November 29, 2018

Vetting a Co-Packer

Thank you to FMI Mentor, Patrick N from New Point Marketing for sharing this excellent Workshop Q &A on

Co-Packer Start-Up Costs & Lead Times 

Dive into the Q & A and you will gain insights great questions:

  • As a small producer, is there anything you can do to keep from being consistently bumped to the end of the co-packer production queue?
  • What should I expect in terms of cost and lead times when working with a co-packer?

See the full Workshop Q & A here.

In the Emerge community, we have brands that are growing production at a rate that they need to leave a shared kitchen and a co-packer relationship is a viable option. We also have brands that choose to invest in their own production facility. We feel that only the brand will know the answer as you what is the right approach at the current stage of their business and based on your focus and expertise.

Once you know you want to explore finding a co-packer, the size and location of your options can be a daunting task. Based on your current distribution and your growth projections, you really need to explore all your options. Then once you have narrowed down your options, you really have to dive into the details. Details include production timelines, ingredient storage, packaging options, labeling, finished product storage, transportation and of course, food safety protocols.

If you are working with a co-packer to create your products, there are many aspects to a successful relationship. One aspect that you need is a full understanding of your co-packers food safety commitment, practices and compliance. You should require your co-packer to be certified to one of the GFSI benchmarked certification programs. For SQF Certification, here is the online SQF company certified public search tool.  Senior site management needs to ensure the training needs of the site are resourced, implemented and meet the required competencies to carry out those functions affecting the legality and safety of food products.

Tips for you as your work with your co-packer regarding food safety:

  1. Ask to see the specific food safety system for the development, implementation and maintenance of the food safety plans and associated tasks. You need to have a working knowledge of these processes and plans and potential food safety risks.
  2. Ask that your specific instructions for handling your ingredients or products are documented.
  3. Make sure work instructions are known, updated and applied by personnel conducting food safety tasks.

Here are some other helpful articles in exploring co-packer options.

The FMI Emerge program and community is chock full of resources for you. Join in!