Some beverage brand owners have a misconception that contract manufacturers compliant with cGMPs (current good manufacturing practices) can do no wrong. On the contrary, many additional variables contribute to a potential co-packer's ability to provide and document the desired high level of performance. In "An Insider's Guide to Co-Packer Qualification," a free Report from SupplySide Beverage Insights, Matthew Martin, president of Healthy Solutions LLC, and Eric Manfull, the company's chief operating officer and senior engineer, share a detailed list of questions to aid in sorting out the options.
The wide variety of beverage processes, delivery systems, bottle shapes and primary/secondary packaging creates a nearly limitless number of variables. As such, no one co-packer will have the specialized equipment necessary to meet the needs of all customers. The bottom line is the performance of a pilot run is the only way to know for sure whether a customer's needs align with a specific co-packer's abilities. However, pilot runs are time-consuming and costly. Potential customers should do their best to pre-qualify a facility in order to increase the chances of a successful pilot. Facility pre-qualification includes several steps.
Prior to looking for a co-packer, the customer should be thoroughly organized, determining and defining any needs and requirements. This will be a great aid in the next stepsearching for facilities based on their capabilities to meet those needs. From there, a site visit should occur to make an in-depth granular examination of the quality procedures and production personnel.
Beyond exceptional process/production controls, high-level cGMP compliance and true finished-goods quality also require extensive qualitative/quantitative laboratory testing. In this discovery process, questions should be asked such as, "What makes your facility different than other cGMP manufacturers?" and "What qualitative tests are performed as part of your raw material and component approval process?".