Under Contract

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | April 3, 2017

From startups to multibillion-dollar businesses, FMCG companies are outsourcing manufacturing operations to focus on what the

Little guys, big guys and guys of every size are reimagining the ways that their skin care formulas, laundry detergents, cosmetics and cleansers get produced. Well-known household and personal product manufacturers are scaling down their manufacturing operations, opting to outsource production to contract manufacturers. Startups get off to a good start by focusing on what they do best and leaving production to experts. Big or little or somewhere in the middle, a move to contract manufacturing is a move that saves money, time and a lot of headaches.

A lot of heartache, too. Everyone realizes that e-commerce has changed retail forever—and not just for retailers. Companies that can adapt and change to this new reality have a chance to make it; those that can’t may soon find themselves out of business.

“Amazon’s goal is to knock people out of business,” said one industry executive. “Companies must be innovative or they won’t survive.”

Steve Dawes, president, AIG Technologies, noted that many entrepreneurs are foregoing the traditional brick-and-mortar route in favor of the online format.

“It’s easier for them to move more quickly on their ideas without having to manufacture their own products,” he explained.

AIG goes further by offering to store products for on-demand delivery and filling minimum order of just 50 gallons.

“That’s our niche. We give the entrepreneur the opportunity to test the waters,” he added.

Whether startup or established player, both have specific needs according to David Chung, CEO, Englewood Lab. He pointed out that startups with small teams are definitely more agile and nimble when it comes to creating new products and launching a brand. 

“The approval process is shorter since there are less people making the decisions and giving feedback,” he explained. “(But) there has also been an increase in established brands expanding categories—skin care brands launching makeup and vice versa.” 

GAR Labs got on-board with the e-commerce revolution early on. CEO Tom Raffy noted that more new projects are sold on Amazon versus traditional bricks-and-mortar operations.

“(We’ve expanded) our involvement with Google, via its Adwords department to fine tune the keywords along with the times, days and areas of the country that we want GAR Labs’ website to be visible,” explained Raffy. “So far, it’s been very effective.”

GAR expects a 10-15% increase in new business this year. According to Raffy, independent brands are driving most of GAR’s new business. Older customers are benefitting too, when they shift more sales online.

No matter how they get products in front of consumers, like other contract manufacturing executives who spoke with Happi, Todd Shea, VP-marketing, innovation and strategy, Aware Products, said customers insist on innovation.

“They are seeking product solutions that are market disruptors in texture, visual presence, application and packaging,” he explained. “Aware has developed a great deal of innovations that involve transformational and multitasking formulas in the past year.”

These days, innovation is top-of-mind with every supplier, marketer and third-party manufacturer. But some supply chain partners seek new ways to connect customers with novel ideas.

To maintain a productive dialog with its customer base, CoValence developed “Innovation Summits” as a way for it to strengthen and build business relationships with its clients, according to Melinda Wochner, chief marketing officer, CoValence.

“An Innovation Summit is the perfect occasion for a team from CoValence to conduct a face-to-face meeting with our clients, giving both sides the opportunity to discuss new ingredient technologies, trending products, launch initiatives,” she explained. “An Innovation Summit, in addition to building strong business relationships, helps to strategically expedite and streamline new product launches and future sales objectives.”

What They’re Making…

Chung said that Englewood Lab’s clients are always looking for that “wow” factor—products and formulations that have a visual impact as well as an end benefit.  

“The demand for natural ingredients and formulations is also greater than ever,” he explained. “The natural category is increasing every year and what is most important is to develop innovative natural and organic skin care that is truly effective and results-oriented—providing real results that rival traditional anti-aging products.”

Natural-based formulations are impacting other contract manufacturers too.

Sundeep Gill, president, Sundeep Cosmetics, said brand owners seek new, innovative products to stand out in the ever-growing landscape of ideas and concepts. Sundeep Cosmetics offers its customers natural solutions and novel technologies.

“As natural chemists, we walk a delicate balance of producing a safe product that is marketable as well as being conscience of marketing concepts that would differentiate products in this competitive market,” explained Gill. “Natural preservatives are always a challenge because of how they can interfere with, not just stability, but the efficacy of a product.”

Therefore, in some cases, Sundeep chemists must think out of the box by using a material that is perfect for a particular application, but can also lend a hand to preserving the product as well.

Aside from preservation issues, Sundeep continues to develop new emulsification technologies. During the past year, Gill and his team have been perfecting internal phase microemulsions and pickering emulsions. These pickering emulsions use, instead of surfactants, a solid phase that stabilizes the emulsion. These types of technologies lend themselves to more stable and less irritating products, according to Gill.

