[First appeared on GreenEntrepreneur on October 29, 2020]
The market for gummies infused with cannabinoids such as CBD and THC is booming. By 2025, the global CBD gummies market is expected to register a compound annual growth rate of 31.9 percent.
But creating an infused gummy or jelly comes with some unique challenges. If you're getting ready to develop your product, make sure to avoid making these five rookie mistakes.
Related: CBD Gummies: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
mistake #1: sacrificing flavor for high potency
No matter what food product you're developing, taste is king. If customers don't like how your product tastes, they won't come back for more. When creating an infused gummy or jelly, keep in mind that cannabinoids such CBD and THC may have a naturally bitter or hemp-like taste. These flavor profiles can change at higher concentrations.
At potency ratios above 2 to 3 milligrams of cannabinoid per 1 gram of gummy, the hemp's flavor notes will become more difficult to mask. A sweet or sour coating can reduce the perception of bitterness, but at a specific potency, the product will stop tasting like a confection and more like the plant.
Sure, some customers may enjoy a strong hemp flavor, but the majority of people in the market for gummies are looking for a more conventional flavor experience. Sacrificing flavor for an unusually high potency will narrow the appeal of your gummy significantly.
Mistake #2: overlooking consistent potency
While taste is the first essential component for a successful infused product, consistency in effect is a close second. Simply put, the consumer should have the same experience every time. Many infused gummy customers are consuming the product for a specific reason, such as pain relief or sleep aid. If a customer finds their ideal dosage but cannot replicate it with the same effect, they will lose trust in the product and potentially in the industry.
Delivering consistent potency across all gummy batches is a science. Adding the same amount of cannabinoid oil will not necessarily produce the same results. To ensure the best possible distribution of the active ingredient across the batch and a higher bioavailability, use an emulsion engineered specifically to play well with other gummy ingredients.
When testing potency, it's best to take samples from the beginning, middle, and end of the production to ensure the mix times are sufficient to yield a homogenous batch.
Related: The Top 5 CBD Gummies on the Market Right Now
mistake #3: not understanding the limitation of your ingredients
Your active ingredient is not the only component that can cause problems when developing an infused product. Generally, gummies are composed of about 80 percent sugar and corn syrup, 2 to 8 percent gelling agent such as starch, gelatin, or pectin, and less than 1 percent flavor, acid, and color.
There are numerous gelling agents on the market, with manufacturers creating new ones all the time. So, it should not be a surprise that each one works differently and needs to be accommodated accordingly.
Take gelatin and pectin—two of the most common gelling agents. Some product makers prefer to use pectin because it's vegan. But gelatin is significantly easier to work with, creating a firm gummy and producing a brilliant, almost transparent color. Pectin can be a much trickier ingredient. It's not thermally reversible, and if executed incorrectly, it can render a batch unusable.
Moreover, once all ingredients are selected, it will not be as easy as substituting gelatin for pectin or vice versa. Beginning the process with intentional ingredient choices and a thorough grasp of how each one works independently and in conjunction with other ingredients will be invaluable, save time, money, and plenty of anxiety.
mistake #4: not using the right tools
Producing high-quality gummies and jellies requires a few specialized tools, most notably a refractometer and a water activity meter. A refractometer is a tool used to measure the BRIX—or sugar content of the gummy syrup. Generally, 78 to 81 BRIX is the sweet spot for standard gummy syrups, as it should yield a water activity between 0.55 to 0.67.
A water activity higher than this range may lead to mold growth, while a lower water activity may lead to the gummy drying out and becoming overly firm.
Related: 'Everybody Likes Gummies' - Q&A with Power Player, Wana CEO Nancy Whiteman
mistake #5: curing improperly
Every formula is different. It can take gels anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to set and dehydrate appropriately, depending on such factors as the type of mold (starch or silicon), the formula, the temperature, and the relative humidity of the curing room. Too much variation in these conditions can lead to inconsistencies and poor outcomes, so better to understand the proper curing requirements for your formula and location in the beginning.
If you are getting ready to produce your first line of gummies, remember that you are entering a whole new ballpark of infused confections. These five mistakes may be the most common, but they are not the only obstacles you may encounter. Do your research and seek out an experienced partner. If done correctly, the result can be fantastic and innovative.