacturing

Traditionally, gummy manufacturing uses sugar, citric acid, flavorings, syrup made from glucose, food coloring, and gelatin. Recipes can vary, with some gummy vitamin manufacturers using sugar substitutes to lower calories or alternatives to gelatin to make their products more palatable for vegetarians and vegans and those who follow strict religious dietary guidelines. 

Alternatives for gelatin in gummy manufacturing include: 

  • Agar-agar: a jelly-like, flavorless ingredient made from red algae. 
  • Carrageenan: also known as Irish moss or carrageen, it’s made from red seaweed that’s been dried.
  • Pectin: a type of fiber found in many fruits’ cell walls.
  • Vegan jel: made from various elements depending on the manufacturer, it often contains ingredients like carrageenan, tapioca dextrin, and vegetable gum. 

Various ingredients can also be used to replace wheat-based ingredients used in gummy manufacturing to make them gluten-free. These include corn starch, maize flour, rice flour, buckwheat flour, potato flour, oats, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, and other alternatives. 

Which Machine Do I Need?

Prater Equipment Used by Gummy Vitamin Manufacturers

Prater Industries has partnerships that enable the company to automate gummy manufacturing to make the process more efficient and products more consistent. Through Sterling Controls, we can tailor complete automation control systems to tightly control the amount of ingredients into each gummies batch. Our cutting-edge equipment designs allow gummy vitamin manufacturers to reliably process all the ingredients that go into their gummies. Further, Prater’s superior equipment is renowned for its ability to handle large capacities while boasting low maintenance requirements 

Prater Air Classifying Mills for Gummy Manufacturing

Prater air classifying mills are exceptional at grinding sugar, so work particularly well for gummy manufacturing. Using an interstage air classifier contained in a single unit, particles are constantly recirculated and sent back to the grinding zone to ensure optimal particle size distribution size. Our air classifying mills are integrated with pneumatic conveying systems; they can be combined easily within a vitamin gummy manufacturer’s complete operating system. 

For gummy manufacturing, air and metered sugar pass into the area behind the rotor. Here the grinding blades impact particles, accelerating them outward while impacting them. Additional impacts occur against the jaws until particles are small enough to pass through. Pneumatic drafts of air cool and fluidize sugar particles, pulling them towards the classifying rotor. Right-sized particles pass through to the next stage, while rejected sugar particles are ground a second time. As these rejected particles reenter the grinding chamber, they’re reground and combined with sugar particles from the first stage. 

Prater Lump Breakers for Gummy Manufacturing

Prater lump breakers are a key component of the sugar conveyance system in the gummy manufacturing process. Providing gentle impact and shear aids the free flow of uniformly-sized sugar particles. This uniform size distribution helps convey sugar during gummy manufacturing while streamlining operational efficiency and enhancing the quality of the end product. 

With sugar-fed via gravity from the top of the unit, lump breakers work by intermeshing blades with each other or with stationary blades. This ensures sufficient contact fully de-lumping the sugar before utilizing gravity to discharge the de-lumped sugar through a rotary airlock valve and into the pneumatic, typically vacuum, system. Vitamin gummy manufacturers especially benefit from the Prater lump breaker’s ability to reduce particles to optimize conveyancing and eliminate dust generation that can lead to explosions.