The US capsule firm announced the investment today, describing it as enabling a combination of new production lines and technology upgrades at sites in Greenwood, South Carolina, U.S.; Puebla, Mexico; Colmar, France; and Sagamihara, Japan.
CEO Guido Driesen said: “Consumers’ appetite for clean-label products is at an all-time high, and continuing to grow. This trend has contributed to a significant increase in demand for high-quality vegetarian capsules.”
‘Clean label’ is an marketing term used by supplement sellers to suggest a product is healthy without making any specific claims about its impact on a person’s health.
The is no precise defintion of the term, however, it is commonly used to illustrate that a product does not contain artificial ingredients, allergens or - in Capsugel's case - that it is suitable for people who do not eat meat.
According to a 2013 survey cited by Capsugel nearly 40% of dietary supplement users said they choose supplements in vegetarian capsules preferentially, which was an increase from 26% in an equivalent study conducted in 2006.
Whether ill people taking medicine to treat disease are similarly concerned the capsules containing their drugs are vegetarian is unclear as it was beyond the scope of the survey.
What is clear is that vegetarian capsules have been accepted by manufacturers according to Capsugel spokesman Erasmo Schutzer, who cited their funcationality as key.
He told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that: "There already are some pharmaceutical products in the market that use vegetarian capsules, and we are seeing a growing number of these capsules being used in pharmaceutical clinical trials and development projects.
"Pharmaceutical companies are interested in our vegetarian capsules because their inherently low moisture content helps stabilize some formulas against degradation or spoilage. Further, our vegetarian dosage forms have low chemical reactivity and virtually no risk of cross-linking with active ingredients."
Capsugel makes four vegetarian products, production of all of which will be increased as a result of the investment although its Vcap Plus capsules will be a particular focus.