Geared up for the tighter GMPS James Townsend
Passage of the new GMPs is a welcome development for contract manufacturers like Indigo Labs. "We are in full support of these new regulations," says Indigo's president, Maria Czech. "[They] are good for our customers and good for the industry. The new regulations will demand quality from manufacturers and bring much needed integrity and accountability to the nutrition industry."
Rising awareness and fears about sourcing issues (ie, numerous news stories recently about Chinese, Indian and Mexican products and ingredients) will undoubtedly put pressure on manufacturers to provide consumers assurances about their safety programmes and testing procedures. Increasingly, one hears talk even of country-of-origin labelling. To these issues, Czech says, "We are extremely selective when it comes to our ingredient vendors to ensure we are getting the best ingredients with safety and quality being the priorities. In addition, we have recently implemented a new quality programme that includes in-house testing and verification of all raw materials, regardless of origin."
While many expect contract manufacturers and laboratories to see increased demand for their services in the wake of increased government scrutiny, there will certainly be more pressure for such organizations to distinguish themselves from their competition. Czech feels that Indigo does this successfully through a comprehensive and personalized approach. "We assist clients with all aspects of their project including ingredients, packaging, label options, custom boxes and, of course, flavour. Our goal is to create a whole experience, not just a liquid in a bottle. We go that extra mile to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
"We want to understand what we can do to not only improve their product or ingredients, but also how can we help improve their packaging, presentation and their sales experience in this growing liquid category. Filling the actual bottles is the easy part! It's the co-ordination of all aspects of a project that takes so much energy and creativity," she says.
"We also use a very unique blending process that fuses raw materials together to create consistent results. We work closely with the leading flavour houses to provide the best flavour solutions for the more challenging ingredients. Having clients in for tastings and forecasting meetings is a great way to foster good communication and relationships."
Indigo was born in June 2006, in Oceanside, California, with a focus on liquid nutrition. Less than a year later, Czech says, the company had to move into a new 25,000-square-foot facility. "It was quite a challenge," she says. "There were many improvements to be made while staying within the time frame allowed and remaining on top of our production schedule."
Recently, Indigo was awarded designation as a Certified Organic Manufacturer by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), a registered certifier with the National Organic Program (NOP).
Indigo's clients fall into many categories, Czech says, including network marketing, natural products, club stores and direct mail. "Many of these come to us through personal referrals," she says, an obvious point of company pride. "You want to do business with a company that has a reputation of taking care of its customers and providing a product with integrity.
Beyond referrals, Czech's advice to anyone looking for a contract manufacturer is simple. "Definitely make sure you visit their facility, especially in the liquid category. You want to make sure the company you deal with is experienced in mixing and blending liquids, and also has the space and equipment to support your production."