When you’re a business owner steering a fast-growing company, packaging is a pesky but needed task. If you put it off, you could get behind on production deadlines or send out products in sloppy packages.
The good news is that there’s an easy fix to this common dilemma: Co-packing services, short for “contract packaging.”
This industry takes care of assembly and packaging responsibilities as your company grows. A co-packer is a godsend when handling the tasks yourself becomes impractical.
Food product companies, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics companies all often use co-packing services. They give their recipes, formulas, and ingredients to their co-packagers, who assemble and package the goods.
If you’re not familiar with co-packing, worry not. Read this list of signs your business is ready to use a co-packer. It’ll help you decide whether to take the next steps towards working with a co-packaging company.
The biggest sign that your company could use co-packing services is that mass production suits your product. In fact, this is a must for typical contract packaging. There’s a basic answer to the question “What is a co packer?”. It’s a company offering regulated mass production and packaging.
If you make bread, for example, and craft each loaf by hand, co-packing isn’t the way to go. Or, consider an artisan bath bomb maker using small batches, each with different ingredients. She isn’t a good match for a co-packing company, either.
On the other hand, a breadmaker using one recipe and a bread machine to make uniform loaves could enjoy the benefits of co-packing. A co-packer would also help a fast-growing cosmetics company that rolls out uniform bath bombs with a dedicated formula.
Volume is the other basic requirement co-packing companies have. Minimum volume requirements vary from co-packer to co-packer and may depend on the kind of product you sell. In any case, orders tend to be quite large.
Making small batches isn’t worthwhile for co-packers. Using a commercial, often automated assembly line for a few items wastes time and utilities. For that reason, co-packers don’t take orders smaller than their base requirement.
You’ll know it’s time to reach out to a co-packer once you start making so many goods that you and your staff can’t handle the demand. If you can’t fulfill orders because you have to stop and make more of your product, contact a co-packing company.
Businesses that aren’t swamped with a high volume of orders but are confident that they’ll sell a lot over time can use co-packing services if their product is shelf-stable. Paying upfront for a co-packer to assemble stable goods takes packaging off the list of responsibilities for businesses of any size.
The risk you take when making this decision is that you won’t sell enough and will end up with hundreds or thousands of unused goods. Evaluate this tactic after working out projected demand.
Another sign you might want to work with a co-packer is that your packaging looks amateurish. In most cases, a business large enough to use contract packaging doesn’t want its brand to look how it did when the founder started the company.
Despite that, it’s easy to stick to the tried-and-true packaging and labeling methods you’ve always used. You have more pressing concerns than appearance as you navigate the new tasks and struggles that come with a growing business.
Yet, waiting too long to revisit the issue can harm your brand. The chances that a consumer will choose your product over a competitor’s rise when you have professional-looking packaging and labels. The best co-packer for your business will work with you to put your goods in packaging that will improve sales.
The types of companies that most often use co-packing services are also those held to the highest production standards. American food businesses and drug companies have to follow FDA regulations. Companies using hazardous and controlled substances have to follow a wide range of other safety guidelines.
Close oversight is a must for certifications, but tight quarters and a small staff don’t always improve monitoring.
Hiring professionals who can certify your products may be cost-ineffective if you have them review small batch after small batch. Working with a co-packer can make getting the certifications and labels you need easier. It’s quicker and easier to get the OK on a few large batches than it is for many small ones.
Many certifications apart from basic FDA approval are diet- and movement-based. One example is certified gluten-free products. They’re safe for people with celiac disease who can’t eat gluten, as opposed to gluten-free products for those who don’t have to worry about cross-contamination. Other certifications such as organic, vegan, vegetarian, and non-GMO certifications are often easier to manage with a co-packaging company, too.
Religious certifications are also something a co-packing company can make simpler. Halal and kosher certifications both mandate inspection of all ingredients, equipment, and processes. Co-packing companies make this easy when their facilities meet the standards.
There are two options when demand and production become overwhelming. You can either grow your business’ production power or delegate tasks to a larger company, such as a co-packer. Keeping everything in-house might seem easiest, but your view could change as you consider the specifics.
Home kitchen equipment might get a BBQ sauce company off the ground, but it won’t cut it once it starts distributing to stores nationwide. The industrial kitchen tools needed to make huge batches and the equipment for packaging the sauce are expensive and take up a lot of space. If buying the isn’t prohibitive, making room for them and paying the utility bills will be.
Growing one’s staff as business heats up is common, but hiring enough employees to handle a dramatic rise in demand often isn’t affordable. Working with a co-packing company streamlines the process and takes less investment.
After reading this article, you can decide whether your business could benefit from co-packing services.
If you want more clever ways to make your company run like a well-oiled machine, you’re on the right website. Check out our other articles to pick up more small tips that can make huge improvements in your work life.
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