Private label products have been an important reason for CoValence’s growth, according to Wochner.

“Our private label products consist of current and future trend products that fit a variety of brand philosophies which gives our clients an opportunity to quickly move into the market with innovative products,” she said. “In addition, our private label products are excellent benchmarks for our formulators and clients to help guide and expedite custom development pursuits.”

Nearly every contract manufacturer reports growing demand for “natural” formulas. Consumers continue to demand more simplistic ingredient lists. They want to see ingredient names that they recognize, according to Shea.

“They are looking for sustainable, natural, and shorter ingredient lists with all the performance they are currently receiving,” he explained. “They love indigenous marketing stories and globally inspired solutions to their skin and hair care needs.”

They also want multi-purpose, quick-fix, and portability in products, Shea added.

According to a US Nonwovens company spokesman, generally speaking, intimate and personal care wipes are on the rise. The trick, he said, is to offer formulation assistance to get it right from a differentiation standpoint.

“Marketers have seen the benefits of outsourcing outweigh the benefits of internal production,” said the spokesman. “They get specialized attention to formulation, innovation, lower cost structures due to lumping their volume with other wipe volumes, etc.”

And what issues are having the biggest impact on the wipes market right now? According to US Nonwovens, flushability remains a hot topic.

“With DC and others taking a localized approach via grass roots legislation, it’s making it harder for the wipes community to find sensible solutions,” said the spokesman. “Each producer and also each convertor has their own proprietary solution which can be blaze a path forward, but many are long shots at this time vs the tidal wave of pent up frustration in communities nationwide.”

According to US Nonwovens, the industry has to do a much better job at finding solutions in order to keep municipalities in good shape.

And for Whom!

The men’s category grew so much for GAR Labs that the company created a separate manufacturing and filling department for gender-focused products—specifically hot filled pomades, which have gone through the roof in volume.

Cosmobeauti Lab’s specialties include skin care, cosmoceuticals, anti-aging creams, pigmentation creams, peptides and stem cells products. More clients are inquiring about anti-aging products, according to Marketing Manager Barbara Choi. They also want to see more new products in the market like instant lifting serums—products that remove fine lines and wrinkles instantly without Botox. On a less dramatic, but no less important note, clients want products that can instantly remove dirt from the consumer’s face.

“The whole world is full of air pollution,” observed Choi. “More raw material suppliers are marketing for contract manufacturing exfoliating mask or tightening gel for eyes.”

One-Stop Auditing

Once company executives have decided on the contract manufacturing route, how can they be sure that their laundry lists of suppliers are on the same page in terms of quality, sustainability and other issues? F4SS, the Foundation for Strategic Sourcing, has created AuditOne, an initiative designed to simplify, standardize and streamline the process by which major consumer product companies conduct quality audits globally.

According to Lisa Shambro, executive director, F4SS, AuditOne represents a significant step toward a new model for supply chains.

“Technology represents an opportunity between customers and suppliers to move toward a digital, no-touch interaction,” she explained. “This industry is on the cusp of significant changes.”

Several major CPGs recognize the need for change. According to F4SS, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Gojo Industries, Unilever, L’Oréal and Estée Lauder have agreed on the common standards outlined in the AuditOne program. When the program is up and running, these and other multinationals should realize significant cost savings. According to one estimate, brand owners pay $2,500 for each audit; by relying on AuditOne savings could run into seven figures.

“Most of the brand owners don’t get to all of their suppliers,” added Shambro. “So our program represents greater coverage.”

Suppliers will save money, too. Shambro estimates that it costs suppliers $4,300 per audit. If they have 10 different customers with 10 different systems and priorities the costs add up quickly.

A packaging standard is rolling out first, and from there, AuditOne will include successive standards for CSR, sustainability, security and more. F4SS executives are so confident in the long-term success of AuditOne that the program is getting spun-off to its own organization. The move is being made to comply with regulations. Shambro will step down as executive director of F4SS to acquire AuditOne.

“We are going to change the face of compliance,” she assured Happi.

Late last month, F4SS announced that Shambro will step down as executive director and will take over the AuditOne business.

“We are delighted to see Lisa, who has been involved in both F4SS and ​AuditOne ​from inception, takeover AuditOne ​and advance it across multiple audit areas and across the entire CPG industry. We thank Lisa for her leadership and contributions to F4SS over the past 10 years and look forward to collaborating with her as she takes the actions necessary to successfully establish ​AuditOne ​as the process by which consumer companies and their suppliers conduct quality audits globally,” said Steve Weinstein, chairman, F4SS.

