Gelatin vs. Vegetarian Capsules: Best Explained Pros & Cons

Capsule Manufacturing



In the fast-paced world of nutraceuticals, making the right choices in capsule manufacturing can significantly impact your product's success. Among the myriad of decisions to make, one key choice that often comes into focus is the selection of the type of capsules for your supplements. Gelatin and vegetarian capsules are the two primary contenders in this arena, each with its set of advantages and disadvantages.  Summit Rx is a full-service contract capsule manufacturer and packager, and specializes in certified organic capsules with pullulan shells. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the pros and cons of both gelatin and vegetarian capsules, providing examples and insights to help you make informed decisions for your capsule manufacturing processes.

The Essence of Capsule Manufacturing

Capsule manufacturing is a meticulous process that involves encapsulating powders, liquids, or other active ingredients into a convenient, easy-to-administer form. Whether you're developing vitamin supplements, herbal remedies, or other nutraceuticals, choosing the right capsule type is critical to ensure the quality, stability, and acceptance of your products. Summit Rx takes pride in manufacturing capsules without or minimal use of excipients and making the final product with a “clean label” tag.

Gelatin and vegetarian capsules are the two dominant players in the capsule manufacturing game. Here is the ultimate guide to capsule manufacturing.

Gelatin Capsules


The global hard gelatin capsules market size is projected to reach $3.2 billion by 2032 registering a CAGR of 6.4% from 2022 to 2032. Few of the advantages of gelatin capsules are,


1. Cost-Effectiveness: Gelatin capsules are often the preferred choice for manufacturers working with tight budgets. They are more economical, making them ideal for cost-sensitive projects. 

Example: If you are producing a basic daily multivitamin supplement for a mass market, gelatin capsules can help keep your production costs in check, allowing you to offer an affordable product.


2. Ease of Manufacturing: The process of manufacturing gelatin capsules is well-established and straightforward, ensuring consistency and reliability. Summit Rx has a 47,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility equipped with capabilities that can help control and achieve the desired particle size and density

Example: When you need to scale up production rapidly, gelatin capsules can be manufactured with ease, offering stability and reliability.


3. Optimal Barrier Properties: Gelatin capsules provide an excellent barrier for sensitive ingredients, preserving their potency by protecting them from external factors like moisture and oxygen.

Example: Nutraceuticals containing ingredients vulnerable to moisture or oxidation, such as certain vitamins or probiotics, benefit from the protective properties of gelatin capsules.


4. Versatility: Gelatin capsules are compatible with a wide range of ingredients and formulations, making them a flexible choice for manufacturers.

Example: If your nutraceutical product contains a blend of various ingredients, including powdered herbs, minerals, and vitamins, gelatin capsules can efficiently encapsulate them all.


Few of the disadvantages of gelatin capsules are,


1. Not Suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans: Gelatin, derived from animal collagen, makes these capsules unsuitable for consumers adhering to vegetarian or vegan diets.

Example: If you're marketing a product to a health-conscious audience with strict dietary preferences, such as a plant-based protein supplement, gelatin capsules may not align with your brand's ethos.


2. Limited Religious and Cultural Acceptance: Some religious or cultural groups avoid products containing animal-derived ingredients, which can limit your market reach.

Example: If your product targets a diverse global market, the use of gelatin capsules may limit acceptance in regions with significant vegetarian or vegan populations.

Vegetarian Capsules


The global vegetarian softgel capsules market size is projected to reach $824.39 million by 2030 registering a CAGR of 4.6% from 2021 to 2030. Few of the advantages of vegetarian capsules are,


1. Plant-Based and Vegan-Friendly: Vegetarian capsules are crafted from plant-based materials and are completely free from animal products, making them an ethical choice that caters to a broader consumer base.

Example: If your company's mission is to promote sustainability and ethical practices, using vegetarian capsules can help you align your products with your brand values and attract eco-conscious and ethical consumers.


2. Allergen-Free: Vegetarian capsules are hypoallergenic and suitable for individuals with various dietary restrictions or allergies.

Example: If you're developing a supplement for individuals with known allergens to animal products, vegetarian capsules ensure your product is safe for consumption.


3. Halal and Kosher-Certified Options: Many vegetarian capsules are certified halal and kosher, making them suitable for consumers who seek these certifications.

Example: If you are entering markets where these certifications are important, such as the Middle East or specific Jewish communities, vegetarian capsules can help you reach a broader audience.


4. Eco-Friendly: These capsules align with the growing trend of environmentally conscious consumer choices and can be marketed as an eco-friendly option.

Example: If you are targeting the wellness market where sustainability and environmental responsibility are paramount, using vegetarian capsules can be a strong selling point for your product.


Few of the advantages of vegetarian capsules are,


1. Higher Manufacturing Costs: Vegetarian capsules can be more expensive to produce, which may impact the overall cost of your final product.

Example: In cases where your budget is limited, such as producing a line of low-cost vitamins for budget-conscious consumers, the added cost of vegetarian capsules might not be justifiable.


2. Moisture Sensitivity: Some vegetarian capsules are more sensitive to moisture, which can affect the stability of your product, especially in humid climates.

Example: If you're distributing your nutraceuticals in regions with high humidity levels, like coastal areas, you may need to invest in additional moisture barrier packaging to counteract this sensitivity.


3. Limited Compatibility: Vegetarian capsules may not be suitable for all ingredients, especially those with specific solubility requirements.

Example: If your nutraceutical formula contains complex, sensitive compounds that require a specific type of capsule for protection, you may need to consider alternative solutions.

Choosing the Right Capsule for Your Nutraceuticals

The decision to use gelatin or vegetarian capsules in your capsule manufacturing process should be grounded in the specific requirements of your product, the preferences of your target audience, and your budget constraints. 

For cost-effective options and when working with ingredients that are well-preserved within gelatin, traditional gelatin capsules may be the preferred choice. On the other hand, if you aim to tap into the growing market of vegetarian and vegan consumers or need to cater to specific dietary preferences, vegetarian capsules provide a more suitable alternative.

Ultimately, the choice between gelatin and vegetarian capsules in capsule manufacturing for nutraceuticals depends on a variety of factors. By considering the pros and cons of each, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your brand's values, product goals, and the expectations of your target audience. Capsule manufacturing in the nutraceutical industry offers versatile options, ensuring that there is a solution for every product and every consumer. By choosing Summit Rx as your full-service contract capsule manufacturer, you can benefit from our experience, expertise, and commitment to quality. Contact us to discuss your capsule manufacturing needs or request a free quote today!