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The cost of supplements is one of the biggest concerns when manufacturing vitamins. Read on to understand the key factors influencing the price of supplements.

Understanding the Variables That Impact the Cost of Manufacturing Dietary Supplements 

Several factors influence supplement manufacturing costs, such as ingredient formulation and sourcing, production scale, technology and equipment, regulatory compliance, packaging, labeling, marketing, distribution, and industry trends. This article will explore these factors to help you understand their impact and plan effectively to mitigate unexpected costs.

Factors Influencing Supplement Manufacturing Costs 

When manufacturing vitamins and dietary supplements, achieving a balance between profitability and product quality is crucial. To accomplish this, it’s essential to grasp the factors that impact supplement manufacturing costs. Here are the key factors that influence supplement pricing: 

Formulation and Sourcing of Ingredients 

Formulation is arguably the most critical aspect of your supplement’s long-term success. The right combination of ingredients should enhance its effectiveness and encourage continued consumer use. 

However, custom formulations can vary significantly in manufacturing costs and largely depend on the chosen ingredients and their dosages. While trademarked ingredients are pricier, they often come with supportive research for claim substantiation. Conversely, generic versions may be more affordable but lack supporting studies. Opting for clinically relevant doses is ideal but can also be costly. Conversely, using lower doses risks inadequate claim support. Ultimately, it will be a balancing act to determine how many high-end ingredients at the correct doses you can afford to include in your supplement.

Regulatory Compliance and Testing 

Regulatory compliance and testing are integral parts of the supplement manufacturing process and can drive up manufacturing costs. For example, the manufacturing facility and processes must comply with industry rules and regulations such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). The best contract manufacturers will also have third-party certifications for GMP (e.g., NSF, Informed Choice), food safety (e.g., Food Safety System Certification FSSC22000), as well as approval for making products that are Kosher, Halal, organic, non-GMO Project Verified, allergen-free, and others. You may want to consider one or more of these specifications for your product. They may increase the manufacturing costs, but they will assure your customers of high product quality and establish you as a trustworthy brand. [1][2][3] 

Production Scale 

Like any industry, there are efficiencies with larger-scale manufacturing, so your per-unit manufacturing cost may decrease as you scale up your production. Consider your contract manufacturer’s minimum order quantities and pricing tiers to determine whether you can achieve the desired production scale and optimize your per-unit costs. [4] 

Manufacturing Technology and Equipment 

Manufacturing technology and equipment can also impact supplement costs. For instance, if you opt for less common delivery forms like oral strips, soft chews, or confectioneries (e.g., chocolates), specialized equipment is necessary and production generally needs to be on a larger scale, which will increase your costs and can also pose a risk – especially when producing tens of thousands of units for a new product’s initial run. While traditional delivery formats like capsules and tablets may not require such large production runs, there are still initial expenses to consider. Research and development work and a pilot batch might be necessary before the first production run, incurring associated costs. However, these expenses are limited to the initial run; subsequent production lots won’t require these additional steps.[5]

Packaging and Labeling 

The importance of packaging in attracting consumers’ attention and encouraging initial product consideration is well-established. Features like attractiveness or sustainability can significantly impact consumer perception. 

However, deviating from standard supplement packaging design options often comes with increased costs. For instance, sustainable packaging, made from recycled materials, is pricier than conventional options, yet many consumers prefer it due to environmental concerns. Some brand owners may opt for unique bottle shapes or containers uncommon in the supplement industry, like those used in cosmetics. 

When considering such alternatives, you must assess their compatibility with automated packaging lines. Hand-filling unconventional containers will significantly raise costs. 

Creative opportunities lie in unique, appealing labels that can be automatically applied to bottles. The incremental cost of distinctive labels is considerably lower than using uniquely shaped bottles.

Marketing and Distribution Expenses 

In addition to the cost considerations previously discussed, there are also expenses associated with marketing and distribution. These costs are contingent upon numerous factors.

Distribution Channel:

If you intend to sell your product on Amazon, be aware they require that all ingredients in a supplement be assayed to demonstrate that the amounts of nutraceuticals indicated on the label are actually in the product. This will involve some up-front testing expenses, so you’ll need to let your contract manufacturer know that this is part of your plan before they provide you with a manufacturing quotation.

Shipping Costs:

Are you shipping your product to hundreds or thousands of consumers or a single common distribution center for a large retail chain?

