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The 11 Golden Rules
of Contract Manufacturing

The intent of this page is to serve as a guide for those individuals that are in the process of looking to switch manufacturers or selecting a contract manufacturer for the very first time. Posing the following questions when speaking to your sales representative will help you determine whether the organization that they represent is a reputable one or if it's a startup operation working out of a garage or an apartment, which may not last.


Does your manufacturing partner possess the GMP quality credentials your product needs?

Make sure the supplement partner with which you are doing business is registered with the US FDA, follows current Good Manufacturing Practices, and their operations are audited regularly for GMP compliance by a quality agency such as NSF International or UL/NPA.


Have you ever seen your current or prospective nutraceutical contract manufacturer exhibit at any trade shows?

All of the major nutraceutical contract manufacturers attend trade shows on a regular basis. If they say that they do not attend trade shows, chances are that they are not a legitimate operation.


Is there never anyone present to answer the phone when you call?

Most illegitimate companies don't pick up the phone and use answering machines for the first step of customer communication. If you can never seem to get a live person on the phone and are tired of "leaving messages", chances are that the company you're trying to contact does not have a full-time sales staff.


Ask your current or prospective nutraceutical contract manufacturer to furnish references.

One of the most common responses you may hear from a sales representative when you ask them for references from past customers is that they "make products for all of the big companies." If they are unwilling to coordinate a reference call, it's likely that they're trying to hide something from you.


Check how long their company has been doing business online.

If you know the web address of the company you're working with, conduct a “who is” record search in Google. Be sure to leave out "http://" and "www" when conducting this search.


Ask your sales representative for product liability insurance with their company name on it and make sure that they have at least $4 million in coverage.

If they do not have product liability insurance, then you don't have any coverage from them!


Insist on a tour of their facility/building.

If your sales representative instructs you to go anywhere other than the address that is on their website to visit their facility, chances are that they are working out of somewhere other than an office building (i.e. garage, apartment building, etc.)


Is the supplement manufacturer owned by a company that also sells Vitamins to consumers?

If a supplement manufacturer is subsidiary of a larger business entity, there might be a conflict of interest. Be absolutely sure your supplement manufacturer is not really your competitor. Your sales data will indicate if your formula is successful, your fulfillment data will tell them how you distribute. This is private information and should never be shared with parent entity who also sells supplements to consumers. It puts your formula at risk of being duplicated and sold in the same channels.


Is the nutraceutical contract manufacturer that you're working with or speaking with respected or even known in the industry? Have they won any major awards?

Visit various industry message boards, blogs, forums, etc. and ask other members in the community if they have heard of the contract manufacturer you're considering working with. People that actively contribute to these websites are extremely knowledgeable about the different contract manufacturers in the industry. If they have never heard of the company, chances are that they haven't been in business for very long. These people will also tell you what the overall reputation of the contract manufacturer is in the industry.


Ask your sales representative for a GMP registration certificate with their company name on it and make sure that it is up-to-date.

If they are unable to provide you with a current registration certificate, then they may be operating in contaminated conditions and/or may not be following proper procedures and processes. Common examples of the shortcuts in these procedures and processes may include raw material vendor qualification, the testing of raw materials and finished product, proper documentation, and the cleaning of equipment to avoid cross contamination. Do not be fooled by a local/state Chamber of Commerce issued certificate, the company is likely not cGMP.


Have you performed a background check on the company and verified its reputation?

If a company is operating below acceptable standards, dissatisfied customers will openly complain on websites such as Ripoff Report and BBB. Be sure to lookup the manufacturer's reputation on these websites before signing any contract. Sometimes you will find these complaints directly through Google's Searches.

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