June 5, 2012
It's a tough competitive world out there. And if a company wants to survive, it needs to buy well, produce efficiently and get products out the door fast. Suppliers and manufacturers have to work closely across all levels of the company to do just thatget the goods out the door fast. That may mean working with a premix partner is one of the soundest decisions a company can make.
In the wide world of raw material suppliers, it is now most important to avoid approaching ingredients as a commodity. From the suppliers' perspective, only selling single-entity products leaves the door open to be undercut by the next person through the door. Price is always a key component, but to quote an old Vermont proverb: "The sweet smell of saving a few pennies is soon outweighed by the odor of a problem."
The concept of premixes for proprietary formulations reflects the good-old American concept of working with the customer rather than selling single ingredients off the shelf. Namely, making a proprietary product that fits the customer's need, which positions a firm as more of a partner versus just a supplier. The ability to deliver customized premixes encompasses more than just providing a mix of ingredients; it is also providing technical and marketing support. This is applicable for not only premixes to the food industry, but also for formulations supplied as granulations for tablets and capsules.
Premixes are niche product lines that have been promoted since the 1970s, notably in the U.S. food market. It has been proven successful and has gradually been introduced into the supplement industry; these are formulations that contain multiple ingredients that can save the customer money and time.
Here's how: a customer that is creating a multiple-ingredient supplement can either buy each ingredient singly or combine all these ingredients into one purchase order with a premix. If the cost of writing each purchase orderwith all its ancillary chores of multiple follow-ups with suppliers to ensure deliveryis $50, a 70-ingredient formulation could cost $3,500. By ordering all ingredients via premix, the purchasing agent needs only to write one purchase order for a possible savings of $3,450.
Additional savings are found in quality control. A premix comes with all ingredients on a single certificate of analysis (CofA) versus combing through 70 separate CofAs if individual items are ordered separately.
Additional savings may also apply for the production team. When ordering individual ingredients, purchasing often must buy full-drum quantities, rather than the specific amount a product requires. This extra material, with its additional cost, may sit around until the next production requirement or, in a worst-case scenario, may have to be disposed of as it ages past its expiration date.
Premixes, on the other hand, supply the exact quantities required for production with no tailings of excess material, which saves costs. Accountants may also like the premix concept since material comes in the door and go quickly to production with little or no inventory hold costs.
And what happens if one of those 70 ingredients fails to arrive on time? Production is disrupted. With a premix, all ingredients are included and arrive at the same time.
Perhaps the most important thing to consider is selecting a premix supplier. With so many quality options, why opt for a supplier that drops the premix at the door and walks away? Many premix partners have a technical team that can work with a company's in-house team to formulate the correct premix, using the proper ingredients and overages that will withstand the time/temperature/pH constraints of the selected manufacturing process. And it should go without saying that any premix partner should have the analytical ability to ensure the finished product maintains its label claim for the shelf life of the product.
In shortchoose your premix partner well, thus ensuring both good savings as well as a good night's sleep.
Tim Bray, vice president of Pharmachem Laboratories Inc ., Kearny, NJ, has been selling the concept of premixes for 40 years in both the food and dietary supplement industry. He can be reached at [email protected] .
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