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What is Private Labeling and Why You Should Care

Private label supplements are quite popular these days, though most consumers aren’t aware of private labeling and how it works. Due to the in explicit nature of private label supplements, a keen insight into how private labeling works is essential for deciphering which products contain a private label formula and which contain a unique custom formula.

So, how does private labeling work? What are the pro and cons of private label supplements? Read on to learn more about private labeling and how it impacts supplement businesses and supplement consumers.

What is Private Labeling?

At it’s most basic, private labeling is a product development tactic that companies may use to create their own line of products with a generic (or “in-house”) formula. As such, private labeling is abundant in the dietary supplement niche, as well as many other products geared towards human health and well-being.

But why do companies use private label formulas instead of their own proprietary blend of ingredients?

Well, there are several reasons that supplement companies might choose to private label their products.

For one, private label supplements are less costly than having a supplement manufacturer create your own unique formula. This is because private label manufacturers already have a preset formula that they make for a multitude of supplement companies, meaning they can buy large quantities of the raw materials at a fraction of the cost from distributors; then, the private label manufacturer can “flip” those raw materials by re-selling their in-house/generic formula to various brands.

So, private labeling is when a supplement company pays a manufacturer to use a predetermined formula. Consequently, many supplement companies that use private label formulas have the exact same formulas for their pre-workout powders, protein powders, multivitamins, and so on.

The catch is that these companies don’t have to disclose that they use a private label formula in their products. They also have free reign to create a unique label design, making it quite tricky to spot a private label formula without directly comparing the ingredient panel of different products. Even if you compare two supplements with identical formulas, it’s possible they aren’t privately labeled. (Though, there’s a good chance they are.)

Thankfully, many supplement companies are opting to be more transparent about what goes into their products. That’s a change that both supplement brand owners and supplement consumers can be excited about.

Proprietary Blends and Private Labeling

Private label supplements become nearly impossible to distinguish from custom-made formulas when they involve proprietary blends.

What the heck is a proprietary blend, you ask?

In short, a proprietary blend is a mixture of ingredients in undisclosed quantities. For example, many pre-workout supplements feature proprietary blends under the guise of a clever name on the ingredient panel, like “Mental Performance Blend” or “Blood Flow Augmentation Blend”.

If you look closely under the name of the proprietary blend, there are usually tens of ingredients listed but no specified dosages for any of them. Hence, the proprietary nature of these blends.

However, proprietary blends are required to disclose one quantity – the total amount of the entire blend. Look to the right of the name of the proprietary blend on the supplement facts panel and you will see the dosage for all of the ingredients in the blend combined.

About the only thing you can ascertain regarding individual ingredients is their relative abundance in the proprietary blend since the Food and Drug Administration requires ingredients to be listed in descending order, from greatest to least amounts. Thus, if you see caffeine listed as the first ingredient and green tea extract listed as the last ingredient in a proprietary blend, then the former has the highest dose of all the ingredients in the blend and the latter has the lowest dose.

Third-Party Lab Testing Private Label Supplements

The major advantage of proprietary blends is that it restricts the precise formula from competitor brands, making it harder for them to copy another brand’s formula. Yet, that also lends itself to the disadvantage of limiting the formula from consumers.

This is all the more reason to have independent third-party lab testing done on private label supplements. Tru 3rd Certified offers comprehensive batch testing  to assure both brand owners and consumers that the ingredients on a supplement label are actually in the product in appropriate amounts (and that there’s nothing in the product that shouldn’t be).

The Future of Private Label Supplements and Proprietary Blends

It is important to know that in and of itself, private label supplements are not inherently bad. The concern with private labeling is that it allows sellers with little to no nutritional supplement experience the ability to sell supplements. Many of these sellers “learn on the job”, but at what (who’s) risk?

Private label supplements will stick around for quite some time, and as consumers there simply is no easy way to distinguish one from another. With the ease of access to and little regulations of private label supplements, virtually anyone can start their “own” supplement line without much requisite experience or knowledge pertaining to human health and performance. This is all the more reason to be judicious about reading supplement ingredient panels and understanding what the terminology means.

Thankfully, many supplement companies are opting to be more transparent about what goes into their products. That’s a change that both supplement brand owners and supplement consumers can be excited about.

At the end of the day, everybody wins if a supplement brand is transparent about the quality and content of their products and they commit to batch by batch testing by an independent third-party lab.

This will help build rapport and confidence with consumers, especially as the general population becomes more educated about what supplements are effective and which are lacking conclusive evidence.