Global nutraceutical brands expanding to the US market

Published: 4-Sep-2023

Nathan Cox, Chief Business Officer at Lief Labs, offers contract manufacturing and best practice guidance

As consumers continue to seek products to support their health and wellness goals, nutritional supplement and nutraceutical brands often look to expand their business internationally, including manufacturing in the US and bringing their products to this important market and customer base.

Relatively low barriers to entry, ease of production through a US cGMP (current good manufacturing practice) contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) and subsequent distribution support in this space make it an attractive option for growing global brands looking to take their lines to the next level.

For those international companies thinking about US expansion, there are some key considerations and best practices that can help make this process much smoother.

Choose a quality cGMP-certified CMO:

As the local regulations are enforced by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), choosing a US CMO with cGMP facility certification provides numerous important benefits and resources to international brands.

cGMPs provide for systems that ensure proper design, monitoring and control of manufacturing processes. A cGMP manufacturing facility certified by NSF is particularly well regarded in the US marketplace.

Through the NSF, officially certified manufacturers can verify that a brand’s product has the identity, strength, composition, quality and purity that appears on its label. This ensures consumers that the product is compliant with US standards and the brand is committed to quality assurance.

Global nutraceutical brands expanding to the US market

Shore up the supply chain

Securing the necessary supply chain for a supplement brand’s particular product line is critical for international brands looking to manufacture their products in the US.

To provide proper supply chain support, finding a CMO that has the right capabilities to match a brand’s needs and the capacity to hit their lead time requirements will be important to ensure successful entry into the US market.

Manufacturers often specialise in particular product formats and market segments … and nutraceutical brands will want to find a CMO that is best suited to deliver on their specific needs.

Seasoned CMOs will also have strong relationships and partnerships with a comprehensive network of vendors up and down the supply chain to ensure ready access to necessary raw materials and ingredients to meet a range of manufacturing requirements. 

Furthermore, brands need to know if the CMO has in-house product development capabilities to recreate their existing products or support them in developing new ones for their line.

A good CMO will be able to replicate a brand’s existing SKUs (stock keeping units) and flavour them in-house. They can also share product trends and market updates to help strategize on innovative new product concepts that can be added to the brand’s line. 

Conduct market research

It’s important for global brands to do their homework to better understand the US market when considering expanding there. Conducting market research to learn which areas in the US are best suited to sell their particular products is highly recommended.

A country as large as the US can greatly vary from state to state and region to region in terms of consumer interest and which product categories and formats are the most popular.

Market research reports that include geographic-specific data, demographics and analysis of the nutraceutical consumer base can be an extremely helpful resource for international supplement brands considering US expansion.

Relevant and reliable industry intelligence and sector-related insights can greatly help brands in terms of their marketing and advertising strategies, determine appropriate regional distribution partners and targeted channels, and make better overall budgetary decisions regarding where and how to best spend their dollars, among other benefits.

Know the registration requirements and best distribution channels

Understanding the US registration processes and requirements for a global brand to distribute its products there is critical.

This includes distribution through Amazon’s platform: significant changes have been made to their policies and requirements for products to be sold here.

Working with an experienced CMO in the US will allow global brands to be more up to date with these constantly evolving requirements, ensure speedy responses or corrections to avoid listings being taken down for an extended period of time and loss of expensive rankings. 

Global nutraceutical brands expanding to the US market

Amazon now requires specific testing and formatting of Certificates of Analysis (CoA) and certain product types require annual testing of compounds to ensure they have no banned substances.

Often, products can be categorised inaccurately and a good CMO can support brands in terms of reinstating their listing or helping them to avoid these mistakes altogether.

As Amazon and other large distribution channels such as eBay and Walmart continue to evolve, it’s important for international brands to have a good US partner that can keep them informed and is involved and well-educated in the industry policies and regulations setting.

Be compliant with US ingredients and formulation specifications

Being knowledgeable about allowable ingredients for formulation is a necessity for global nutraceutical brands when planning to manufacture their products in the US.

For example, there are certain ingredients that may be permissible in Europe and other global markets that may not be approved in the US — and vice versa. It is very important to understand these potential nuances in approved ingredients when planning to formulate and manufacture US nutraceutical products.

This includes the use of specific product benefits claims that a company plans to use for marketing and packaging to ensure the claims language also meets US approval and legal requirements.

The last thing a brand wants is to launch a product and then realise it isn’t approved for US distribution and is now a potential target for Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and FDA violations and lawsuits.

For global brands considering bringing their nutraceutical products to the US marketplace, these are all important key areas to consider, among others. The good news is that there are plenty of great resources to help guide international brands through the various required processes.

This includes identifying well-established US partners who can provide valuable expertise and industry intelligence, as well as a strong supply chain network and relationships. Seasoned contract manufacturers, for example, work with numerous brands and a range of suppliers, products, formats, raw materials, formulations and processes that can be leveraged.

Global brands should also consider choosing a strong CMO partner who will go above and beyond the typical production line services.

Global nutraceutical brands expanding to the US market

There are full-service and seasoned manufacturers who have a range of departments, such as R&D, Product Development, Marketing and Sales, and can be especially helpful as they offer a broad scope of knowledge and the experience and perspective of experts in numerous fields to better support international brands.

An experienced product development CMO partner can also provide marketing support and knowledge of what’s trending with US consumers to suggest additional SKUs, formula tweaks, new trademarked ingredients, packaging modification and other innovative ideas.

Your CMO is a key partner for your brand that should deliver quality products in a timely manner and help give market insights and innovative product concepts. Nutraceutical brands shouldn’t always go for the least expensive CMO as they often lack some of the other critical needs a brand will need to be successful in the US.

All of these available resources can go a long way to support international nutraceutical brands as they consider launching products in the US to help guide them through the processes and to be better positioned against competitors in the marketplace. 

You may also like