HPMC & Pullulan Capsules, What are the Differences?

HPMC or Pullulan Capsules

In the realm of vitamins and supplements, meeting the evolving demands of today’s health-conscious consumers often involves opting for vegetarian capsules over traditional gelatin ones. While hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) capsules are the more common choice among vegetarian options, an alternative exists in the form of pullulan capsules.

Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of both, including guidance on when to favor one over the other.

HPMC Capsules

HPMC capsules consist of two-part hard capsules crafted from hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, a cellulose-based substance derived from natural fibers. These capsules can earn vegetarian certifications, such as the esteemed Vegan Registration from the Vegan Society. However, it’s worth noting that the chemical process used to produce HPMC capsules means they aren’t organic.

Pullulan Capsules

Pullulan capsules are two-part hard capsules. Constructed from Pullulan which is a viscous polysaccharide polymer that can be naturally fermented from tapioca in the context of capsule manufacturing. These capsules can also obtain vegetarian and organic certifications.

Shared Benefits of HPMC and Pullulan Capsules

Both HPMC and pullulan capsules offer numerous advantages, including:

  • Support for a healthy lifestyle: These capsules are favored by health-conscious consumers as they are vegetarian, GMO-free, gluten-free, starch-free, and preservative-free. They can also receive Kosher and Halal certifications.
  • Safety and chemical stability: HPMC and pullulan are Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) materials, chemically inert, and highly stable, ensuring no chemical reactions or cross-linking with capsule contents.
  • Quick dissolution: Similar to gelatin capsules, both HPMC and pullulan capsules can disintegrate in under 15 minutes.
  • Compatibility with various fill types: These capsules can accommodate powders, granules, beads, tablets, or combinations of filling materials.
  • Masking unpleasant tastes and odors: Both types excel at concealing the unpalatable flavors and smells of most formulations.
  • Compatibility with various filling machines: HPMC and pullulan capsules are suitable for manual, semi-automatic, and high-speed capsule filling equipment.

Choosing Between HPMC and Pullulan Capsules

While either type can often serve well, specific considerations include:

  • Using HPMC for moisture-sensitive formulations due to its lower moisture content.
  • Choosing HPMC for liquid fills since Pullulan is water-soluble.
  • Opting for Pullulan when safeguarding oxygen-sensitive ingredients like Vitamin C from oxidation is crucial.

Other Distinctions

Additional factors to weigh when deciding between HPMC and pullulan capsules include:

  • Storage and handling conditions, as HPMC capsules are more resilient in harsher environments.
  • Color options, as HPMC capsules are available in a wide range of colors, allowing for product branding and concealing unattractive fill materials.
  • Cost, with HPMC capsules being notably more affordable than Pullulan capsules. Both options, however, are pricier than gelatin capsules.

For your empty capsule needs, reach out to FOREFRONT Nutraceuticals. Our European-ready stock ensures you’ll avoid production delays. Contact our team at info@forefront-nutraceuticals.com for more information.


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