Innovative applications based on pea starch have gained significant attention in recent years and are key in responding to the global demand for more sustainable plant-based solutions.
Boasting high performance gelling, texturizing, binding, coating, thickening and film-forming properties, pea starch technology is used in a wide range of food applications – from baked goods and confectioneries to soups and sauces. It has also been adopted beyond the food and beverage industry, supporting plant-based innovations in the animal feed, paper and textile industries.
Now, pea starch is unlocking its potential in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications, as the key ingredient behind an all-new vegetarian softgel technology.
Softgel technology in the spotlight
Soft capsules have been gaining popularity in recent years. As well as safely facilitating the delivery of poorly soluble active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), softgel technology offers several benefits, including versatility, rapid absorption and ease of swallowing. This makes them a favorable dosage form for manufacturers, consumers and patients alike. In fact, the global market for softgel applications is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 5.4% between 2018-2023 – reaching $316.6 billion by 2025.
Gelatin-based soft capsules currently represent the “gold standard” and are the shell-forming material of choice for many pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturers worldwide. Benefits include being efficient to manufacture, easy to digest, and offering excellent film forming properties. However, gelatin also presents specific limitations for both manufacturers and consumers.
Animal-derived – typically sourced from pig or cow skin and bones – gelatin does not cater for the growing shift towards plant-based diets, which is being driven by a combination of religious, ethical, environmental, and health reasons. The unpleasant smell of gelatin can be equally off-putting, while capsules can become sticky, melt or leak in warmer climates – reducing their shelf life. This presents an opportunity for high-performing plant-based alternatives to step up and overcome these challenges.
Until now, though, there hasn’t been a pharmaceutical-grade plant-based softgel solution. Costs associated with longer manufacturing processing times and equipment adaptation have often been cited as a barrier for manufacturers looking to make the switch from gelatin to veggie.
Introducing LYCAGEL™ – the strong choice for plant-based soft capsules
Roquette – a pioneer in plant-based ingredients and pharmaceutical excipients – set out to address this gap in the market by developing a high-performance plant-based alternative to gelatin soft capsules.
The launch of LYCAGEL™ hydroxypropyl pea starch means switching to plant-based softgel technology has never been easier. With hydroxypropyl pea starch forming the base of the LYCAGEL™ solution, it is the power of the humble pea which has unlocked considerable potential for a more sustainable alternative.
The LYCAGEL™ solution delivers on consumer appeal, forming highly transparent, shiny capsules which are easy to swallow with no animal smell and a neutral taste. It also offers enhanced shelf life, providing excellent stability in warm environments.
No more compromises
From a formulation perspective, LYCAGEL™ brings numerous additional benefits. Besides offering strength and seal integrity (reducing the chance of capsule leakage), it can accommodate a range of active fills. This includes those that require higher processing temperatures, such as pastes and waxes, in addition to complex multi-ingredient formulations.
Plus, LYCAGEL™ can be easily integrated into existing manufacturing processes, as well as offering efficient drying time – making the switch from gelatin to plant-based a more attractive proposition for manufacturers.
Crucially, it is the first plant-based softgel technology to meet EU and US pharmacopeia standards and available worldwide – opening up opportunities to be widely adopted across the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries.
Steve Amoussou-Guenou – Global Technical Developer at Roquette
"The LYCAGEL™ system perfectly exemplifies how we can unlock healthier futures through innovation in plant-based ingredients.
By leveraging the untapped potential of pea starch for drug delivery systems, we’ve been able to create a sustainable, plant-based high performing solution that ultimately offers a greater and greener choice to pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturers, consumers and patients.
We’re proud to be part of a thriving natural origin ingredients indutry that is founded on constant creativity and is contributing to global environmental efforts to create a more sustainable way of life through tapping into the best of nature".