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Our 2021 Food and Beverage Co-packing Guide and Directory

In an ideal scenario, your co-packer will be a long-term partner as your business grows, so it’s important to remember that your business’ success is their success and vice versa.

Our 2021 Food and Beverage Co-packing Guide and Directory

Finding the right co-packer for your food and beverage company is a little like a musician seeking out a producer to record an album. The songs are written, the melodies are learned, and you have your vision for the final product. As you head into the studio, a producer can bring their deep knowledge of the industry to select the right studio musicians and engineers to mix and master your record. Selecting a producer who acts as a partner and understands your artistry and vision is an important step and should not be rushed. A producer who is an industry “best” may not be a fit for your unique product. 

When selecting your producer, or departing from the metaphor, your co-packer, you want to ask lots of questions. Some of these questions are for you and your team to consider as you prepare to engage co-packers. And of course, you will have questions for your prospective co-packers. In an ideal scenario, your co-packer will be a long-term partner as your business grows, so it’s important to remember that your business’ success is their success and vice versa. 

Questions to ask yourself

Are we ready to scale production of our product? A co-packer can free your team to scale your marketing and sales efforts but you don’t want to jump in too deep right away. What is the order size that makes sense for your projected growth? This can help guide you in your search by eliminating co-packers that have minimum order quantities larger than would be proven  for your growth model. 

Am I prepared for the upfront costs? Co-packers can often be a significant cost-saving decision in the long run, but the upfront costs and short-term increase in expenses needs to be considered. Is your company prepared for this? How consistently is demand for your product exceeding supply? 

Where do our customers live? Though most co-packers will ship products long distances, you have to account for this in your planning. If most of your customers are based in New England and your projected plans for growth don’t include a west coast marketing plan for five years, you may not want to select a co-packer in California. The distance could hinder your ability to be engaged in the process since you won’t be able to visit the facilities regularly, shipping will take longer and may include delays (the pandemic has taught us to expect the unexpected), and the carbon footprint involved in the shipping is an important factor, especially if your brand is sustainability focused. Some co-packers have facilities in different areas of the country, which may be beneficial for long-term growth. 

How will my recipe scale? If you’re moving from small batch to large batch production, you may have to adjust your recipe. Knowing which processes or ingredients that may be challenging to scale will make you more informed as you go into conversations with co-packers about production. If you are looking for support in recipe development, there are also co-packers that offer those services.

Questions to ask the co-packer

What kind of certifications can the co-packer help you obtain?  Is it important that your product be certified organic or kosher? Does the co-packer have access to market research about the certifications they offer? 

What are the add-on services the co-packer offers? R&D capabilities, food science consulting, direct customer-shipping, product storage, and labeling are all examples of services that a co-packer may offer. Even if you don’t need these services immediately, you may want to look down the line and predict which services will benefit your company.

What prior experience does the co-packer have with products similar to your product? Asking this be a great segue into requesting references from current clients- a must-do for any co-packer you are seriously considering. 

Does the co-packer offer small quantity test runs? Most do, but it’s best to confirm this upfront. You want to be as involved as you can in the early establishment of this partnership and the production of your product. We recommend requesting a tour of the plant so you can assess the facilities yourself, looking out for the level of cleanliness and how responsive the co-packer is to your questions. This is a good way to detect early red flags. A good co-packer will go through all the details of the process with you and will understand the importance of communications in the building of this partnership. 

VIEW OUR DIRECTORY OF FOOD & BEVERAGE CO-PACKERS

Finding the right co-packer for your food and beverage company is a little like a musician seeking out a producer to record an album. The songs are written, the melodies are learned, and you have your vision for the final product. As you head into the studio, a producer can bring their deep knowledge of the industry to select the right studio musicians and engineers to mix and master your record. Selecting a producer who acts as a partner and understands your artistry and vision is an important step and should not be rushed. A producer who is an industry “best” may not be a fit for your unique product. 

When selecting your producer, or departing from the metaphor, your co-packer, you want to ask lots of questions. Some of these questions are for you and your team to consider as you prepare to engage co-packers. And of course, you will have questions for your prospective co-packers. In an ideal scenario, your co-packer will be a long-term partner as your business grows, so it’s important to remember that your business’ success is their success and vice versa. 

Questions to ask yourself

Are we ready to scale production of our product? A co-packer can free your team to scale your marketing and sales efforts but you don’t want to jump in too deep right away. What is the order size that makes sense for your projected growth? This can help guide you in your search by eliminating co-packers that have minimum order quantities larger than would be proven  for your growth model. 

Am I prepared for the upfront costs? Co-packers can often be a significant cost-saving decision in the long run, but the upfront costs and short-term increase in expenses needs to be considered. Is your company prepared for this? How consistently is demand for your product exceeding supply? 

