For most of the thousands of natural ingredients that are used in the EU and US for the manufacture of cosmetic, dietary supplement, food, and/or pharmaceutical products, reliable pricing information is not readily or publicly available. Most producers and ingredient distributors do not publish their price schedules, with certain exceptions, and most prefer to prepare price quotations on a case-by-case basis in response to serious inquiries.
A side from the obvious influence of supply and demand, price quotes may be dependent on a number of other factors including the desired or specified grade and quality (e.g. pharmaceutical / pharmacopoeial-grades, food-grades, extraction-grades, cosmetic-grades, inferior grades), any unique specifications (e.g. a stock item that may require additional processing steps in order to meet a customer’s unique particle size or density requirement), the single-order quantity, the total (annual) contract quantity, the total value of business conducted with the customer over a period of time, etc., as well as other conditions such as whether the total shipment can be sent directly to the customer’s warehouse or whether it must be stored at a consolidation warehouse thus allowing the customer to take draws from the contract on a just-in-time basis or according to a predetermined future delivery schedule.
The Internet is not yet a reliable source for obtaining commercial price ideas for natural ingredients, with some rare exceptions. For example, buyers and sellers can register with online services like Greentrade.net Organic Industry Portal, available at: http://www.greentrade.net, or with Bio Ethic Organic Marketplace, available at: http://bourse.bio-ethic.com, among numerous other B2B online trade portals. In general, however, suppliers often publish only their direct-to-consumer and distributor-to-retailer pricing schedules, for example for 1-5 kg quantities, which is not useful information for the large-scale product manufacturer buyer. Some of the same suppliers that provide low quantity pricing on the Internet, however, may also offer commercial quantities, with individualized price quotes prepared upon request from serious buyers. Suppliers of bulk ingredients, in some cases, will publish online their lower quantity wholesale bulk pricing for spot buyers (e.g. 100 kg or less), but will still require negotiation for tonnage or container quantities. Examples of some American companies that post ingredient price lists online (mostly for less than 100 lb (45 kg) quantities) include:
- Asia Natural Products: http://www.drkangformulas.com/herbs.htm
- Liberty Natural Products: http://libertynatural.com
- Pacific Botanicals: http://www.pacificbotanicals.com/index.php?cid=106&
- San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company: http://www.herbspicetea.com
The Market News Service (MNS) for Medicinal Plants and Extracts is a quarterly publication available from the International Trade Centre (ITC) of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) that provides indicative pricing of selected high-demand medicinal herbs and extracts from several major world markets including North America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Northern Africa, China and India. See Appendix 3: Sources of price information, or visit the ITC website at: http://www.intracen.org/mas/mns.htm. Many of the same natural ingredients that are used in cosmetics, dietary supplements and/or pharmaceuticals are also classified, in some cases, as “spices” (e.g. cayenne fruit or ginger rhizome). Therefore indicative pricing for such natural ingredients may also be obtained from another ITC publication, the Market News Service for Spices (32 reports annually), that includes price quotes for a range of spices, herbs and seeds in selected markets in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the US. Prices listed in the aforementioned ITC publications, however, can only be considered indicative.