Three main steps to choosing a co-packer

Step 1: Create a list of what you expect from a co-packer

Establish your needs in terms of:

  • product quantity and quality
  • size and type of container
  • cost per unit
  • time-frame for completion.

Write clear instructions for:

  • ingredients
  • packaging
  • regulatory compliance
  • testing of product.

List any extras that would be helpful:

  • product development
  • formula development
  • ingredient sourcing
  • business expertise.

Assess your legal and insurance needs:

  • talk to your experts.

Establish product distribution requirements:

  • warehousing
  • transportation
  • export compliance.

Step 2: Evaluate possible co-packers

Create a list of processors who can produce your product. Look for processors who:

  • produce similar products, or similar products with different seasonal requirements
  • have excess capacity
  • operate the type of specialized equipment you require
  • meet the expectations you outlined in Step 1.

Conduct a site visit with as many potential co-packers as possible. Look for:

  • cleanliness and order
  • recent inspection reports
  • quality control certifications
  • financial stability
  • willingness to meet your requirements.

Find out who else has used the co-packer, and talk to them about their experiences.

Step 3: Create a Contract

Once you've chosen a co-packer, write up a contract. It should spell out who is responsible for:

  • supplies
  • ingredients
  • processing
  • packaging
  • labelling
  • finished product.

Your contract may also need to cover:

  • record keeping
  • handling of raw product
  • inventory control
  • testing and product approvals
  • liability insurance and workers' compensation
  • documented quality control processes
  • process scheduling and delivery dates
  • payment terms
  • non-compete agreements.

Have your lawyer review the contract before signing.

For more information:
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