Contract manufacturers point to what
consumers will be looking for
in the new year.
PLUS: 5 Qs to ask before choosing a
contract manufacturing partner.
What is on the horizon for the natural products industry? Contract manufacturers serve as trendspotters, studying sales and consumer behaviors to identify evolving categories and new niche markets as they are developing. And a key role of the contract manufacturer is to pass these insights to clients, putting brands in a position to compete in a competitive, constantly changing market. So, we asked the experts to give us a heads up about what’s new and what’s next for 2023. Whether you want to bring new and innovative products to market, take something you do now to the next level, or just have a helping hand to remove some of the stress from what you’re already doing, a quality (emphasis on the quality) contract manufacturing partner can help you take that next step, including by pointing the way to the what will sell. Here’s eight trends to watch.
Immune Support, Evolved
“2022 saw several supplement trends,” says Gene Bruno, Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs for NutraScience Labs. “Immune support products continued to trend, but not at the same rate as in 2021. This included vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc, as well as specialty formulas and immune-specific herbs. There is no question that the pandemic caused people to have a much greater interest in promoting their immune health. As a result, dietary supplements known to support immune response—like vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, and specialty herbs/nutraceuticals—have had brisk sales. Even though the sales of immune-support supplements will certainly decrease over time, it is likely that they will still be elevated above that of pre-pandemic levels now that the importance of immune health has gained greater awareness.”
Tim Chiprich, VP of Product Development, Captek, agrees. “Vitamin D, vitamin C, and other combinations of immune-support ingredients were a trend in 2022 that I predict this will slow down and/or evolve in 2023…As consumers that embraced the benefits of traditional immune products during the global pandemic will want to continue to do so in 2023, I expect the demand for immune-support supplements to keep evolving into more complex combinations with added convenience.”
Stress and Sleep Support
There has been an increase in demand for stress and sleep, cognitive support, and healthy aging supplements in 2022, Chiprich says. “I believe this trend will continue next year.”
Bone & Joint Health
“The global bone and joint health supplements market is estimated to be valued at $11.7 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $17.6 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of 8.5% during the forecast period,” says Bruno. “Clearly, this product category is on a positive trajectory for growth. As a brand owner, though, you’ll need to think beyond old-school glucosamine/chondroitin if you want to be competitive.”
This category is expanding, Bruno shares. “The global eye health supplements market is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 6.25% during 2022-2027. There is no question that formulas based on the AREDS studies are prevalent and have existed for 20 years. Likewise, lutein products that provide protection against the harmful effects of blue light have also become commonplace. While both types of products have research to support them and are of great value, you’ll need to consider other nutraceuticals to differentiate your product.”
All Things -Botics
“Probiotics continue to be a strong category, and I’ve personally seen greater interest in postbiotics as a category,” says Bruno. However, prebiotics are really trending with an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.9% from 2022 to 2030.”
“The hydration products market size is expected to increase by $231.39 million at a CAGR of almost 7% by 2025,” Bruno reports. “Naturally, electrolytes are the first nutraceuticals of choice in these products, but it is easy to find hydration products with electrolytes. To be competitive in this category, the discerning brand owner will need to consider the inclusion of other nutraceuticals to provide points of differentiation.”
Plant-based and animal alternatives continue to trend. Bruno says, “Vegan-friendly products have also trended in 2022 and show every sign of continuing to do. In fact, the global vegan food market is expected to reach a value of over $22 billion in 2025. Also, the value of the global plant protein market was $29.4 billion in 2020, and industry estimates are that it could surpass $162 billion by 2030. This would make up 7.7% of the global protein market. To my mind, this qualifies as a mega-trend.”
Consumers want a combination of raw materials and traditional ingredients, says Chiprich. “Captek has witnessed greater demand for more innovative dosage forms that offer increased convenience over more traditional forms like tablets and two-piece hard-shell capsules. We’ve also witnessed a growing demand for ‘combination’ products that feature a new raw material alongside one or more traditional ingredients that offers our partners the opportunity to bring to market a differentiated product that targets popular indications.”
Bruno sees this as well, and stresses that science has to lead the way. “I’d expect to see an increased focus on innovation during 2023. Innovated formulations are always a trend.
During my 43 years in the dietary supplement industry, this has never changed. The industry continues to look for innovation, although now consumers tend to want safe and effective supplements, supported by scientific evidence and product claims. In fact, product safety claims are important to 50% of global consumers, and clinically demonstrated benefits are important to 73% of global supplement users.”
