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Product refinement in collaboration with nutrition professionals

In this three-part series, we explore the partnership between industry and nutrition professionals around the formulation, refinement, and selling phases. Part 1 explored the collaborative potential between manufacturer and nutrition professional during the formulation stage; Part 2 dives into refinement and championing active ingredients.

After you have worked with a nutrition professional to develop a formula of active ingredients for your nutrition product, you should have a good idea about the presentation that best suits the requirements of the active ingredients. This will be based on a number of factors including:

  • The dose that is required to have the desired effecta pill based supplement for a high volume active ingredient won’t be effective
  • The likely palatability of the active ingredientsan unpleasant tasting active won’t work in a gummy, drink or functional food without strong, often artificial flavours to mask it
  • The compatibility of different nutrients together
  • The stability of the active ingredients in different environments

Putting together a prototype with guidance from your nutrition professional may be an option at this stage. This would allow you and your team to gauge if you think the product is having any short term effects.

With your baseline information, you will be able to identify the correct production laboratory to work with, which ideally will have experience with similar products. This will streamline the production process. At this stage, you will need to take your formula to the lab and it is important to take your nutrition professional with you as it is likely that compromises will need to be made on the formulation. Taking the dose of an active ingredient below the threshold for making claims about your product or lowering the dose of an important active in favour of a less important component could compromise the efficacy of your product. Nutrition professionals will be able to help you to prioritise the active ingredients and make decisions on how and where to compromise in order to achieve a stable product within the confines of the weight of active ingredient that can be permitted in your product.

At this stage you may also need to make compromises based on costs, availability of product, timescale to production and other factors. Without agreement from the whole team, it can be tempting to take shortcuts or make compromises that may be financially beneficial in the short term but will result in a phase one product that disappoints customers or lacks credibility in the market.

Another issue that commonly arises is that manufacturers and labs will offer advice on alternative products or additional ingredients that may sound credible and appealing but may compromise the integrity of the finished product. A nutrition professional will be able to weigh up the research that has been undertaken to reach the original formula against the offerings brought to the table by third parties and help in making an evidence-based decision about including the suggestions in the formula.

While robust research and credible ingredients should be at the forefront of product development, the commercial aspect must also be taken into account. An experienced dietitian or registered nutritionist will be able to support you to make pragmatic decisions about your product that bridge the need for exciting innovations which have commercial appeal and robust research that stands up scientific scrutiny.

With that in mind, the working relationship between nutrition and healthcare professionals in the promotion, marketing and selling of your product can be considered (Part 3).

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