Getting to know the supply chain: Lessons from 2016’s special editions

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A year after the NY AG probe on botanical supplements, big calls for transparency came from both consumers and the industry. This year, we dedicated some of our in-depth coverage to transparency post-Schneiderman, as well as trends in contract manufacturing. This is part of a series of our monthly special edition roundups for 2016.

January: Transparency in dietary supplements

Leading industry figures said that transparency could be the solution to many of the industry's woes, especially a year after the high-profile NY AG probe into herbal supplements.

In this special edition, we spoke with the executives of natural channel retailers from Pharmaca and Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage and learned that consumers are demanding transparency from the supplement brands.

And even if consumers don’t fully grasp the concepts or science around nutritional supplements, or with the supply chain and manufacturing processes of supplements, transparency is still in demand. “The concept to transparency on its face is appealing even though most people don’t understand what it means. I think they confuse it with claims like sustainability, or non GMO, or even organic,” Jeff Hilton, principal at branding agency BrandHive, told NutraIngredients-USA.

There is danger that ‘transparency’ may lose its meaning and get mixed into a jambalaya of other marketing buzzwords, but Matthew Roberts, chief scientific officer of NBTY said “as an organization in an already highly scrutinized industry, we must ensure to follow-up our words with action that is evident to the consumer.”

April: Contract Manufacturing

Trust and transparency were major themes in 2016, and it’s no question that contract manufacturers play a big role in what consumers see when brands become more transparent. Detailed quality agreements are now becoming a vital part of contract manufacturing deals, and we asked three CEOs about what the key questions to ask are while qualifying contract manufacturers.

The industry continues to grapple with the age-old issue of cost versus quality as regulatory issues increase the cost of compliance, several experts observed.

In terms of innovation, more contract manufacturers are looking towards different gel encapsulation ingredients, refining non-porcine gelatin made of fish or chicken for consumers with religious dietary restrictions, and developing plant-derived gels to cater to the ever-growing consumer base adapting or striving for a more plant-based diet.

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