Beginners Guide to Co-Packing

Three expert entrepreneurs share their experience with co-packing to help those new to co-packing and co-manufacturing get started.

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In this webinar, co-hosted with Hot Bread Kitchen and sponsored by Samuel Adam’s Brewing the American Dream, Carolyn O’Hare, Veronica Lahman, and Jill Donaldson shared their experience with Co-Packing to help those new to co-packing get started. 

 

Carolyn O’Hare is the COO of Tiny Organics, a quickly-growing baby and toddler food company that believes young children can and should eat real, textured food. 

Veronica Lehman is the founder of Pure Organics, which sold to Kellogg and became part of the Kashi family of brands in 2016, and is also an Emerging Brands Specialist for JPG Resources, a co-packing and co-manufacturing consulting firm.  

Jill Donaldson is the founder of Pastry Base, a vegan and gluten-free baking kit company. Jill also serves as the Director of Sales for Hatch Kitchen in Richmond, VA, an incubator space that also offers co-packing and other services for small food and beverage brands.  

 

Before meeting with a co-packer

You first need to determine if your business is ready for co-packing. Consider the following when making your decision: 

  • Can you keep up with demand? 
  • What are your business goals?  
  • What certifications do your co-manufacturers require? 
  • What are the financial implications of partnering with a co-packer? 
  • Do you have the up-front funds necessary to work with a co-packer? 
  • Are you prepared to make compromises like formulation or packaging changes? 
  • Have you thought about the co-packer’s ability to scale up?  

Once you are ready to work with a co-packer

You need to find the right fit for your business and your business goals! Some questions to think about when looking for the right co-packer include: 

  • Does the co-packer have expertise in your type of product? 
  • Does the co-packer have the ability to innovate with you as you move into new products? 
  • Is the co-packer in the correct geography for you and your product and distribution needs? 
  • Do your values align with your co-manufacturer? 
  • What does the MSA (Manufacturer Service Agreement) say and can you sign an NDA to protect your formula? 

Once you have started working with the right co-packer

How do you maintain a good business relationship with them? Some best practices are: 

  • Keeping an open line of communication with your co-packer. 
  • Recognizing when you have outgrown a co-packer. 
  • Willingness to adapt quickly as your product and your relationships grow. 
  • Understanding and communicating expectations. 

Other topics covered in the webinar include: 

  • What co-packing contracts look like and what should be included in them. 
  • When to contact a food lawyer can help you while negotiating your contract. 
  • How to protect your Intellectual Property (IP), like recipes and branding. 
  • Who writes a co-packing contract. 
  • How to align your values with your co-packer’s values. 
  • How much money you need to get started with a co-packer. 
  • Resources for finding co-packers. 

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