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Vitaquest International: A Trusted Name in the Nutraceutical Manufacturing Space

Patrick Brueggman, CEO of Vitaquest International
Patrick Brueggman | CEO | Vitaquest

Considering the rising demand among consumers, an ascending growth of the nutraceutical industry has created several new avenues in the health and nutrition space.

According to a report by Statista, the US nutraceutical market was worth $71 billion in 2017 and is projected to reach $133 billion by 2025 – a growth rate of 46%. This means that the average household will spend $2156 on health supplements every year over the next ten years, about 18% more than they did last year ($1806).

Companies operating in the nutraceutical market are creating products that can improve and even enhance lives. And through this edition, we set out to seek the 10 most innovative companies in the nutraceutical industry.

In this quest, we came across one such prominent company, Vitaquest International, an industry-leading development and commercialization partner for consumer products, featuring a broad array of innovative solutions in nutraceutical and functional foods.

“You may not have heard of Vitaquest International – but every day you see the products we make on the shelves of  your local pharmacy, health food store and online on sports nutrition websites, physician websites, and more,” says Patrick Brueggman, the President and CEO

Today, Vitaquest creates and produces more than 4,000 custom products for more than 500 brands in over 75 countries, making it one of the world’s leading companies in delivering health and wellness products to people of all ages and walks of life.

As a company, Vitaquest’s mission is to deliver what’s next in supplements and functional foods – through innovation and flawless execution. “We’re passionate about improving people’s health,” says Brueggman.

One of the keys to Vitaquest’s growth and success is that it doesn’t cut corners, and it does things the way regulators and its customers expect – from the high-quality raw ingredients it sources through strict manufacturing controls and quality testing.

“At Vitaquest, we probably do more quality testing than any similar company in our industry. Our commitment to doing things the right way also means we conduct all these steps in our own facilities – whereas many companies use third parties for testing and other manufacturing steps,” adds Brueggman.

“We also pride ourselves on innovation. We continually update our manufacturing capability to the state-of-the-art and have been at the forefront of developing new product concepts and innovative delivery systems for health-promoting formulations,” says the Vitaquest President and CEO.

These commitments to quality and innovation have fuelled the company’s growth over the last four decades to the point where today, it is one of the largest supplement and functional food contract manufacturers in the industry.

Excellence that Redefines Benchmarks

Talking about the aspects that give Vitaquest a leading edge over its competition, Brueggman says, “One thing our customers are excited about is the new 200,000 square foot former Pfizer facility we inaugurated in early 2021. By adding an additional 200,000 square feet and expanding our total footprint to 500,000 square feet, it was the most significant investment in the history of our company. When we were done, we had increased our manufacturing, warehousing, product development, and laboratory space by over 50%.”

For Vitaquest’s customers, this expansion means support and reliability during uncertain times. It means the company’s facilities are among the most modern in the industry. And it means that it can do more for them than it has ever before.

Two other business initiatives help Vitaquest stand out – the TotalQ™ Commitment to Quality and the VQ Solutions™ third-party logistics capability.

TotalQ isn’t just about cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations) and certifications; TotalQ permeates every aspect of Vitaquest’s business. “Our people are passionate about ingredient sourcing, manufacturing to exacting specifications and testing….testing….testing, with a goal of delivering to our customers—and the consumer—the safest, most efficacious products on the market,” Brueggman expresses.

VQ Solutions is a turnkey warehousing and fulfillment option that starts from the manufacturing floor and ends at the customer location. It starts with the company’s large, modern, centrally located warehouse facility in West Caldwell, NJ.

This facility was designed for food-grade storage – and only houses nutraceutical products. Customer products aren’t stored next to tires, books, and baby carriages. This temperature-controlled facility is GMP certified, FDA-compliant, and has FSSC2000 certification, the highest international food safety certification level.

The Vitaquest team has a keen focus on innovation and how it can help customers and improve the world. This is proven by the fact that it was the first nutraceutical company to secure FSSC22000 certification.

Vitaquest is also committed to environmental sustainability. It only works with ingredient suppliers who care about environmental stewardship, sustainable harvesting, and fair trade. The company recently installed a solar energy system at its corporate headquarters that produces enough energy to power more than 35 average-sized residential homes every year.

“We are also immensely proud of our two-decade association and support of the Vitamin Angels project, which helps at-risk populations around the world by giving them access to lifesaving and life-changing vitamins and mineral supplements free-of-charge,” says Brueggman.

Exemplary Expertise

Prior to joining Vitaquest, Patrick Brueggman spent his career in a broad range of roles in the specialty chemical and ingredients industries, with executive roles at Vantage, Ashland, Hercules, and General Electric.

