There are many benefits that can be achieved through microencapsulation. Knowing when to use this technology is key to formulating products that will be successful in the market.
Flavor and Odor Masking: Increases consumer acceptance by minimizing unpleasant tastes and odors associated with certain nutrients.
Protection: From moisture, acids, ingredient interactions, heat, and exposure to oxygen.
Precision: The stability afforded by encapsulated ingredients allows measuring and delivery of precise levels of the desired nutrient.
Reduce Overages: To ensure a label claim is met, often higher levels or “overages” must be added to compensate for expected losses in nutrient potency that occur during processing. Microencapsulation allows for reduced overages.
Release Parameters: Engineered so that the nutrient can be protected from processing losses, but can be released when desired.
Effectiveness: Encapsulation is critical to such products as medical foods, nutraceuticals, and meal-replacement products where characteristics such as stability, bioavailability, delivery, and effectiveness are closely regulated.
Ease of Handling: Encapsulated ingredients are dry and free-flowing.
Benefits of Microencapsulation for the Consumer:
Flavor and odor masking of ingredients for foods and supplements
One of the first benefits that most people think of when they think “microencapsulation” is flavor-masking. Masking the off-flavors associated with some nutrients is essential. The products we fortify, first and foremost, must taste good—otherwise, no one will eat them. By coating the vitamins and minerals that have objectionable flavors, we can minimize their impact on the flavor profile of the finished product, both for foods and chewable supplements.
Two of the prototypes Watson will be showing at the IFT Food Expo will illustrate the taste-masking power of microencapsulation.
Watson’s heart healthy bar deliveries 485 mg of potassium per serving. The challenge to food formulators is that potassium tastes - well, terrible - and negatively impacts the flavor of food. Watson solves this challenge with our microencapsulation technology that effectively masks the flavor of potassium.
Watson's “Power Sparks” are formulated with a Watson energy premix which delivers the power of B vitamins, Dynamine™ (Dynamine™ is a trademark of Compound Solutions, Inc.), and caffeine. Dynamine™ is methylliberine, a purine alkaloid found in the kucha tea leaf. Watson utilizes microencapsulation technology to mask the bitter flavor associated with both Dynamine™ and caffeine. For our “Power Sparks” formulation, we used fractionated palm as the encapsulation matrix. Fractionated palm, a non-hydrogenated oil, is a great choice for products positioned as non-GMO and responsibly sourced.
Along these same lines is odor-masking. Imagine how unappealing a meal-replacement bar would be if it smelled of vitamins when you opened the foil wrapper. Microencapsulation is effective in masking the undesirable odors associated with many nutrients.
Benefits of Microencapsulation for the Manufacturer:
Protection of nutrients for increased stability
One of the most important benefits of microencapsulation is improving the stability of nutrients, preventing ingredient interactions and degradation. The coating matrix effectively separates particles and prevents them from contacting each other. It also protects them from moisture and oxygen, extending the product’s shelf life.
Precise nutrient amounts
The improved nutrient stability achieved through microencapsulation also means that the nutrient levels in a product can be precisely controlled.
Reduced overages for cost savings
Microencapsulation can also reduce the overages required by minimizing losses. Overages can be expensive, and minimizing them will have a positive impact on gross margin.
Controlled release in the body and during processing
Another benefit of microencapsulation is the control of release point or release parameters. Through controlled-release microencapsulation, we can specify exactly when the core (active material) is released. In this way, reactive materials can be released at the point in the process where the chemical reaction is desired.
For certain products, such as medical foods and nutraceuticals, product effectiveness is closely regulated. Microencapsulation is critical for these types of products to ensure optimal nutrient stability, delivery, and bioavailability.
Ease of handling in production
Another valuable application of microencapsulation is to improve handling during production. Hygroscopic ingredients that tend to clump during processing can be encapsulated to improve their flowability. Microencapsulation can also be used to convert liquids into free-flowing powders.