One of the services that we offer here at Oxford Contract Manufacturing is formulation - including research and product development.
What we offer
We want to make sure that you get the best service possible, so we’re flexible and aim to accommodate all your needs. That’s why we offer both full and partial formulation, and a range of different types of supplement.
What's the product development processOur formulation process can vary depending on the product, but it generally follows these stages.
Discussion of product requirements
This would be a chat with your Account Manager about your order, where you can talk about what you expect from your product. It’s important to discuss the purpose of the product and any specific bespoke elements you’d like us to consider.
If you don’t already have a formula you’re happy with, you will be put in touch with one of our certified nutritionists. They will advise you and help you come up with a formula that suits your needs. When you’re happy with the final formula, your account manager will provide a quote. If you already had a formula ready to go when you came to us, you just skip to this step!
Research and development
At this point we can start the research and development process. This will include ordering ingredients (if we don’t already have them in stock), and producing initial test batches.
We’re always happy to use your preferred suppliers to purchase ingredients, provided they meet our standards for approval.
After a first batch has been created, we will send some samples to you for testing. This is particularly important, as we’re continually focused on your satisfaction, and want to keep an open line of communication.
When you’re happy with the formula, we can move into full-scale production, but if any changes are needed, another test run is included in the R&D fee.
Supplement formulation process
So what are the specifics of formulating a product? As mentioned earlier, we provide two types of custom formulation - partial and full.
Partial: If you have an idea of all or the majority of the ingredients you want to use, but need assistance determining dosages.
In this instance, one of our qualified nutritionists would formulate the appropriate dosages, based on NHS recommendations, the Reference Intakes of specific ingredients, and scientific studies.
Sometimes the formulations of reliable competitors are considered too. Most often, the dosages will also be limited by the serving size of the product.
If you have a general understanding of the product you’d like to launch - this is usually the purpose of the product. For example, a multivitamin or immune product.
For this, our nutritionist would determine the ingredients based on any health claims you want to make, scientific studies, and similar products from reliable competitors.
Other considerations: Accommodating the target population for the product is important when formulating. This is because different sizes or types of products may be more appropriate for certain groups.
For example, when creating a childrens’ product, formulating a smaller or chewable tablet, as well as using the necessary reference intakes.
Towards the end of the formulation, the Project Manager is consulted on whether the product is likely to press well into a tablet, or form a good capsule. Some ingredients can be tricky to use, especially if they draw in moisture, so those are avoided where possible and replacement ingredients may be recommended.
Tablets (non-effervescent): usually around 8 weeks (can be as little as 4-6). Powders are often much quicker.
Flavoured products: 12 weeks (depending on stock and difficulty).
What can impact the process?
No formulation or R&D process is the same, and there are certain projects that take longer than others. Over the years we’ve identified some causes of delays which you may want to consider:
This is one of the most complex parts of formulation. There are multiple factors to acknowledge, and some of those can increase lead times. This is because there are millions of different flavour combinations, and finding the right flavour for a product in the correct dosage is a complicated process.
We have some popular flavours in stock, but if we have trouble masking the natural flavour of a product, that can add additional time.
Flavoured effervescent tablets:
Pressing an effervescent formula isn’t too complicated. However, a delay can come from trying to develop a formula that dissolves completely and quickly in a satisfying manner.
Thankfully, we’ve discovered that creating a good tasting formula in powder form before tabletting means we can see if it reacts and tastes as required. This allows us to try different flavour combinations in a much quicker timeframe. Because we don’t have to press the tablet each time, it reduces your R&D costs too!
So, if you’re interested in making your supplement dreams come true, call +44 (0)1865 986140 to speak with one of our customer service specialists. We will be more than happy to help you.