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Plant-based dietary supplements: How can a brand secure and enhance its offering?

With nearly half of dietary supplements containing plant-based ingredients, the French nutraceutical market is striving to meet consumers’ increasing demand for naturalness. However, this successful trend is accompanied by certain pitfalls: issues of adulterating plant material are indeed common in the dietary supplement sector, despite existing regulatory frameworks and controls.

Many brands therefore understand the interest and importance of differentiating themselves by capitalising on the effectiveness and safety of using such products. Some supply chain stakeholders are even spearheading a new activism movement: providing more guarantees and transparency to consumers with a logo on the finished products, endorsing their quality and safety.

Perception of dietary supplements: between enthusiasm and crisis of confidence

It is no longer to be demonstrated that the dietary supplement market has been booming for several decades – the latest figures still indicate an 8% growth on the French officinal network in 20231 – and is driving numerous innovations (let’s take the example of “sensory” galenics, to which we have dedicated a complete article here2). According to a study by Harris Interactive Toluna3, 59% of the French reported consuming dietary supplements between 2020 and 2022. Paradoxically, the overall perception of this product category remains mixed, particularly among non-consumers: “Unclear“, “misleading“, “useless“, and “dangerous” are words frequently used to describe  the image that the French have of them4 expressing scepticism about the safety and the effectiveness of dietary supplements.

Enthusiasts of nutraceutical solutions lament a lack of proof of efficacy with their average satisfaction rating being 6.9/10. On the other hand, a lack of trust is frequently mentioned among non-consumers who feel the need for scientific and medical endorsement5.

the difficult choice of plant-based dietary supplements for consumers

Risks associated with the quality of plant ingredients

One may question people’s distrust. “Dietary supplements: how to decipher the real from the fake? – What are dietary supplements worth? – Are dietary supplements really effective? – Plant-based dietary supplements: health risks – Ineffective or even dangerous.6

Dietary supplements are regularly scrutinised and criticised in the press, raising questions that are equally important as they concern their safety. For those products composed of plants, the central issue revolves around the “real” nature and quality of the plant-based ingredients used.

These can be subject to risks of adulteration, i.e., any practice aimed at deliberately altering, modifying, or contaminating plant-derived products in order to deceive consumers or gain an illegitimate economic advantage.

This alteration can take various forms, such as the addition of foreign substances, dilution, or substituting lower-quality ingredients.

Each of these biases results in an inevitable gap between what is claimed on the labelling of the finished product and its real composition, which can deceive a consumer who has little choice but to “believe what is written.”

Note that unintentional mix-ups or accidental contaminations can also compromise the quality of a plant material and its derived ingredients.

Adulteration or the art of substitution

For example, elderberries (Sambucus nigra) became particularly coveted for their immune properties during the COVID pandemic. The American Botanical Adulteration Prevention Program (BAPP) issued an alert in 2021 revealing that out of 694 samples of elderberry-based products analysed, 119 (17.1%) were adulterated7. The falsification of these preparations frequently involved the addition of undeclared extracts of black rice (Oryza sativa), considerably cheaper than authentic elderberry extracts, as well as substitutions involving other plant extracts rich in anthocyanins and blue or purple food colourings…

From peanut husks masquerading as grape seeds to Japanese pagoda trees pretending to be Ginkgo biloba, all tricks are good to deceive phytochemical analysis devices – which are often not discriminating enough – and make substantial savings by opting for cheaper substitute plants. This results in a degradation of the effectiveness and safety of the concerned finished products.

Dilute to better dominate

In France, the DGCCRF conducted a surveillance survey in 2017 on plant-based dietary supplements available on the French market8. Monitoring focused on the composition and levels of active ingredients in the analysed products. The results revealed a non-compliance rate of 17%, mainly due to discrepancies between the quantities indicated on the labelling and the measured levels.

Perhaps the most frequent but also the most insidious falsification is that the claimed plant is indeed present in the finished product but in quantities too low to expect to achieve the effectiveness promised by the brand and expected by the consumer. According to BotaniCERT, a plant analysis laboratory and plant expert, 47% of plant-based ingredients analysed between 2020 and 2021 were “diluted or highly diluted.” 9

Transparency, effectiveness, and safety: a triple challenge for plant-based product brands

Consumer  demand for transparency is increasingly leading brands to have their products tested or certified by third parties, accredited independent laboratories. For marketers, the challenge is significant: to persuade consumers to choose “value” over price and find a reliable way to guarantee them effectiveness and safety. In 2022, Lisa Thomas, then Marketing and Innovation Director at Herbalife Nutrition, stated: “Third-party certification is an additional level of security offered to consumers. Although our company conducts rigorous audits of our facilities and product testing, there are certain areas where consumers want additional guarantees.”10

The approach, already widespread in the United States, is increasingly being adopted in Europe and notably in France with the recent launch of the first European quality brand for plant-based products.

transparency effectiveness and safety for dietary supplements for an happy consumer

The Botani+ quality brand just recently launched, already adopted

Created in 2023 by BotaniCERT, a French laboratory expert in the monitoring of plant raw materials, the Botani+ brand aims to guarantee consumers safe and effective products.11

Concretely speaking, obtaining the Botani+ brand results in putting a logo on the award-winning finished products.

