June 6, 2011
The dietary supplement market is competitive for all parts of the industry. For brand owners and retailers, it is important to get the finished product to market quickly and at the lowest cost possible. For manufacturers, it is a balance between quality, speed and pricing.
The last few years have brought a number of changes to the manufacturing side, primary among them the introduction of federally mandated cGMPs (current good manufacturing practices). With the introduction of cGMPs, the manufacturing process for most manufacturers has changed drastically. There is more testing, more paperwork and more oversight, all of which are welcome changes for responsible industry.
Brand owners and retailers have many options when it comes to outsourcing production; however, there are many advantages to working with a contract manufacturer that does many of the processes in-house. Having each aspect of the manufacturing process in house can cut down on lead times and cost; but, the most significant advantage is consolidation of vendors. While many manufacturers claim to offer turn-key capabilities, often they do not make the grade. As with any significant decision, it is important to conduct appropriate research before making a decision. There is much more to the process than just price and how quickly product can be shipped out the door. There are a number of things to consider when looking for a quality turn-key manufacturer.
The initial step is to determine whether the manufacturer can produce the desired product. Most manufacturers focus on particular areas of the market, such as tablets, capsules, powders or liquids. If the manufacturer has the production capacity, look at the auxiliary capabilities. There are many questions to dig in to: Is there an in-house lab for testing? Are R&D services available? In-house label design and printing? How about multiple packaging capabilities and forms such as bottling, pouching, stick packs or packets?
Next, visit the manufacturing facility. This is a critical step in the process, which many brand owners forgo. Schedule a tour of the facility to make sure everything is legitimate. It is easy to develop an impressive website or marketing piece; but, the look, feel and general culture of the actual facility is a true indicator. Make sure the facility is in good working condition, well laid out, clean, conducive to producing the required products and built to meet cGMPs. Talk to the staff, not just the tour guide, to get a sense of their level of knowledge and expertise. Pay attention to the manufacturing employees to see if they seem to enjoy their work. Manufacturers with an unhappy workforce tend to have more turnover and are more likely to encounter related production problems. Finally, meet with the management team. There should be a level of comfort with all facets of the company from the sales team through the production team and management. A good comfort level with all facets of the company will go a long way in guaranteeing a profitable, long-term partnership.
Bob Dunn is the director of sales for Arizona Nutritional Supplements , based in Chandler, AZ.
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