Top 5 things considering when selecting a co-packer
Start by assessing what you need. Co-packers come in many shapes, sizes, and breadth of services offered. Are you looking for a turn-key partner, who can also source your ingredients, warehouse and ship your products, or strictly a manufacturer? Consider the background and expertise of your own team. If they are all sales and marketing expertise, you may benefit from having more of a turn-key partner. If you can manage various aspects (supply chain, logistics), there may be a strategic advantage to keeping these roles in-house, such as lower cost.
Safety and Quality Record
In addition to evaluating the cleanliness and organization of potential co-packers during a site visit, we suggest visiting their facilities.
Determine the level of communication and opportunities to collaboratively problem solve with each co-packer. Seek to understand what your process will look like, the team members involved, line capacity, cost drivers and cost sharing opportunities. Generally speaking, the more transparent a co-packer is, the more trust will likely develop between partners. Considering this could be your brand’s most important partnership, that trust factor is critical.
Being physically close to your co-packer means you can spend more time with them, build that trust, train and motivate the crews, and have greater mindshare. A proximity of manufacturing to your retailers is also critical (see our post about transportation and warehousing ). If you are not located near your customers, it’s important to weigh the benefits and costs of the manufacturing location.
Don’t be afraid to ask co-packers for a list of current clients and contact them, in particular, those clients that are similar in size to you. Ask those clients about their experiences with the co-packer in areas like problem resolution, decision making, and communication.