Where do our customers live? Though most co-packers will ship products long distances, you have to account for this in your planning. If most of your customers are based in New England and your projected plans for growth don’t include a west coast marketing plan for five years, you may not want to select a co-packer in California. The distance could hinder your ability to be engaged in the process since you won’t be able to visit the facilities regularly, shipping will take longer and may include delays (the pandemic has taught us to expect the unexpected), and the carbon footprint involved in the shipping is an important factor, especially if your brand is sustainability focused. Some co-packers have facilities in different areas of the country, which may be beneficial for long-term growth. 

How will my recipe scale? If you’re moving from small batch to large batch production, you may have to adjust your recipe. Knowing which processes or ingredients that may be challenging to scale will make you more informed as you go into conversations with co-packers about production. If you are looking for support in recipe development, there are also co-packers that offer those services.

Questions to ask the co-packer

What kind of certifications can the co-packer help you obtain?  Is it important that your product be certified organic or kosher? Does the co-packer have access to market research about the certifications they offer? 

What are the add-on services the co-packer offers? R&D capabilities, food science consulting, direct customer-shipping, product storage, and labeling are all examples of services that a co-packer may offer. Even if you don’t need these services immediately, you may want to look down the line and predict which services will benefit your company.

What prior experience does the co-packer have with products similar to your product? Asking this be a great segue into requesting references from current clients- a must-do for any co-packer you are seriously considering. 

Does the co-packer offer small quantity test runs? Most do, but it’s best to confirm this upfront. You want to be as involved as you can in the early establishment of this partnership and the production of your product. We recommend requesting a tour of the plant so you can assess the facilities yourself, looking out for the level of cleanliness and how responsive the co-packer is to your questions. This is a good way to detect early red flags. A good co-packer will go through all the details of the process with you and will understand the importance of communications in the building of this partnership. 

VIEW OUR DIRECTORY OF FOOD & BEVERAGE CO-PACKERS

Finding the right co-packer for your food and beverage company is a little like a musician seeking out a producer to record an album. The songs are written, the melodies are learned, and you have your vision for the final product. As you head into the studio, a producer can bring their deep knowledge of the industry to select the right studio musicians and engineers to mix and master your record. Selecting a producer who acts as a partner and understands your artistry and vision is an important step and should not be rushed. A producer who is an industry “best” may not be a fit for your unique product. 

When selecting your producer, or departing from the metaphor, your co-packer, you want to ask lots of questions. Some of these questions are for you and your team to consider as you prepare to engage co-packers. And of course, you will have questions for your prospective co-packers. In an ideal scenario, your co-packer will be a long-term partner as your business grows, so it’s important to remember that your business’ success is their success and vice versa. 

Questions to ask yourself

Are we ready to scale production of our product? A co-packer can free your team to scale your marketing and sales efforts but you don’t want to jump in too deep right away. What is the order size that makes sense for your projected growth? This can help guide you in your search by eliminating co-packers that have minimum order quantities larger than would be proven  for your growth model. 

Am I prepared for the upfront costs? Co-packers can often be a significant cost-saving decision in the long run, but the upfront costs and short-term increase in expenses needs to be considered. Is your company prepared for this? How consistently is demand for your product exceeding supply? 

Where do our customers live? Though most co-packers will ship products long distances, you have to account for this in your planning. If most of your customers are based in New England and your projected plans for growth don’t include a west coast marketing plan for five years, you may not want to select a co-packer in California. The distance could hinder your ability to be engaged in the process since you won’t be able to visit the facilities regularly, shipping will take longer and may include delays (the pandemic has taught us to expect the unexpected), and the carbon footprint involved in the shipping is an important factor, especially if your brand is sustainability focused. Some co-packers have facilities in different areas of the country, which may be beneficial for long-term growth. 

How will my recipe scale? If you’re moving from small batch to large batch production, you may have to adjust your recipe. Knowing which processes or ingredients that may be challenging to scale will make you more informed as you go into conversations with co-packers about production. If you are looking for support in recipe development, there are also co-packers that offer those services.

Questions to ask the co-packer

What kind of certifications can the co-packer help you obtain?  Is it important that your product be certified organic or kosher? Does the co-packer have access to market research about the certifications they offer? 

What are the add-on services the co-packer offers? R&D capabilities, food science consulting, direct customer-shipping, product storage, and labeling are all examples of services that a co-packer may offer. Even if you don’t need these services immediately, you may want to look down the line and predict which services will benefit your company.

What prior experience does the co-packer have with products similar to your product? Asking this be a great segue into requesting references from current clients- a must-do for any co-packer you are seriously considering. 

Does the co-packer offer small quantity test runs? Most do, but it’s best to confirm this upfront. You want to be as involved as you can in the early establishment of this partnership and the production of your product. We recommend requesting a tour of the plant so you can assess the facilities yourself, looking out for the level of cleanliness and how responsive the co-packer is to your questions. This is a good way to detect early red flags. A good co-packer will go through all the details of the process with you and will understand the importance of communications in the building of this partnership. 

VIEW OUR DIRECTORY OF FOOD & BEVERAGE CO-PACKERS

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