Marketing Costs:

If you’re selling direct-to-consumers, you may be running digital marketing programs like SEO and SEM, utilizing influencers, or advertising on the radio or television. Conversely, if you’re selling to retail outlets, you may be advertising in industry trade publications. You must factor these marketing costs into the product’s wholesale/retail price.

Product Quality Claims:

You may also want to make certain quality claims about your product, like “gluten-free,” “Kosher,” “Halal,” “USDA Organic Certified,” or “non-GMO.” Each quality claim requires additional testing or specific procedures that have additional costs.

Industry Trends and External Factors 

Global dietary supplement trends are evolving constantly – based on the latest scientific research and customer expectations. From new ingredients and safety concerns to personalized nutrition and sustainable products, supplement brand owners must adjust their formulations based on these trends to stay competitive. These can add to the supplement manufacturing costs, depending on your size of operation, level of automation, and location. [6] 
Additionally, external factors like economic uncertainties, pandemics, supply chain disruptions, or global geopolitical events can impact supplement manufacturing costs. Supplement brand owners should factor in potential raw material shortages, increasing demands, talent shortages, or inflation when estimating supplement manufacturing costs. [7] 

An infographic summarizing the 6 factors that influence the cost of manufacturing supplements

Conclusion 

As the global dietary supplement market continues its rapid expansion, it’s clear that brand owners must weigh several factors when determining their supplement manufacturing costs. Striking the right balance between profitability and product quality is an ongoing challenge, and understanding the various factors influencing these costs is vital. 

Vitaquest specializes in guiding brand owners through this intricate landscape. Our experienced team can offer valuable insights into the factors that impact supplement manufacturing costs and assist you in formulating and creating a high-quality product at a competitive price. 

We acknowledge that some manufacturers may provide lower price quotes, but this could come at the expense of ingredient quality or manufacturing standards. Choosing to work with a manufacturer solely based on price can cause irreparable harm to your business and your customers. With Vitaquest, you can be confident that we prioritize quality while maintaining competitive pricing. This commitment to quality is one of the many reasons why dietary supplement companies have chosen to partner with us for over 45 years. 

For more information on how we can custom manufacture high-quality dietary supplements for your business, and our convenient packaging design, powder engineering services, and supplement order fulfillment solutions, call 800-526-9095 to speak with one of our knowledgeable sales executives or request a nutraceutical manufacturing price quote.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

How much does it cost to manufacture custom supplements?  

Many factors must be considered in determining the cost of manufacturing custom supplements. These include the formulation and sourcing of ingredients, production scale, manufacturing technology and equipment, regulatory compliance, packaging and labeling, marketing and distribution, and industry trends and external factors. Although you will need to determine some of these costs (e.g., marketing), documenting your product requirements (i.e., sketching out a formula, determining the dose format, etc.,) and requesting a manufacturing price quote from a qualified supplement manufacturer can help clarify things.

Do I need a license to sell supplements in the U.S.? 

If you’re in the business of selling virtually anything (whether direct-to-consumer or business-to-business), you’ll likely need a license and/or permit. Your best bet is to contact your county clerk to learn what the licensing requirements are in your area.

 

References:

  1. https://www.nutrasciencelabs.com/blog/factors-affecting-the-cost-of-manufacturing-dietary-supplements 
  2. https://ssnutra.co/factors-affecting-the-cost-of-manufacturing-supplements/ 
  3. https://smpnutra.com/the-true-cost-of-manufacturing-supplements-vitamins 
  4. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economiesofscale.asp 
  5. https://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/issues/2020-03/view_features/manufacturing-equipment-technology/ 
  6. https://natacgroup.com/news/new-trends-in-the-food-supplement-industry/ 
  7. https://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/issues/2023-03/view_features/manufacturing-dietary-supplements-in-economic-uncertainty/ 
Rick Handel, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations at Vitaquest
Rick
Handel
Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations

Rick Handel is a 50-year veteran of the nutraceutical industry, with a strong background in formulation, R&D and GMP manufacturing of dietary supplements. Rick is celebrating 30 years with industry-leading supplement manufacturer Vitaquest International, where he currently serves as Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations. In that capacity, Rick is responsible for driving sales and innovation by identifying and developing new strategies, business opportunities, science-backed ingredients, and novel delivery technologies. Rick holds eight patents and has presented his published scientific papers and studies at conferences around the world.

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