This easily identifiable logo allows consumers to navigate through a wide and sometimes difficult-to-decipher range of offerings. It is proof that the product in question has successfully passed a series of chromatographic analyses, advanced techniques that allow the separation, identification, and quantification of the chemical components present in plant extracts.

Botani+ approved botanical quality

Phytochemical identification notably ensures that:

  • The plant is indeed the one claimed on the product labelling as well as the part used (leaf, root, etc.)
  • The plant is not mixed with other species
  • The material is not enriched with synthetic or natural molecules
  • Plant actives are present in sufficient quantities to unequivocally authenticate the species present

Dosing the actives ensures that the plant is not excessively diluted and that its concentration is sufficient to ensure the presence of physiological effects in the finished product.

Reassuring for consumers, the Botani+ logo is also a choice indicator for brands wishing to communicate on the rigor and seriousness of their quality approach. VIT’ALL+ and Nonna Lab12,13  were the first ambassadors of this new movement, providing even more transparency and quality in the plant-based dietary supplement market.

As a brand, sparking an initial purchase is one thing, ensuring it is purchased again is another issue. This depends on the satisfaction initially felt by the consumer, which will encourage them to come back to the same product. Effectiveness is essential because it guarantees the market longevity of the product. This is based on the choice of the formula and at least as much on the selection of ingredients.

Do you want to stand out among your consumers and highlight the quality of your range of plant-based products? BOTANI BRANDS is your trusted partner to assist you in launching Botani+ validated products, synonymous with quality, safety, and effectiveness. By combining the skills of our various experts, we are ready to efficiently and effectively orchestrate the development of your plant-based health product. Whether your brief is finalised or still in the consolidation phase, we are here to build on your project and deliver a turnkey solution.

Contact us to discuss your project


  1. GERS data 2023
  2. Galenic innovation: the importance of combining effectiveness and pleasure in food supplements – BOTANI BRANDS Article (
  3. 2022 Barometer of Dietary Supplement Consumption in France (
  4. Challenges and Opportunities of Dietary Supplements by Harris Interactive Toluna for NFBD 2019 (
  5. Statistics corresponding to the question: “On a scale of 1 to 10, are you satisfied with having taken/taking food supplements?”
  6. Headlines about Dietary Supplements
  7. BAPP – Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program – Case of Elderberry Adulteration (
  8. Report of the National Academy of Pharmacy “Dietary Supplements Containing Plants” (
  9. Botanicert – Case of Plant-based Ingredient Falsification – Internal Statistics 2020-2021 (
  10. Herbalife – Certification by Independent Laboratory (
  11. Botani+ First Quality Brand for Plant-based Products (
  12. VIT’ALL+ validated by Botani+ (
  13. Nonna Lab validated by Botani+ (

Acacia Gum and Gummies: The Story of a Beautiful Encounter

100% plant-based, rich in fibre, low in calories, flavour-enhancing with a significant environmental and societal impact: acacia gum possesses all the necessary qualities to captivate gummies, the playful form of supplements currently booming in the food supplement market.

Acacia, a Gum with Nutritional Fibre!

Acacia gum, also known as gum arabic, is a resinous exudate extracted from the Acacia senegal (L.) Willd tree. Sudan and other sub-Saharan African countries such as Chad, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania are the main producers of these solidified sap fragments 1.

Once harvested and dried, these precious amber aggregates are either crushed or transformed into a versatile powder by industrial stakeholders, with two of the major players being French companies: Alland & Robert and Nexira. Together, they represent over half of the global market for gum arabic 2.

BOTANI BRANDS: The Architect of Your Natural Solutions for the Development of Gummies and 2.0 Lozenges with acacia gum.

This texturising agent, also labelled as E414, is highly sought after by the food industry due to its emulsifying capacity, stabilising properties, and ability to capture flavours, making it an essential ingredient in beverages and sweets.

