With the market now saturated with interesting and appealing natural products, it is imperative to stand out. You could try to have sales reps standing in every aisle of every natural store to highlight the benefits of your product. Or, you could let your packaging do the talking for you. A well-designed, professional look is more than a pretty picture; done well, packaging will put your best foot forward, showing customers why they should care about your story and your unique products.

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Positive contract manufacturing relationships are all about meeting and exceeding expectations. Seeing eye to eye, being on the same wavelength, having one’s clocks synchronized…these are crucial factors for the success of any partnership between manufacturer and finished product marketer. “It is never a good practice to over-promise and under-perform,” notes Richard Kaufman, executive vice president of Paragon Laboratories, Torrance, CA.

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Will 2013 be a good year for the natural products industry? And, how will 2012’s hottest issues like GMOs affect the new year from a business standpoint? In this feature, WholeFoods goes right to the source via interviews with raw materials suppliers to bring you insight into key areas we should have our eyes on in the coming year. These companies are often at the forefront of innovation, often playing with new ingredients and combinations years before we see them on the market. Their knowledge of industry trends is something from which we can all benefit.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the federal regulatory agency with the primary responsibility of enforcing the statutes and regulations governing the manufacturing, packing, labeling and distribution of products in the food, beverage, dietary supplement and cosmetics industries. Whether it is conducting inspections to ascertain compliance with the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs), reviewing labeling or striving to ensure the safety of products, the FDA looms as an ever-present monitor of companies in the aforementioned industries.

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They understand more than ever what their nutrition needs are, yet they can’t always easily find the time, or spend the money, to bridge the gap from knowing what’s healthy to practicing it in their diet. Because of these factors, consumers keep turning to food products with healthy ingredients added in as bonus nutrition. Certain functional ingredients are especially popular already, while others are climbing the ladder of consumer awareness.

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With all of the effort and investment that goes into developing a product, it may be easy to become excited at the end of the process and say, “Let’s throw it on the shelf, already!” But for any product or product line, from dietary supplements to cosmetics, manufacturers would do well not to overlook the crucial last step in bringing something to market: designing the product’s home, its packaging.

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The mark of a first-rate contract manufacturer is a unique flexibility in fulfilling client needs. Beyond the basic capability to churn out products from an assembly line, true manufacturing partners are well-positioned to make a product run work for you.

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In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made public a proposed guidance for new dietary ingredients (NDIs) that are included in supplements. Though the document is aimed at finished product manufacturers, it could have a profound affect on raw materials suppliers.

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As with all types of high-profile public misfortune, a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation is something many natural products companies may think can only happen to other firms. Indeed, it is often the so-called “bad players” or obvious cases of false advertising that gain notoriety when enforcement actions are taken. But even well-intentioned companies may run afoul of FTC if they aren’t careful about the content of their advertising. While much remains the same in this arena, there are several new enforcement patterns to be aware of, as well as several forces to keep tabs on that may well shape the agency’s actions in the near future.

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Many regulatory changes are percolating in the natural products industry. Leaders from several industry associations and nonprofits offer some insight about what could be in store for companies in the near future.

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