20 June 2018 / The experts of the Vitagora ecosystem / Vitagora publication / Science and technologies

Microencapsulation: an effective solution for protecting active ingredients

 This article is also available in French


Fatty acids, flavourings, essential oils and even nutrients are active ingredients that can be sensitive to light, temperature, oxygen or pH. Ingredients of varying stability must be protected until their action is required. For example, for optimal absorption of a nutrient, it must arrive intact in the intestine after being subjected to the stomach’s acidity. Technical problems such as texture, stability, mixture or soluble properties arise when an active agent or ingredient is added to a matrix in small quantities.


Why this should interest you

  • A fragile ingredient, a sensitive nutrient, a compound that is insoluble in water or an active ingredient with an unpleasant taste can alter the physical or organoleptic properties of a food product or its effectiveness.
  • Microencapsulation provides innovative solutions for many food industry issues, particularly products for health and nutrition.
  • The process can use natural materials for environmentally friendly and responsible solutions.
  • Microencapsulation is a fully adjustable process: type and size, release conditions, membrane composition, contents, etc.


Microencapsulation is a technological process that addresses these issues. The technology coats a solid, liquid, even gas molecule, and releases it when and where required.


Microcapsules are small particles that are sometimes hollow (called microcapsules) or solid (called microspheres). These particles have a membrane that isolates and protects the contents from the external environment. When the membrane is broken, by chemical, thermal or mechanical action, the contents of the microcapsule are released.


This process has been used for years in the health, cosmetic and textile fields. What solutions can microencapsulation provide for the food industry? How can this technology be used for innovation? The food industry can use microencapsulation for masking taste, controlling aroma release or formulating liquid in powder form. The farming sector is also now using microencapsulation.


Hervé Huilier, founder and manager of Creathes, tells us more about microencapsulation solutions in the food industry... from farm to fork.


Hervé Huillier 

Founder & CEO of Creathes


Hervé Huilier presented his PhD thesis at Université de Franche Comté (Besançon) in physics-chemistry for microencapsulation and thermal comfort. After working in the textile and cosmetic industry, Hervé Huilier created Creathes in 2008 in Belfort, specialising in research and development of solutions using microencapsulation.




Creathes specialises in the development of solutions using microencapsulation. This technology enables the development of new products or processes previously impossible or complicated to design. Creathes uses already proven, mature encapsulation technologies, in some cases from outside partners, and in others, developed by the company. The aim is to provide customers and partners with these technologies for product development.


Approved & widely used technology

This process has been used in the food industry for many years. For example, for the release of chewing-gum flavour. "The flavour of gum is released when you chew. When you suck on gum, there is not much taste. Chewing releases the explosion of flavour in the mouth," explains Hervé Huilier to demonstrate one of the uses of microencapsulation. "Liquid products can also be created in powder form to facilitate mixing and formulation.”


The scope of action is vast and extends even to our health. "In pharmaceuticals, this technology is used to control the release of active ingredients to increase their absorption and efficiency,” he explains. 


Solutions available for a changing market

The food market is increasingly turning to enrichment and supplements. "Products enriched with EPA or DHA, for example, create stability and oxidation problems. Microencapsulation provides solutions that increase the stability of these highly nutritional but sensitive ingredients," Hervé says. EPA and DHA are two fatty acids called omega 3, essential for the human body and beneficial for the cardiovascular system, among others. The French population does not consume recommended intakes, so it can be useful to supplement the diet with these compounds.


The REMUS project

Food innovation for diets adapted to the elderly

The goal of this R&D project, accredited by Vitagora, is to meet nutritional needs of the elderly so they can remain independant. This includes reducing elderly undernutrition, sarcopenia, and the risk of falls through targeted nutrition and activities tailored to their daily lives. CEN group, Dijon university hospital, Lactalis, CSGA joint research unit, CRNH Auvergne, SEB and Welience are working together on the project. Creathes participated in the project to address a particular problem: protein enrichment of dairy desserts to combat sarcopenia and pathological muscle loss due to aging. The results of this project will be available by June 2019.



Sustainable solutions

Hervé Huilier emphasises that farming can also benefit from microencapsulation technology. Thanks to Creathes’s expertise, designing biocontrol and biofertilisation products is possible. Creathes uses microencapsulation technology with natural materials adapted for use on plants. "For example, we are working on solutions to combat vine mildew or cabbage-root fly by microencapsulating essential oils that are deposited on leaves. The encapsulation coating is made with plant-based waxes which are our main materials," explains Hervé Huilier.


A developing company

Widening their scope of action

“Previously Creathes only developed solutions using microencapsulation, but today we are starting to produce batched ingredients,” he says, referring to a move to new premises to make the required products.

Microencapsulation’s applications are many and varied, but nutrition seems to be of particularly interest to Hervé Huilier. For example, "diet enrichment in Omega 3 and 6 using stabilising oils with no olfactory deterioration while preserving nutritional properties and  improving the absorption of certain nutrients”.


Microencapsulation, technology, process, food, farming, R&D, solution, health




Go further...

For more information about Creathes or to contact Hervé Huilier and his team, contact Elodie Da Silva: elodie.dasilva@vitagora.com


A food engineer from the French city of Toulouse, Elodie leads the "Innovation & Ecosystem" team of Vitagora in providing support for agrifood business innovation goals, with enthusiasm, professionalism and confidentiality.


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