Beyond its technical properties, acacia gum is also valued for its high fibre content (ranging from 91% to 97%) and beneficial nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Since December 2021, the FDA has authorised the qualification of acacia gum as a “dietary fibre.” 3

This means that its beneficial effects on human health are officially recognised, including the reduction of postprandial glycemia, improvement of digestive comfort, and its role as a source of prebiotic fibres 4.

Acacia gum also has the notable advantage of not contributing to tooth decay. As a non-fermentable carbohydrate, it does not feed the mouth bacteria responsible for acidifying dental plaque 5.

Gum Arabic: Ecological and Sustainable Production

Before becoming an indispensable ingredient for Western industries, acacia gum primarily serves as a source of income for entire villages in the Sahel region.

Generations of men and women have learned how to cultivate gum-yielding trees (in the wild, only one in 10,000 acacia species naturally produces resin). They also know the purely manual methods for tapping the trees to extract their valuable sap, as well as cleaning and drying techniques that ensure the production of high-quality gum.

The production of gum arabic also protects the soil from erosion thanks to the tree’s root system, which slows down desertification. These “gum trees” store CO2 and contribute to soil fertilisation by providing significant amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and proteins. Senegalese acacia plantations also help maintain high biodiversity along the edge of the Sahara.

Major industrial stakeholders involved in the transformation of this resin must ensure that producers are adequately compensated for the difficulty of their work and their expertise. The two main stakeholders, Nexira and Alland & Robert, are committed to sustainable development practices that aim to protect this resource, improve producers’ income, and contribute to the development of this supply chain 6,7.

The BOTANI BRANDS team guides and supports you in formulating acacia gum-based nutritional gummies.

Emiga, a company specialized in sourcing this matter8, has also distinguished itself with the creation of the “Niger Acacia Senegal Plantation Project.” 9

Initiated in 2005 by Thierry Dulon and his associate Boureima Wankoye This project was originally part of the Kyoto Protocol’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Its objective was to restore deforested and degraded lands in Niger by empowering rural communities to adopt sustainable agroforestry through the cultivation of indigenous species, specifically Acacia senegalensis.

Thierry Dulon explains, “Thirty-three village communities have received carbon credits, and the income generated by cultivating acacia has enabled them to invest in healthcare, education, and the construction of seed farms.

Acacia gum is not just a plant-based gelling agent. Its added value lies in the nutritional and sensory properties it offers to consumers of food supplements. It provides the rapidly growing gummy market with an innovative, healthy, and sustainable alternative to the more traditional fruit pectins.

When Gummies and Acacia Gum Make a Perfect Pair

In search of the ideal texturising agent capable of combining taste pleasure, technological properties, and nutritional benefits, gummy manufacturers see the potential of incorporating this plant resin directly from Africa.

These food supplements, resembling candies, are primarily composed of fruit pectin extracted from food industry by-products. Based on its dual technical and nutritional role, acacia gum possesses all the advantages to diversify this market segment and enhance the “health” aspect of gummies, which is sometimes overshadowed by sugar and taste.

Thanks to its emulsifying properties, acacia gum stabilises flavours and essential oils, providing an optimised sensory experience for the consumer 10. Its texture enables forming a protective film in the mouth and throat mucosa, with the prolonged release of  active ingredients.

The brand “Pâte suisse” from Lehning Laboratories has successfully highlighted the health positioning of acacia gum by featuring it in a complete product range of nine “sugar-free Swiss pastilles.” These gummies are formulated with polyols (sorbitol and maltitol syrup), low-calorie sweeteners 11.

Lehning’s communication states, “Made from 100% natural acacia gum, Swiss pastilles fulfill all daily needs, including soothing sore throats, relieving coughs, improving sleep, and addressing vitamin deficiencies.

The Mémé brand highlights the prebiotic properties of acacia gum as its star ingredient 12.

Mé-Mé’s communication  states, “Rich in fibre, acacia sap aids digestion and is recognised as a natural prebiotic and excellent anti-inflammatory. Mé-Mé gummies are highly recommended after meals or coffee.

BOTANI BRANDS: The Architect of Your Natural Solutions for the Development of Gummies and 2.0 Lozenges. The BOTANI BRANDS team guides and supports you in formulating acacia gum-based nutritional gummies that will attract users seeking effectiveness, sensory pleasure, and responsible consumption.


