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  • Contract manufacturer issue

    Posted by RKB on September 11, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    My business partner and I are working with a contract manufacturer for the first time, private labeling a product. We got the first batch of our product in after working through test batches and resolving issues there, and the product batch is severely under spec (solid soap bars). Most (not all) are not the size or weight ordered.

    Can any of you who have either been a contract manufacturer or worked with them give me some insight? My perspective on this is that they are responsible for providing what we ordered. My partner seems to think that they don’t have to fix it or won’t.


    mikethair replied 5 months, 2 weeks ago 6 Members · 6 Replies
  • 6 Replies
  • PhilGeis

    September 12, 2023 at 5:29 am

    It looks like the CM needs help to meet your specs. Either you/your partner invest expertise or find a capable CM. I’d not waste much time in addressing the “or”.

  • KMRCSMiami

    September 12, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    Always, always, always read the agreement. In the agreement there should be language defining the scope of work, etc. If in the agreement it lists those specifications that you want- hold them accountable to it. If in an email it states they can meet that specification- hold them accountable.

    I dont know the scope of your work, but you state “private label”. This is 100% off-the-shelf (white label, but some call it private label as well) or sometimes off-the-shelf with TINY changes to the formula. These issues that you list may simply be the formula itself, may hint at inconsistent manufacturing procedures or it may be changes that occurred in response to your required customizations. Because I do not know the changes you requested- I dont know.

    Don’t be afraid to speak to your contract manufacturer. They can educate you on why this is happening, the limitations of your requests, etc. If they do not wish to communicate with you, walk away.

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by  KMRCSMiami.
  • Nathan

    September 12, 2023 at 2:04 pm

    The contract between you and the manufacturer needs to be viewed. Does it state they are allowed to send out a product that is out of spec?

    My point of view (take it with a grain of salt):

    Lab batches versus production is going to be different no matter what. Lab work is a more controlled environment. If there is a colorant in the bar, there should be a Pantone range that is preapproved on the spec sheet. This makes life easier in production. The only real-time this is a problem is when you have natural colorant. Sometimes, the color hue is different from supplier batches (this is what the contract manufacturer receives)

    What is the fill weight specified on the product? Does it meet the claim weight that is on the packaging?

    Sometimes, the product spec sheet will have a fill weight that is too narrow, and it is very hard for production to meet the requirements. It should be wide enough so production can meet the specifications.

    If the bars do not meet the fill weight claim, production should rework the soap bars to meet the claim weight.

  • mikethair

    September 12, 2023 at 4:48 pm

    Soap bar specs should be clearly specified in the agreement you have signed with the Contact Manufacturer. Also, in the contact there should be details on the samples, including weight and sizes, provided before full production begins.

    I was the co-founder of a company producing soap bars for brands globally. And it is in a win-win to get these specs correct. It worked for us over 15 years.

  • ozgirl

    September 12, 2023 at 5:39 pm

    What method was used for making the soap bars. It is my understanding there is significant water loss during the curing process for cold process soap manufacture.

    It is possible that the bars were originally in specification when they were first cut but have lost water over time and are now out of specification.

    In any case, if your agreement was for a certain specification and the bars are out of specification then (depending on your contract terms) they really should be responsible for replacing the bars.

  • mikethair

    September 12, 2023 at 7:43 pm

    Yes indeed, significant water is lost during the curing process.

    We produced 1,000’s of private label soap bars during 2009 - 2023 for various brands globally. Our approach was to use a purpose-built cure room with a controlled temperature and relative humidity.

    The temperature and relative humidity was recorded daily by our QC Manager. And with such strict control we were able to control the finished size and weight of the cold process soap bars we manufactured. Thus, every batch was within the specs agreed with customer.

    I should also mention that before signing any agreement, we produced test bars for the customer.

    Kind regards,

    Dr Mike Thair

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