Beyond Borders

Going global isn’t just for multinational, multibillion dollar corporations. Contract manufacturers are at work on a variety of levels to meet the needs of their customers and the consumers around the world. For example, Englewood Lab recently partnered with Nihon Kolmar as part of its plan to expand into color cosmetics, according to Chung.

“The strategic decision to partner with Nihon Kolmar, which made an investment in Englewood Lab, greatly expands our portfolio in the US,” said Chung. “Many of our customers sell both skin care and makeup and utilizing the latest technology is always our priority. Having this new innovation in R&D at our fingertips will add significant growth potential for both our new and current customers.” 

The partnership with Nihon Kolmar is only the most recent move by Englewood Lab. More than a year ago, the company expanded into Korea, which Chung describes as “very exciting and tremendously successful.” Korea, of course, has been the launch pad for some of the most interesting cosmetics in recent years. The additional R&D capabilities is a significant asset to Englewood Lab customers, he told Happi.

“Having a lab in Korea is also important to capitalize on the cutting edge technology coming out of the region,” he explained. “Our clients rely on us for much more than simply contract manufacturing. We are more of an innovation partner than anything else.”

According to Chung, his customers and clients are always looking for the latest technology and what will be the next big thing in beauty. 

“That is one of the reasons why our expansion in Korea and now with Nihon Kolmar in Japan is so significant,” he explained. “We have a global team formulating the latest technology and at the center of the most innovative advancements in beauty.” 

Chung told Happi that there has definitely been a shift in the beauty industry to be more global—from a manufacturing, innovation and logistical standpoint—which is why it became critical for Englewood Lab to find the right partners when it expanded its capabilities into Korea.

“Our customers experience the same quality and attention to detail at both Englewood Lab in the US and Korea,” he explained. “Our clients are also global—and require partners that can facilitate their needs in a seamless, cost effective and innovative way around the world.”

According to Shea, global regulatory changes continue to push Aware’s customers toward developing ahead of upcoming regulation implementation.
“Aware looks to make sure that we are guiding our customers and formulas toward the future with all new development,” he added.

Aware Products has been manufacturing personal care products for more than 40 years. During that time, the industry’s needs have changed, and so has Aware.
“The big change for Aware has been evolving from a value-added contract manufacturer to a strategic partner, offering best in class service across all resources: innovation, R&D, manufacturing and quality control,” said Shea. “Aware works to maintain an impressive, curated portfolio of strong, established brands coupled with the hottest, fast-growing emerging brands in hair, skin, bath, body and OTC care items.”

Delivery on innovation coupled with reliability in manufacturing and unsurpassed customer service that begins with collaboration to fully understand each customer’s strategy and brand DNA, separates Aware from its competitors according to Shea.

He told Happi that Aware has a specific team of individuals dedicated to innovation that includes experts in R&D, marketing, operations, quality and sales.

Regulatory Upheavals
Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential Election didn’t just shock the pundits and prognosticators, it has sent shockwaves through the contract manufacturing community as well.

“The regulatory landscape has become a concentrated area for our company, with the dramatic shift in political climate we have become sensitive to the possible adjustments made to not just cosmetics but also drug and medical device applications,” observed Gill. “We are working with our regulatory staff to prepare and educate our clients as well as potential clients in the future as to how these potential changes may effect their brands.”

Dawes noted that the Drug Quality Security Act (DQSA) aims to create and establish an electronic traceability system for pharmaceutical drugs. As of November 2017, manufacturers will be required to serialize pharmaceutical products.

AIG Technologies will have all its procedures and hardware in place to comply with DQSA this month. Dawes said that testing will begin this summer and AIG will be online by November.

According to Wochner, CoValence’s continued success and growth has enabled the company to improve its personalized in-lab support, private label products, custom development formulations and innovation summits, as well as its facility which improves clients’ manufacturing experience and lead-times.

The combination of our flexibility, services, innovative formulas, and personalized support is crucial,” explained Wochner.

CoValence has expanded its capabilities this past year by adding new mixing, filling, and raw material testing equipment, in addition to facility enhancements geared towards further refining GMPs.

“These continued enhancements have helped our clients’ improve their scale-up launches, time-lines, as well as improved our manufacturing, filling, and testing proficiencies,” said Wochner.