Sources :

  1. Dr. Aafi Abderrahman’s gum arabic
  2. Source UNCTAD: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
  3. Acacia gum granted by FDA as dietary fiber
  4. Journal Food and Nutrition Sciences, Vol 13 No.4 (2022) : « Bongartz, U., Erlenbeck, C. and Wohlfahrt, I. (2022) The Effect of Gum Acacia on Post-Prandial Glucose and Insulin Levels in Healthy Subjects. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 13, 424-438. .
  5. Arch Oral Biol 2008 Mar;53(3):257-60. T Onishi 1, S Umemura, M Yanagawa, M Matsumura, Y Sasaki, T Ogasawara, T Ooshima : « Remineralization effects of gum arabic on caries-like enamel lesions »
  6. Nexira commitments
  7. Alland & Robert commitments
  10. Gum arabic and essential oil
  11. Pâtes suisses de Lehning
  12. Gummies Mémé à la gomme d’acacia

Soft chews: a new wave from the USA

The United States is the world’s leading consumer of vitamins and food supplements with a market posting over 50 billion dollars in the nutraceutical sector.1 Like gummies, many innovations are born across the Atlantic to then conquer European pharmacies. History seems to be repeating itself with the appearance of a new galenic in this health niche: soft chews, the newer version of gummies. This latest generation of chewing gum is conquering more and more brands, seduced by their sensory qualities and their high content of active ingredients.

Soft chews: an innovation in food supplements

These “tender bites” initially intended for the confectionery sector have finally established themselves as an innovative and fun galenic for food supplements. Like gummies, soft chews offer a pleasant healthy format enabling enhanced consumer sensation.

They come in the form of small 4-to-5-gram squares with generally a recommended daily intake of one or even two units.

While allowing the use of active ingredients such as vitamins, minerals or plant extracts, this galenic is also particularly interesting for its organoleptic aspect: taste, smell and texture (finally!) become essential parameters in nutraceuticals.

More attractive and pleasant than typically pharmaceutical formats such as capsules or tablets, soft chews call for better consumer compliance with treatments.

Self care applications

In parallel with gummies, soft chews therefore embody a new trend in naturalin natural health products self-medication.

The American site iHerb, one of the most important platforms for online natural products sales, already has more than 1000 references.2

Dulcolax notably launched Dulcolax Soft chews composed of magnesium hydroxide (quantity of 1200mg per chew) intended to improve occasional constipation in Canada.3

The brand emphasizes mechanical and rapid effectiveness (“relief in 30 minutes”) of the natural health product on constipation and does not fail to highlight the nomadic and gustatory aspect of this solution: “With Dulcolax® Soft Chews, adults and kids (12+) have a tasty and convenient new way to get things moving.”

Moreover, the chewing induced by this form of chewing gum, is a major interest for formulations such as these, intended to accompany digestive disorders.

Science has long been interested in the impact of proper chewing on digestion, helping to reduce gastric reflux, bloating, flatulence, and stomach aches.4,5,6

So, why not offer pregnant women to chew soft chews to help them reduce potential pregnancy nausea? The Mega Food brand has thought of this with its Baby & Me 2 sachet of 30 naturally lemon-flavoured formulated soft chews made with ginger and organic honey.7

They are available and also respond to all the indications commonly found in nutraceuticals: immunity, energy, sleep, relaxation, hair, skin, memory and digestion…

The Dutch brand Celebrate has chosen to bet on this differentiating galenic with a range of single ingredient (iron or calcium) or multivitamin soft chews.8

Actives ingredients and sensory qualities of soft chews

In addition to their taste input, soft chews enable incorporating a large quantity of active ingredients. Dulcolax chews are a good example with 1200mg of magnesium oxide per unit.

While standard size gummies contain an average of 70 to 80 mg of active ingredients, they do not face the same capacity limitations as former versions.

The number of intakes per day is therefore reduced, thus facilitating the following of the treatment by the consumer.

From a technical point of view, this galenic allows formulators to consider numerous combinations and synergies of active ingredients without space constraints.

Developed without gelatin, soft chews are ready to be certified vegan friendly and contribute in this sense to a reasoned, healthy, and natural diet that is increasingly popular with consumers.

In addition to their functional benefits for the body, soft chews have many advantages in terms of their texture, taste, and appearance.

In addition to other classic galenic forms, these “soft pastes” are popular in terms of dosage and taste pleasure.

It is a safe bet that this galenic offers broad prospects for development in Europe in the wake of its American boom.

In order to position you at the heart of this new trend, Botani Brands supports you in designing your soft chews thanks to its relevant and effective approach to the formulation of natural ingredients.


Sources :

  5. Esther H-J Kim et al. Chewing differences in consumers affect the digestion and colonic fermentation outcomes: in vitro studies. Food & Function journal. 2022 Sep 22;13(18):9355-9371.
  6. Mercier P., & Poitras, P.. Gastrointestinal symptoms and masticatory dysfunction. Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology, 7(1), 61-65. (1992)

Our references

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