Summing up what’s gaining traction, Terry Keller, Captek VP of Sales, shares, “As we continue to exit the worst of the global pandemic, consumers appear to have a renewed focus on condition specific supplements. With an aging population, sleep and stress as well as cognitive support supplements are particularly ripe for continued expansion. Vitamin D supplementation appears to be continuing its upward growth trajectory, and I’d expect this sales lift to continue going forward, albeit not at the same pace as in 2020 and 2021. Immune-support supplements, while still important, are showing waning demand as we exit the pandemic, but it remains to be seen what the next generation of these types of supplements begin to target. I also believe healthy aging products are ripe for innovation and continued expansion.” WF
The State of Manufacturing in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing was projected to drop over half a million jobs between 2012-2022. In 2022, researchers saw this. There is expected to be 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing jobs by 2030, according to Deloitte. Further, manufacturing companies dealt with distribution delays in supply chain segments over the past year. Although output increased, as companies boosted production post-pandemic, prices continued to rise. According to Bloomberg data, the cost of transporting a container from Asia to Europe rose significantly over the past two years. What impact is this having?
Diversifying & Automating the Workforce
To help solve current issues, there is an increased focus on diversifying the workforce. Last year, the Strength Through Manufacturing Act was passed, with the goal of doubling the number of women-owned and minority-owned manufacturing facilities.
Also, manufacturing companies are investing more money in new technology. One focus is automated solutions for operations. This is the case for the agricultural and food manufacturing industry. Automation is growing, with the global agricultural robotics market expected to be worth $6.7 billion by 2032. Due to world events post-pandemic, labor has been increasingly in short supply in agricultural manufacturing. Therefore, groups are looking to automation to address jobs like seeding and harvesting.
Increased Efficacy Amidst Decline in Labor Force
The pandemic’s effect means organizations need to be more efficient in dealing with skills gaps and labor shortages. There is rising demand for manufactured products, but not keeping up with this can lead to loss of profit. Therefore, expanding capacity is vital. Further, a top-to-bottom evaluation of company processes is important, as is understanding ways to increase efficiency, support the workforce, and bridge the skills gap, according to Advanced Tech.
Tim Chiprich, Captek Vice President of Product Development notes, “Increases in raw material pricing this year have raised the focus for contract manufacturers on improving operational excellence. Identifying ways to be more efficient in order to reduce costs will be a continuing trend for 2023.”
Supply Chain Focus
The global supply chain disturbance continues to impact production. This year, the supply chain remains an area for monitoring, management, and improvement. Terry Keller, Captek Vice President of Sales, says, “The ongoing war in Ukraine has impacted that region of the world and some of the key ingredients sourced there. Both the Ukrainian war as well as the myriad of other roadblocks that have emerged over the last few years remain on the horizon in 2023. I do believe that contract manufacturing will refocus efforts around raw material procurement solutions with a special emphasis on the front end of the supply chain.”
Climate change has become a key focus. Manufacturing is responsible for about one-third of global greenhouse emissions. Due to this, brands are rethinking their operations model and moving towards low-carbon or carbon-neutral manufacturing systems. Environmental issues have become increasingly important, with a shift to sustainable processes and pursuit of carbon-neutral operations. Further, manufacturers can expect to see more eco-friendly demands from consumers. Companies throughout the natural products industry are working to lead the way on this front. For an overview of impactful actions being taking by leading ingredient suppliers, natural products brands, and retailers, read expanded coverage on www.WholeFoodsMagazine.com: Sustainability and BEYOND and Lighting the Way on Social and Environmental Sustainability.
4 Qs to Ask When Selecting a Contract Manufacturing Partner
Brands that don’t verify their partner could unknowingly have their products manufactured in an adulterated plant, and end up facing FDA action. It’s key to vet—and ask of questions before signing a purchase order. A few of the top questions our experts recommend asking:
- Does the contract manufacturer prioritize quality, value, and customer service?
Obviously, this one is essential. “When selecting a reputable contract manufacturer, I always suggest that customers ask questions that focus on quality, value, and customer service,” Captek’s Keller advises. “It’s critical to have a contract manufacturing partner that can hit the mark on both quality and value. If not, then this should eliminate the supplier from consideration. Customer service is the ‘secret sauce’ that differentiates one supplier from another. Mindfully choosing a contract manufacturer that can answer all three questions correctly will help ensure a good fit and mutually beneficial partnership.”
- Are they GMP Certified?
“Does the CM have third-party GMP certification from a credible source such as NSF?” Bruno of NutraScience Labs asks. “If not, you may be limited as to where you can sell your products since many retailers require such GMP certifications.”
- Do they provide realistic lead times?
Next, Bruno questions, “Does the CM provide realistic lead times? If they tell you they can have the product manufactured in four weeks, you should run away since there’s no way that quality raw materials can be procured, appropriate testing can be done, and proper manufacturing protocol can be followed in such a short time. You can have it done right, or have it done fast—but not both.”
- Do they offer formulation services?
Finally, Bruno urges brands to ask, “Does the CM offer formulation services from a qualified formulator to help assure that you have the right doses of the right nutraceuticals in your product so that you can make supportable claims?”