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  • #968461
    woly
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    Hello everyone, I have recently become very interested in the idea of starting my own business and was wondering if anyone could give me advice on the best way to connect with suppliers? How did you get in touch with your suppliers and what advice would you give to someone with little experience importing? I am interested in vitamin supplements in particular but am not sure where to look for international suppliers. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    #1033343
    Anonymous
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    Hi Woly,

    Welcome to Flying Solo, and thanks for joining in :)

    *deftly switches hats*…

    In my other (non-Flying Solo) life, I work in the natural health industry, so have some experience in the questions you’re asking.

    Before thinking about contacting suppliers, I’d suggest that the first step you should take is to investigate whether the products you want to sell can legally be sold in Australia. Vitamins and other complementary medicines are highly regulated here, and there are legal requirements regarding the ingredients that can be used, the manufacturing standards and the claims (advertising and label statements) that you can make.

    Check out the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s website (http://www.tga.gov.au/cm/cm.htm) for a start, and it would also be beneficial to contact the industry body the Complementary Healthcare Council (http://www.chc.org.au/Welcome/).

    Different criteria will need to be met depending on whether you are looking to import fully finished and packaged goods from an existing brand, or whether you are looking to import the products and sell them under a new brand of your own. Either way, I recommend getting good regulatory advice from a company or consultant that specialises in the area. Please feel free to get in touch if you want me to point you in the right direction – alternatively the Complementary Healthcare Council can recommend some of their members.

    All the best,
    Jayne

    #1033344
    woly
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    Hello Jayne,

    Thank for such a helpful and quick reply! I will definitely make sure I have sound legal advice as this advances but right now I was wondering if you had any advice about getting into contact with the actual suppliers? It seems like such a basic question but I am having difficulty finding companies that will ship supplements wholesale.

    Woly.

    #1033345
    Anonymous
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    woly, post: 40370 wrote:
    Hello Jayne,

    Thank for such a helpful and quick reply! I will definitely make sure I have sound legal advice as this advances but right now I was wondering if you had any advice about getting into contact with the actual suppliers? It seems like such a basic question but I am having difficulty finding companies that will ship supplements wholesale.

    Woly.

    Hi Woly,

    Let me say at the outset that I apologise if my reply doesn’t give you the answers you hoped for, and I’m sorry if it is demoralising for you.

    The Australian government is very committed to keeping complementary medicines industry in Australia one of the safest in the world, and consequently, this really is a very complex and highly regulated industry. That’s appropriate, since we are talking about medicinal products that people put in their mouths and swallow, and which have physical effects on their bodies in the same way that pharmaceutical medicines do.

    Unfortunately, that means that regulatory compliance is costly, complex and time consuming, and consequently that means it is very difficult to participate on a small scale.

    Having said that…

    There are a vast number of supplement companies around the world. Some of them sell finished goods (i.e. branded and packaged, like the ones you see on the shelves of health food stores and pharmacies in Australia), and others sell the supplements in bulk form (i.e. tablets or capsules by the batch – usually a minimum order would be 100,000+ tablets at a time, but many manufacturers would demand larger quantities than that), either to their own formulas or to your specifications, which you can then package yourself or (in some cases) get them to package for you. Apologies, but I’m not clear from your question at which stage of the supply chain you would see your business fitting in.

    If you are looking to get supplements made to order or buy a proprietary formula that you can label yourself, I would suggest you start with an Australian contract manufacturer rather than an off-shore one, as that would remove multiple layers of complexity for you. As you can imagine, the importing of commercial quantities of tablets and capsules from overseas is very heavily regulated (after all, a tablet of vitamin C and a tablet of ecstasy can be made to look exactly the same!).

    All of the Australian contract manufacturers are members of the CHC and you’ll be able to get in touch with them via the website I recommended earlier.

    If you are looking to import fully finished products, the best companies to contact will depend on the type of products you want to sell. Again, this is a vast market and there are hundreds of companies you could approach. One starting point might be http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/

    However, you will run into hurdles approaching any of these companies unless you can demonstrate that you can sell a very significant volume of product, and they will not likely be prepared to do business with you unless you can demonstrate that you have the regulatory compliance aspect covered.

    Bear in mind that you can’t just import supplements from the US or any other country (except NZ where exceptions apply) without setting your business up as a Sponsor with the TGA and going through the process of ‘listing’ the products as therapeutic goods (i.e. medicinal products).

    And it is probably not worth the risk of importing and selling the products illegally, because the penalties are stiff, and the scrutiny at customs would make it unlikely you’d be in business long in any case.

    So, I’m sorry, but you really do need to start with the legal piece, and then work forwards from there, because if the regulatory compliance is too complex or too costly for you, you are unlikely to be able to move forward. From that point of view, working with an Australian contract manufacturer may be more appropriate – it is definitely easier!

    My apologies again if none of that was what you wanted to hear Woly!

    Good luck with your venture – I’ll be interested to learn how you decide to proceed.
    Best wishes
    Jayne

    #1033346
    Jake@EmroyPrint
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    Whoar Jayne.

    Hats off to YOU!

    – Jake

    #1033347
    Anonymous
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    Ha ha! Thanks Jake…

    Didn’t you know I lead a double life? I’m a Gemini… if I couldn’t lead (at least) two lives at once I’d be very very bored!

    Happy afternoon to you!
    Jayne

    #1033348
    woly
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    I have to echo Emroy by saying WHOA! Thank you so much for the incredibly helpful and detailed response! You have given me a lot of starting points and I obviously had no idea how regulated the industry is. I have a lot of homework to do. Once again, Thank you! :)

    #1033349
    King
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    also WHY that industry woly?? There is sooo much negative sentiment about supplements and getting back links to any future website will be very hard (falls into the gambling types of negative sentiment).

    My suggestion is to spend the not inconsiderable time and quite a few dollars you’d need to spend with the TGA on identifying an alternative profitable niche. You will be amazed what is out there.

    This time last year we started looking at buying an existing business, and after looking at business for sale sites, we were blown away by how many people have been earning a living from amazingly niche areas. (We looked hard at several before settling on one, and so saw their accountants figures and they were overall generating the sales they said they were.)

    So maybe it would be worth casting a wider ideas net.

    #1033350
    Anonymous
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    That’s my pleasure Woly. I’ll be interested to learn what you decide to do.

    Good luck!
    Jayne

    #1033351
    Richard A
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    Lose weight now. Ask me how!

    hehehe

    Richard

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