Choosing a Contract Manufacturer for Organics

“The soaring popularity of organic personal products looks a lot like other market trends we have all seen over the years,” says Lynn Betz, co-founder, Sensibility Soaps. “But it’s not. Organics require a fundamentally different approach to formulation and manufacturing. It’s more intuitive and experience-based. This shift is often quite hard for internal R&D and production managers to accept—especially among chemists who have worked only with conventional products. So, the first step is to start thinking unconventionally.”

Below are Betz’s recommendations in searching for a contract manufacturer for organic products. Her order of priorities reflects her perception of the special needs of organic product development and production.

  1. Assess the contract manufacturer’s expertise and depth of experience working with natural and organic ingredients.
  2. Meet the team in person. Meet all the key people you’ll be partnering with, and make sure they share your passion for organics and for satisfying the needs and desires of your customers.
  3. Evaluate the company’s understanding of the organic market in your target demographics, as well as the whole competitive landscape—with special emphasis on the mass-retail channels where sales, due to current economic realities, will likely be strongest.
  4. Make a site visit, and be sure to check out the equipment in the laboratories and manufacturing plants. Look for signs of innovative thinking geared toward fast production, superior product quality and competitive strength at retail.
  5. Evaluate the company’s quality program from top to bottom.