Whether you have your own full-scale supplement line or a few standalone products, there’s a good chance that you’ve dealt with this all too common question at least once: Is it better (read: more cost effective, timely, and generally beneficial) to manufacture dietary supplement products in the U.S. or overseas?
The Case for U.S. Manufacturing
When it comes to finding the best contract manufacturer for your products and needs, foreign manufacturing options can be tempting. Oftentimes, overseas manufacturing options have a reputation for being cheaper, faster, and a seemingly better option for the nutraceutical entrepreneur looking to seize the opportunity of a the moment. But, as many of us have come to know, reputation and reality are not always the same thing.
U.S. Regulatory Standards
As much as the media may like to say that the U.S. nutraceutical industry is unregulated, professionals across every aspect of the field can attest to the fact that such claims couldn’t be further from the truth. Currently, there is a large network of Federal offices, laws, regulations, and third-party organizations responsible for establishing and enforcing industry standards.
Over the last 20 years, this regulatory network has seen several key additions, with the most recent being the creation of the Office of Dietary Supplement Program (ODSP). Formerly a division of the Office of Nutrition Labeling and Dietary Supplements, the birth of the new and improved ODSP is thanks largely in part to four of the five main trade associations within the dietary supplements industry who felt it would mean better and more consistent regulatory attention for the industry as a whole.
For those looking to find the best contract manufacturer for their needs, one of the simplest and most effective tests is to ask potential manufacturers if their internal and external facilities are compliant with the current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) and regulations. Any compliant manufacturer should have no problem providing details.
The Realities of International Manufacturing
As we mentioned earlier, overseas contract manufacturers have a reputation for being a (potentially) simpler and more cost-effective alternative to U.S. contract manufacturers. It’s not uncommon for nutraceutical entrepreneurs to find themselves under the (very false) impression that by going with an international contract manufacturer, it becomes possible to work around some of the stricter U.S. regulations and standards. The fact of the matter is, no matter where a product is manufactured, if it is to be sold in the U.S. it must be made according to all U.S. cGMP regulations.
Keeping in mind the fact that U.S. supplement regulations must be met no matter where a nutraceutical product destined for the U.S. market is manufactured, let’s take a look three more of the most commonly overlooked realities of international manufacturing.
Less Isn’t Always More
For many nutraceutical entrepreneurs, the most alluring part of an overseas manufacturer is the possibility of lower production costs. Just like when you choose to work with a U.S. contract manufacturer, you tend to get what you pay for. Lower quotes and shorter turn around times have a tendency to lead to more errors.
Additional Shipping & Handling May Be Required
While certain overseas options may be able to boast lower production costs, U.S. contract manufacturers will almost always win out when it comes to the cost of shipping and handling. International shipping rates are notoriously high when compared to domestic rates, and as a result, they have a tendency to destroy any additional margins that were created by the reduced production costs.
Customs & Other Delays
There’s nothing quite like quite like not having your key products in-stock because the most recent shipment has yet to make its way through customs. Along with accounting for all the normal hiccups that can occur during the production process (no matter where a product is manufactured), those who choose to work with international contract manufacturers have that added bonus of lengthy and sometimes unpredictable shipping times as well as customs delays.
Made in the U.S.A.
At the end of the day, every brand owner is looking for the best contract manufacturer to bring their product to market. While international manufacturing options may have their perks, it’s undeniable that for a U.S. based nutraceutical entrepreneur, U.S. based contract manufacturers can offer an incredible number of benefits along with a level of convenience that international options would be hard pressed to exceed.