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Popping crystals aim to be as big as gummies for nutrient delivery

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Founder of PFHIX thinks crystals could be the next big thing in vitamins since gummies. ©GettyImages/xamtiw
Founder of PFHIX thinks crystals could be the next big thing in vitamins since gummies. ©GettyImages/xamtiw
PFHIX started as a food ingredients company selling its effervescent popping crystals in bulk and under private label, but has recently made a hard pivot into the nutraceutical space, working with companies such as Applied Food Sciences, Glanbia, and Sabinsa that are all developing products using the crystal delivery format.

If the idea of an effervescent granule that pops as it dissolves in your mouth sounds familiar, that’s because the company uses a similar type of technology to Pop Rocks, involving carbonated popping sugar and isomalt.

PFHIX has a patent pending for its crystal technology, according to PFHIX founder Lynn Anthony Hesson.

Hesson worked in the food business for decades developing products incorporating the popping crystals such as ice cream, chocolate, and yogurt for major CPG firms.

However, he spotted another market opportunity for the company’s crystals in the dietary supplements space that was ripe for a disruptive delivery format.

“I hope in five years we’ll be like gummies,”​ Hesson told NutraIngredients-USA.

Question of absorption

Some studies argue that delivery systems such as chews, tablets, and lozenges that dissolve in the mouth may increase absorption rates compared to other dosage forms that absorb in the gut.

A study published in PLoS One​, for example, looked at the oral transmucosal delivery of resveratrol in the form of lozenges. The findings indicated that the oral delivery method appeared to elevate peak plasma levels of resveratrol compared to GI absorption.

Hesson added that while customers using PFHIX’s crystal technology aren’t making any claims that its crystal products promise higher bioavailability or absorption of nutrients, consumers tend to let it fully dissolve in their mouths to enjoy the popping sensation before swallowing.

According to Hesson, the crystals can be formulated to incorporate a wide range of nutrients as well as other materials including flavors, sweeteners, and stimulants such as caffeine.

The dosage sweet spot is in the 2 – 12 gram range, Hesson added.

Market interest

Interest and usage from the market has been strong, suggesting that the novel delivery format is not a gimmick and something that has legs. It was also important to Hesson that he drew in companies targeting adults and broadened the appeal from a product only fit for kids.

“I avoid the words ‘candy’ and ‘Pop Rocks’ like the plague,”​ Hesson said. “Crystals is the term we landed on.”

Global dietary supplements company Sabinsa has developed its own crystal delivery concept for curcumin C3 complex and black cumin seed oil, which 


debuted at VitaFoods Europe earlier this year.

Glanbia weight management and sports performance brand, Progenix, has experimented with crystals as well launching its weight management product in two varieties: ‘sour watermelon pop’ and ‘cinnamon inferno’.

PFHIX has also entered the world of e-sports working with Gamma Labs on its G Fuel Energy Crystals consisting of the same caffeinated formula as its other products with ingredients including taurine, n-acetyl-l-carnitine, tyrosine, an antioxidant blend, and 150mg of caffeine. 

PFHIX will be exhibiting at IFT in Chicago next week where it will highlight some of its latest product concepts, and according to Hesson, there are many other products in the works using the crystals as a delivery vehicle.

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