“This experience was concentrated in the latter years in pharmaceutical, food, and personal care related organizations – which all touch what we do here at Vitaquest,” says Brueggman.

“I’m a technical/engineering person by training. My resume says I have deep multi-functional experience, including commercial development, Six Sigma process focus, and innovation for growth – which means I wore a lot of different hats at a lot of big companies coming up.

“When I got here, I found a high-achieving culture with some of the best people in the industry. What we’ve been able to do since then is more of what we’re good at. We’ve streamlined and grown our manufacturing capability; we’ve developed new capabilities for our customers, and we’ve grown closer to those customers through a focus on their needs. Finally, I think what we’ve been able to do in the last few years is communicate the type of value that we bring to the table to the industry at large,” he adds.

We asked Brueggman what his advice would be to entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into the nutraceuticals manufacturing market, to which he says, “If you are asking whether I’d suggest that aspiring entrepreneurs venture into the nutraceuticals manufacturing market, I wouldn’t. And, it’s not just because we don’t want the competition. The costs, regulatory requirements, and expertise associated with manufacturing for this market mean you just don’t ‘jump in.’ In fact, our job is becoming tougher than ever, and contract manufacturers who are not investing and innovating will see less demand for their services in the future.

“Now, if you’re asking whether I would suggest aspiring entrepreneurs get into bringing innovative supplement or food ideas to market, I’d say an emphatic ‘yes.’ Smaller companies are making an enormous impact on innovation in our industry – which is changing faster than ever before. Some of the biggest brands on the market weren’t here three years ago. And the industry as a whole is growing rapidly.

“At Vitaquest, we work with a number of entrepreneurs, and we are anxious to build more new relationships.

“Once you have a great idea for a new product, one of the early stumbling blocks many smaller companies face is that they are unfamiliar with the manufacturing process. That is why a contract manufacturer like Vitaquest can be so important.

“If you are working with a contract manufacturer, one of the first things you need to do is visit their facility to see what is happening there. How much of your product will they make in-house, and what steps will they outsource? This affects quality control and delivery speed. Do they follow cGMP manufacturing processes? If not, there is a chance that you will have quality issues or possibly a run-in with the FDA. Product recalls can destroy a brand that people have worked hard to build. This is a risk you do not have to take,” states Brueggman.

Overcoming Adversities

When asked about the challenges that Vitaquest came across during the pandemic, Brueggman said, “Looking at Vitaquest and the industry, sales of nutraceuticals have increased dramatically during the pandemic, as consumers started taking a more proactive approach to their health and wellness.

“We are seeing a younger demographic embrace self-care and regularly choosing nutraceuticals in big numbers for the first time. At Vitaquest, we continue to experience growth as the pandemic drags on, and we expect that will continue once the pandemic starts to subside because these new customers have now experienced the benefits that nutraceuticals provide. It’s an unhappy reason that has created this growth but could benefit people in the long run.

“With this growth, the major challenge faced by our industry—and in fact across most businesses in the USA—is a qualified labor shortage. Added to that, we are facing the logistic and supply chain challenges that are plaguing all industries.

“From an industry perspective, the supply chain and logistical challenges introduced by the pandemic may force some smaller companies to shutter. Fortunately, as a larger organization, we are able to overcome the labor challenges, and our long-term supply partnerships have kept the flow of raw materials coming,” he added.

Venturing towards New Horizons

We asked Brueggman regarding his vision for scaling Vitaquest’s operations and offerings in 2021, to which he said, “We are already scaling our company’s offerings, as mentioned with the new manufacturing facility we opened in Parsippany earlier this year. As the year progresses, we are seeing better service and an intriguing mix of new products. We have grown to become the industry’s leading 100-percent custom contract manufacturer of solid and powdered dose supplements.

“In addition to the entrepreneurial companies I discussed, we have global pharmaceutical and CPG companies that collaborate with us because we are able to scale our operations to serve any size customer and to fill any size order – internationally.

“With initiatives like VQ Solutions, we are truly a one-stop-shop for large and small clients. Some of our customers come to us with little or no industry experience, but they have a great idea that needs to be developed into a winning product. Other clients are established brands with existing products and formulas that they want us to produce with excellence. Still, others might be looking for us to help them to imagine, create and develop new SKUs or line extensions.

“Regardless of the need, Vitaquest has the market insight, innovative spirit, and breadth of capability to help deliver our customers’ products to market. A customer may not need all the services we provide, but they are always available to help drive innovation, quality, and marketability in the products we manufacture,” concludes Brueggman.



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