During the past year, GAR made a major software purchase and is running on the new and expanded Batch Master manufacturing program. “It is now fully integrated with the world class SAP accounting and inventory program, which has made GAR Labs software compatible with most retailers and wholesalers,” explained Raffy.

And, Aware has made improvements. “The results have been 25% increase in capacity, nearly doubling parts-per-minute on many lines, and dramatically reducing, if not eliminating, scrap in most categories,” Shea explained.

Increasing output, reducing waste? Just two reasons why more manufacturers are outsourcing operations these days. As speed-to-market and competition accelerate, demand for contract manufacturing services will continue to grow.

Want To Crack the Household Cleaning Category? It’s Real Simple!
• It’s survived the rough-and-tumble world of consumer magazine publishing, now Real Simple is taking on the likes of RB, Clorox, Seventh Generation and SC Johnson with the rollout of Real Simple Clean, a line of household cleaning products made from eco-responsible ingredients and housed in recyclable packaging. Lab Clean, Inc., a Los Alamitos, CA manufacturer and distributor of eco-responsible home and automotive care products, is producing the line.

The Real Simple Clean line includes washing machine cleaner, leather furniture cleaner and conditioner, glass and surface cleaner, hand soap and other eco-responsible solutions. The products feature essential oils ranging from fresh citrus and eucalyptus to lavender and rosemary mint.

“As we continue to evolve and expand Real Simple, the new Real Simple Clean line is another way we make women’s lives easier. Consumers are increasingly demanding products that work but are still safe for families and pets, and we developed this formula to meet those needs,” said Leslie Yazel, editor-in-chief, Real Simple. “We bond with our consumers around organization and cleaning, but also around simple, elevated design—and the subtle, pretty packaging is another reason I love Real Simple Clean.”

A Real Stage presence at waterborne symposium
By Kerry Pianoforte • Editor, Coatings World
• What’s the most expensive paint in the world? Nail polish! The seemingly disparate world of cosmetics, paints and inks collided when The School of Polymers and High Performance Materials at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) held its 44th Annual International Waterborne, High-Solids and Powder Coatings Symposium Feb. 19-24 in New Orleans, LA. The Waterborne Symposium is a technical forum for environmentally friendly coatings technologies. Proceeds from the symposium are used by USM for various elements of academic program development including junior faculty development, graduate student stipends, equipment acquisition and maintenance, and especially scholarships for undergraduate students majoring in polymer science. Most of these students enter the coatings or related polymer industries upon graduation. These scholarships are key to USM’s efforts to recruit the highest-achieving students into its polymer program.

This year’s event had 400 registered attendees and featured 47 talks organized into seven sessions related to various aspects of surface coatings: waterborne, additives, polymerization, general, high solids and powder coatings.

Dale Pritchett, publisher of Coatings World (one of Happi’s sister publications in the Rodman Media group), moderated a “Look Beyond the Surface: How Polymers Define Inks, Coatings and Personal Care.”

“Three technical scientists were on the panel representing the ink market, the coatings market and the cosmetic market,” Pritchett explained. “These three different industries are bound by the same surface chemistry.”

Panelists were Dr. Juanita M. Parris, global director of R&D for  Material  and  Analytical  Science at Sun Chemical Corporation; Dr. Rajeev Jain, chief manager, product development at Asian Paints Limited; and Dr. Xian Zhi (Joe) Zhou a global applied research leader at L’Oréal. Attendees and students in the audience were able to hear first-hand what challenges they face in their respective markets in bringing their customers’ needs into commercial viable products.”

This panel focused on the similarities of waterborne technologies being utilized in the coatings, inks and personal care sectors. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from experts in these industries regarding the technology that is driving the market.

Parris’ discussion was titled “Polymer Innovation Needs” and focused on driving the future of innovation. According to Parris, innovations in the ink industry must be industrially scalable and balance cost effectiveness and time constraints. She called for viable replacements for bisphenol A and aziridene crosslinker. Jain of Asian Paints presented “Coatings Research Outlook in Today’s Environment” and focused on the continuing shift from solventborne to waterborne technologies. According to Jain, there are a number of technologies fueling innovation, including hybrids, high solids, smart coatings, and renewable and bio-based monomers.

Zhou’s presentation was an overview of the chemistry L’Oréal utilizes to develop nail polish and the move to more water-based technologies. According to Zhou, there are similarities between nail polish and other personal care items and coatings. “The biggest difference is that we are dealing with a living substrate,” he noted. “But we are still looking for the same properties as coatings manufacturers. These include adhesion, scratch resistance, chemical and wear resistance, rheology and gloss.”