The brand value of a supplement brand depends on product quality, product efficiency, the origin of ingredients, transparency, and trust. Here are some ways to vet your supplement manufacturer.
There are many quantitative and qualitative factors to consider while choosing a supplement manufacturer. You can create a strong brand by understanding the customers’ demands and finding the right supplier to deliver those demands. Once you establish a robust supply chain, you can confidently market your products and list them on various e-commerce platforms without worrying about compliance or safety risks.
Choosing a transparent, price-friendly, scalable, experienced, and technologically sound manufacturer can make a lot of difference. Here are 5 things to look out for in a supplement manufacturer.
Inquire about Production Capacity
The production capacity of your supplement supplier can impact your business, and you need to be aware of your supplier’s speed, flexibility, and accountability. Make sure to analyze the metrics like minimum order quantity MOQ, product costs ($/unit or serving), packaging quality, design and graphics capabilities, diversity in SKUs, bulk discounts, supply capabilities during peak inventory cycles, and customization options while browsing for the right manufacturer.
You may also want to inquire about the company’s ability to deliver supplements in different forms like tablets, capsules, liquid, lotions, powder, tinctures, and balms. Location is also an important operational factor when choosing a suitable manufacturer. However, it may be wise to pay extra freight charges for better quality products from a stronger supplier. The trade-off between low price and long-term business stability can be a key differentiator in your overall success.
Accountability is a big issue in the supplements manufacturing industry. Big brands often provide logistics insurance, stock insurance, delivery guarantees, and quality assurances. These suppliers may charge a premium, but you can quickly scale up with such manufacturers in your procurement portfolio. Small manufacturers can be great for niche products, but it is advisable to diversify your supplement suppliers to include established brands and specialty manufacturing companies to expand your SKUs. Make sure to lock in prices with your manufacturer while finalizing a supplements deal.
Look for Relevant Certifications
Certifications are the holy grails of building brand value in the nutrition industry. The supplement industry is not sufficiently regulated, and trusted manufacturers are often vetted by private certification companies. You may need additional certificates to sell on reputed platforms like Amazon and Walmart. If you want a specific certification for bulk orders, you can consult with the supplier to get certified with your preferred certifications.
Mandatory certifications include Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP), Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) for Human Food, Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certification, and various state-specific certifications. Certifications like NSF International, US Pharmacopeia, Underwriters Laboratory, or Consumer Lab are popular among consumers. You can also look for complimentary certifications that categorize food items as Non-GMO, Organic, Vegan, and Gluten-free.
If you are procuring supplements for export, study the local laws and consult with the manufacturer on compliance. Similarly, if you are importing supplements, ensure your manufacturer understands the US compliance standards.
Conduct Private Tests on Manufacturer Claims
Certifications are not always the final seal of authority on ingredient authenticity and purity. You may need to conduct private testing on random batches from your supplier. You may ask for samples before placing a bulk order. You can check for bioactivity, adulterants, heavy-metal contaminations, allergens, and product potency. These private tests can help you legally separate your liability from any adverse event.
You can get supplements tested for free from non-profit organizations like the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USPC), and NSF Certified for Sport and Natural Products Association. Private labs like BSCG, Informed Choice, and ConsumerLab can conduct advanced tests on your products. Private tests allow you to probe deeper into manufacturer claims and can be a great way to test a new manufacturer.
Distribution, Packaging, and Logistics Services
If you want to personalize your products and create a strong nutrition brand, you may need to develop unique formulations and personalize packaging at some point. Product designing and packaging can be a great way to differentiate your brand in the supplement market. Make sure the supplier understands your brand values and customer expectations. You can also bring your own design team or source your packaging from a different company.
Distribution and logistics are the last legs of your product journey. Some suppliers provide drop shipping services that deliver your products directly to your customer’s doorsteps from the manufacturing facility. You can deliver your products faster and save money on logistics. Integrating your distribution channel with the manufacturer may create a distance between you and your products. You can conduct monthly visits to the manufacturing facility to understand the manufacturing process and fulfillment chain.
Ask for the Source of Ingredients
Consumer awareness of the source of food is increasing, and most people trust their supplement brands to check the source of ingredients. Whether it is the country of origin, environmental sustainability, or free from animal cruelty, the origin of ingredients can make or break a brand.
Private label manufacturers may conceal their source of ingredients and quote a lower price. As a supplement retailer, you are responsible for authenticating the ingredients’ source by asking for necessary paperwork from the manufacturer. Many private label manufacturers supplements use trusted ingredient suppliers associations like the Direct Selling Association, Organic Trade Association, and Soil Association to avoid contamination or adulteration.
The supplement industry is extremely fluid. Modern manufacturers do more than just manufacturing. They can help you develop custom formulations, run pilot campaigns for new supplements with as low as 1000 units MOQ, conduct supplementary R&D for your brand, provide compliance support, and help streamline your product distribution. It is wise to diversify your supply chain and keep your expectations high while looking for supplement manufacturers.
Each supplement manufacturer is unique. The search for the right supplier is a constant pursuit of product perfection. Successful nutrition brands work with multiple suppliers to expand their SKUs. You must understand your manufacturer’s capabilities and shortcomings as a retail brand. Look for suppliers that understand your brand values and deliver transparent products.