The word “copacker” is short for “contract packer”. A contract packer is a company that manufactures and packages food for other companies. Food brands often hire copackers to produce product when building a production facility would cost too much money. Using a copacker helps to reduce the upfront costs to entrepreneurs.
Most copacking companies offer more than just manufacturing and packaging services. Many also handle ingredient acquisition, labeling, and shipping as well. Copackers have the advantage of being able to buy ingredients in bulk – leading to lower production prices for the client overall. You don’t have to worry about paying the production employees or insuring the equipment because that is all on the copacker’s side of the equation. All you have to worry about is providing the ideas and general financing.
How To Get Ready For Your Copacker Consultation
Very few copackers have the resources necessary for full formulation. Even if you have a recipe for your product on the small scale, you might face considerable difficult scaling up. The ingredients used in production batches behave much differently than the ingredients you would use your own commercial kitchen. Heating and pumping are just two differences that can have very unexpected results when applied to large-scale production.
We suggest using the services of food consulting experts with a reputable product development firm. Food scientists can undertake the development and testing necessary for large-scale production. Concept testing and prototyping, product refinement and cost speculation, shelf-life testing and sensory analysis are just a few process necessary before approving any particular recipe.
Many food science firms are also able to undertake the labeling and packaging planning that large-scale copackers are looking for. Labeling, in particular, requires exact measurements – this type of work requires a full laboratory. You may need an attorney to help you meet the legal labeling and packaging requirements in the areas you wish to sell your product.
Some food science consultants have direct access to copacking facilities while others are happy to provide recommendations. Some copackers already have food science consultants on hand. It does not matter which you consult with first unless you have a preexisting commitment to one or the other.
Bringing Your Recipe To Production
Make sure to have an attorney on board for the ride. Confidentiality agreements are very important in the product development industry. Your recipe is your intellectual property and you’ll need a competent attorney to protect it. An attorney can also help you go over the testing, labeling, and packaging plans to ensure that everything will roll off the line smoothly on the first day of production.
Many co-packing companies can help you see your product through to finish by picking up where the food scientists leave off – project management, supply chain solutions, ingredient procurement, etc. The industry connections sometimes prove to be their most valuable assets.
The co-packer will want to run a few tests and trials to make sure the formula agrees with the scale of production. You may even have a chance to taste test and make adjustments. This part of the process is the most exciting and shows how close you are to achieving your dream of entrepreneurship. You’ll be able to start making contact with vendors and advertisers.
Working with a reputable copacker can prove to be a great experience – in many cases, signing on with a copacker is the only way to bring a food idea to the grocery store shelves. Never stop asking questions. Never stop networking with other entrepreneurs in the food industry. The world of contract packing is tough to navigate for the small business owner with little production experience, but once you get started, you’ll be well on your way to that first “real” sale.
The best way to become acquainted with the business is to attend farmer’s markets, trade shows, and any events that food vendors tend to congregate. Get as familiar as possible with the language and landscape of the industry. You’ll have the confidence and tools you need before you know it.