The question is not “Why are you engaging a contract manufacturer?” but “Why aren’t you?” With world-class plants, many outfits also boast their own range of proprietary technologies and processing methods, versatile pre-mixes and semi-finished formulas. We spoke with a group of natural products industry experts about what to consider when thinking about going with a contract manufacturer.
Here is a continuation of the article from the print edition.
• John Altenberg, Vice President of Sales and Client Services, Vit-Best Nutrition, Tustin, CA
• Emek Blair, PhD, Founder, Valimenta Labs, Fort Collins, CO
• Kenny Flores, Vice President of Sales, Reliance Private Label Supplements, Edison, NJ
• Sally Gagan, Vice President, Beehive Botanicals, Hayward, WI
• Dan Lifton, CEO, Quality of Life Labs, Purchase, NY
• Jan Thoele, Executive Vice President, SternMaid America, Aurora, IL
NIE: In terms of certifications, there are a variety of seals, standards and certifications out there. What is most important for finished product manufacturers to ask to ensure that the accreditations are meaningful and applicable to a broad range of ingredients, products and processes, not just one specific area?
Thoele: It is vital that contract manufacturers have a third-party certified quality management system in place—whether this is just standard or on a higher level depends on the product, market and individual requirements. GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) provides a guideline for comparing and benchmarking different standards.
Blair: I think that certifications are important and [Valimenta] was one of the first, if not the first, to receive third-party certification for liposome manufacturing. However, a company’s quality is really dependent on their daily operation and ability to ensure quality.
Altenberg: Having the badges or banners from third party companies is a nice marketing tool, but just that. If you cannot self-police your own quality standards—it will be exposed in the long run.”
Gagan: Many seals are meaningless. I would ask to see the certification behind the symbol.
NIE: At the end of the day, what needs to be remembered by the industry at large? What is most often misunderstood about contract manufacturing by potential customers or by the industry at large?
Thoele: When there is a lack of communication and transparency between both parties during the planning process, the customer’s expectations and the actual outcome may not coincide. Therefore, transparency is crucial. In fact, it’s the key to a successful business partnership.
Another important aspect in all cases is farsighted planning on the part of the contract manufacturer, because customers expect flexibility and reliable, on-time delivery. Even short deadlines have to be met at the right time and with top quality. If a company’s plant breaks down unexpectedly and a contract manufacturer is asked to take over, production must be able to start very quickly.
Flores: That everything included in the manufacturing process is within their control. Many times there are events which take place that cannot be anticipated by the contract manufacturers such as the availability of raw materials and componentry to complete projects and meet the deadlines established by their customers.