Whether a startup or veteran food and beverage maker, entrusting a contract manufacturer with a formulation and manufacturing process is a huge leap of faith. Food and beverage brand owners must balance the protection of the product’s integrity with trusting the expertise of a contract manufacturer. INSIDER queried consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies about their experiences working with co-packers.
INSIDER: Finding the right contract manufacturer can seem as daunting as looking for a needle in a haystack. Describe key considerations brands should keep top of mind when vetting potential partners.
Craig Lieberman, founder and president, 34 Degrees: This is most likely one of the most important business partnerships you will have, so asking essential questions upfront is paramount. Key points to consider include determining if the business goals and values are aligned; if the manufacturing agreement can be structured as win-win for both parties; and whether you will enjoy working together.
Ben Hosseinzadeh, senior vice president of operations and supply chain, Foodstirs: In addition to making sure you have an aligned vision and mission, you need to establish certain roles such as research and development (R&D), purchasing and procurement, regulatory compliance, etc. Also, every facility differs, so ensure the co-packer has the proper equipment required for your product, and it has enough output capacity and scale to meet your brand’s goals.
Anthony Spinato, president, Spinato’s Fine Foods: One of the most important factors in vetting potential co-packers for us, or any partner, is the alignment with our company’s mission and principal values. It’s important to understand the core of the people that we align with, whether they happen to be a supplier, employee or customer. We are ultimately in the business of people. You can’t overlook that factor in any business consideration.
Finding a co-packer begins with a great deal of research. Once we’ve identified a potential partner, we entrench ourselves in the “discovery” stage that typically includes interviews, site visits, etc. We want to walk away with a better understanding of whether the partner will uphold the same level of care that we do. We’ve worked with co-packers that are willing to make concessions to fulfill orders. This results in a compromised product. We aren’t willing to cut corners to meet deadlines. Our co-packers must share the same perspective.
Learn more in INSIDER’s Navigating the food and beverage co-packing landscape digital magazine.