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The Hidden Costs of Cheap Empty Capsules

Posted by CapsCanada on 20-Nov-2023 11:32:20 AM

If you’ve received pricing from multiple manufacturers for two-piece hard capsules, you know that there can be significant price differences from one brand to the next. With margins being squeezed across the industry, it can be tempting to simply go with the lowest bid. After all, a capsule is a capsule, right?

Wrong. All capsules are definitely not created equal. Quality matters. In fact, capsule quality makes such a difference during the filling process that those “inexpensive” capsules can quickly become very, very expensive. 

Low-cost capsules result in low yield

When you buy high-quality capsules, such as CapsCanada’s G-CAPS® gelatin capsules or K-CAPS® HPMC capsules, you get capsules that have excellent runnability on high-speed filling machines. Simply put, high-quality capsules minimize waste and maximize yield. 

When you buy low-quality capsules, often coming in from overseas in bulk, non-temperature- controlled containers, you are more likely to face problems during the production process that will negatively impact your yield, such as:

Imprecise capsule-to-tooling fit – Capsules that do not seat correctly in the tooling are prone to bad joining, creating critical defects such as splits and tucks.

Weak capsule shell construction –  To save material, some capsule manufacturers will use the bare minimum amount of material to make the capsules. When evaluating capsules, be aware that the weight of the empty capsules can be an indicator for capsule wall strength.  Thinner walls will result in more denting, pin-holes, and split and tuck defects. 

• Poor separation properties – Low-cost manufacturers may run their hard capsule manufacturing machines at rates which exceed the process capabilities for creating consistent product. They speed up the critical drying step of the process, which creates variation in the finished product. The final result is capsules that do not separate smoothly, thereby creating product waste, dirty machinery and extra down time, not to mention long and frustrating days for your encapsulation operators. 

Poor closing properties – There’s nothing like shipping out finished product that either comes open or leaks before reaching the consumer. If you have a one percent defect rate, every customer who opens a 100-count bottle will receive a defective capsule.  


capsules in stock and ready to ship


How will low yield impact your profitability?


When analyzing the true cost of “inexpensive” capsules, you must consider all of the following factors. If you leave any of these factors out of the analysis you will not be looking at the true total cost of goods for your finished product:

• Cost of capsules, per thousand capsules.

• Total cost of blended fill material, per thousand capsules.

• Machine operator labor cost, including taxes and benefits.
• Cost of waste, including capsule and fill material costs, as well as the labor costs associated with troubleshooting, inspections, rework, machine down time, and the need to run the machinery at slower speeds.

• Cost of returns and reputational damage, if quality problems are not caught before the product is shipped.

Run the numbers. If one capsule results in 3% waste of capsules and fill material and the other only has 0.03% waste, how will that affect your profitability? What if the cheap capsules result in 5% waste? When looked at in this way, which capsule will result in a higher profit margin? 

In most scenarios the higher-quality capsule will actually save you money by reducing waste, downtime and problems.




Controlling each of the critical variables is what breeds success in encapsulation. This begins with high-quality empty capsules, and includes the filling machine condition, operator training and fill material. When you invest a little more for higher-quality capsules, you set your operations team up for success. Plus, when you work with a high-quality capsule supplier, their technical services team can help you optimize your entire capsule filling operation, from machine setup to operator training. 


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