Soft gel capsules have become a popular form of delivering pharmaceutical and nutraceutical products due to their ease of ingestion and ability to encapsulate liquid or semi-solid substances. Among the many considerations in soft gel manufacturing, color plays a pivotal role, extending far beyond mere aesthetics. The color of soft gel capsules not only affects their visual appeal but also influences consumer perception, product identification, and even the manufacturing process itself.

Consumer Insights: The Power of Perception

Color holds immense power in shaping consumer perception and behavior. In the realm of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals, consumers often associate certain colors with specific properties or effects. For instance, calming shades like blue or green may connote a sense of wellness or tranquility, while vibrant colors such as red or yellow may evoke energy or vitality. Understanding these associations allows manufacturers to strategically utilize color to enhance product differentiation and appeal to target demographics.

Moreover, color serves as a visual cue for product identification and differentiation on store shelves. Consistent branding through color helps establish recognition and fosters trust among consumers, enabling them to quickly identify their preferred products amidst a sea of options. (1)

According to Mintel, every year since 2021 almost 7% of global capsule launches have been soft gels.

The Role of Color in Soft gel Manufacturing

In soft gel manufacturing, achieving precise and consistent coloring is essential to meet both aesthetic and functional requirements. The process of coloring involves the incorporation of dyes or pigments into the gelatin shell material during formulation. Manufacturers carefully select colorants based on factors such as stability, solubility, and regulatory compliance to ensure product safety and efficacy.

However, the coloring process in soft gel manufacturing is not without its challenges. Variations in raw materials, temperature, humidity, and processing conditions can impact color consistency, leading to deviations from desired hues.

Understanding the Color Changes in Soft gel Manufacturing

Color changes in soft gel manufacturing can occur due to several factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic to the manufacturing process: (2, 3)

  • Raw Material Variability: Variations in gelatin and other raw materials can result in differences in color absorption and dispersion, leading to inconsistencies in the final products appearance.
  • Processing Conditions: Factors such as temperature, pH, humidity, and mixing dynamics during encapsulation can influence the distribution and interaction of colorants within the gelatin matrix, affecting color uniformity.
  • Light and Oxygen Exposure: Soft gel capsules are susceptible to discoloration when exposed to light and oxygen, leading to degradation of colorants and changes in visual appearance over time.
  • Chemical Reactions: Interactions between colorants and other ingredients within the formulation can trigger chemical reactions that alter color properties, necessitating careful formulation design and compatibility testing.

How to Achieve Color Consistency in Soft Gels

Color plays a multifaceted role in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical soft gel capsules, influencing consumer perception, product differentiation, and manufacturing processes. By understanding the significance of color and implementing robust quality control measures, manufacturers can ensure consistent and visually appealing soft gel products that meet the evolving needs and preferences of consumers.

As Sensient, we offer you a line of heat stable natural colors for soft gel and other prolonged high heat applications.  Through our natural color library, proprietary innovations and developments in color technology, a wide palette of heat stable natural colors can be used to enhance your product’s brand. Our dedicated technical and application team will support your product development journey along the way with their high expertise in understanding coloring challenges in soft gel manufacturing processes.

With our specialized equipment and technology, we offer ready to sample heat stable colors for your soft gel application. See our broad spectrum of TiO2 free and clean label colors that are customizable to meet your brand needs.

1. Forbes, The Psychology Of Color: 5 Ways You Can Use Color To Build Brand Identity
2. Naharros‐Molinero, A., Caballo‐González, M. Á., de la Mata, F. J., & García‐Gallego, S. (2024). Shell formulation in soft gelatin capsules: Design and characterization. Advanced Healthcare Materials, 13(1), 2302250.
3. Acar, C., Ekmekci, S., Toprak, C., Gun, G., & Babuc, E. (2022). Key Considerations, Challenges, And Solutions For Soft Gelatin Capsules.
4. Mintel GNPD 2024

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