Growth is healthy, notably in an industry that is seeing more and more consumers enter through trial and become loyal. The dietary supplement industry is, and has been for quite a long time, one of those continual growth industries with no signs of abatement.
Discovery, research and development plus increased media exposure (mass and social) are placing good pressure upon an assortment of supplier and manufacturing facilities to ensure ability to fulfill demand.
Juan Jose Albarran, managing director, Chile botanics division for New Jersey-based Naturex explained that today, consumers are aware that chemical ingredients are not as safe as once perceived; they are instead seeking natural ingredients to use instead. Concepts such as clean labeling or strict natural certifications (such as Ecocert and USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] organic) have become a sustainable and growing trend. “The market is experiencing rapid growth and Naturex, as the global leader in specialty plant based natural ingredients, has taken on a key position in delivering complete solution,” he said.
At New Jersey-based Pharmachem Laboratories Inc., Lynn B. Dahle, vice president and general manager observed a “large push” from customers who want full turnkey solutions under one roof. “With the proper adherence to cGMP (good manufacturing practice) regulations, timeframes are being elongated and every product transfer from one facility to another only adds to the lead time for a finished good. A turnkey solution negates such transfers, providing for more expedient delivery,” he described.
Dahle noted that industry is also looking for value-added ingredients and blends, such as tablet-ready blends, free-flowing agglomerates, and instantized drink mixes. “By partnering with the correct suppliers who can produce these, it lessens the burdens that many manufacturers face in their R&D, production, and ultimately customer satisfaction,” he remarked.
Dr. Greg Leyer, chief scientific officer with Wisconsin-based UAS Labs, which recently expanded its facility, pointed to the phenomenal popularity of probiotics by consumers, and many brand marketers are scrambling to create innovative and tasty products containing a wide variety of strains. “Probiotics have been a growth driver in the dietary supplement industry and are expected to enjoy double digit sales increases through 2020,” he reported.
UAS Labs recently completed a $6 million expansion and upgrade of its manufacturing capabilities as well as its quality control and research and development laboratories. The facility, which is organic- and NSF-certified, has been designed to maximize cell viability at every step in the process with sophisticated temperature and humidity controls.
Meanwhile, Naturex made what Albarran described as a “significant investment” in order to increase its production capacities for quillaia extracts in Chile. The company has multiplied eight-fold its annual production of this ingredient, becoming one of the largest manufacturers worldwide. At the same time, he added, Naturex was able to upgrade the infrastructure to meet global food safety certifications, guaranteeing compliance with its customers’ requirements.
To meet the needs of our current and future customers, Pharmachem Laboratories has invested recently in both quality and equipment, Dahle said. Since this Utah-located facility was acquired by Pharmachem two years ago, “our quality department has more than doubled in size. We have allowed our quality team to have the freedom and resources they need to ensure all the cGMPs are followed and have put in place a continuous improvement plan to help maintain the direction and focus that so often gets lost without one.”
Further, he reported that, equipment-wise, the company has doubled its fluid bed granulation and drying capacity in the last two years and also has added a powder fill line for canisters. “Further, we will have, at the start of the last quarter 2015, a high-speed stick pouching line. All of this has been added to the brand new facility we built a little over two years ago,” he noted.
At Ingredients by Nature in California, CEO Robert Brewster reported some sizable new additions:
• New 50HP micronizer, capacity 400-1000kg/hour, particle size 80-2500 mesh; this will increase IBN milling and micronizing capacity to 5-15 MT per day;
• 20HP Crusher, new added tea cut capacity 4-10 per day;
• 2 of 10’x10′ drying chamber, which will provide newly added drying capacity 4-6MT per day. The installation of such drying chambers will largely increase IBN’s wet granulation capacity to 3-5MT per day;
• 90CBF steam sterilization chamber, this will provide new sterilization capacity for high value, small scale and sensitive materials, to fix the gap of IBN’s current large scale steam treatment system.
Last year, IBN, the leading toll-services supplier, doubled the size and capacity of its facility, from 30,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet.
Rest assured, the investment of millions of dollars for the upgrades and expansions is never an off-the-cuff decision. For each, there were specific motivators.
For UAS Labs, it is the very nature of probiotics that necessitated the upgrades. “Probiotics are unique microorganisms that cannot be treated like other nutraceuticals,” said Leyer. “If they are not processed and handled with proper care they won’t maintain stability for the end consumer.”
Naturex’s quillaia extract is becoming an important ingredient for the food and beverage, cosmetics and pharmaceutical markets, according to Albarron, who noted that the ingredient meets many of the current trends in labeling as it is 100 percent natural, kosher, halal, non-GMO (genetically modified organism), allergen free, and sustainably sourced. “These characteristics along with its flexibility and wide-range of applications have given the it a prominent position in the global market. This new facility will greatly benefit customers and consumers alike by securing a steady supply of the ingredient and providing them with the highest standards in quality. These guarantees were previously difficult to achieve in the quillaia market,” he described.
Dahle related that an increasing number of brand marketers are seeking a “one-stop shop,” even though no one company can be everything to everyone. As a contract manufacturer, he said, “it is always appropriate to see what upgrades fit into the wheelhouse of the business. In our case, we do powders, and we do them very well. It was only natural to have all these capabilities under one roof.”
He added that customers have been very receptive because they no longer need to audit several facilities and thus their lead times to receive their goods are much shorter. Plus, their purchasing agents only need to have one phone number. “Ultimately, the end user will be more satisfied due to the fact they will have fresher, more uniform product as everything is done under one roof,” he said.
In a nutshell, consumers expect their needs and wants to be fulfilled. The ability to do so lies in the constantly evolving expertise and capabilities of contract manufacturers and specialists. NIE
For More Information:
Ingredients by Nature, (909) 230-6200
Naturex, (201) 440-5000
Pharmachem Laboratories, (800) 526-0609
UAS Labs, (800) 422-3371