What Is a Co-Packer and Why You Should Use One

It’s time to take those brownie bites you’ve been selling at the local farmer’s market to the next level. 

While it’s been fun making a mess every weekend in the kitchen, meeting and greeting all these new customers, and slapping stickers on the brown paper bags, a major retailer has reached out and wants to feature your treats in their stores – all four hundred locations. 

The Million Dollar Question is: how can a small business go from packing by hand scale to such a massive level fast? 

This is where a co-packer comes in to help. A co-packer has the infrastructure you don’t – a manufacturing facility, the equipment, and the skilled staff. 

Because of this, a contract manufacturer can help deliver products without investing in a massive piece of overhead. If you’re asking: do I need a co-packer? At this level, probably. 

How Does a Co-packer Work?

A good co-packer knows how to move business at the speed of just that, business. Instead of worrying about one-to-one orders, a co-packing facility knows how to maximize time, money, and effort, so a small to medium-sized business can expect a maximized return on their investment of choosing to scale. 

Just for clarity’s sake, a co-packer can mean a few things: 

  • Contract Manufacturer: a food production facility that produces products on contract for other brands to the exact brand-owned formula while also packaging them. A private label manufacturer will create its own flavors on-site and sell those products to a brand.
  • Contract Packager: a manufacturer that packages finished products, receives bulk products and packages them to brand specifications. 

Why You Should Use a Co-packer

It’s not about what a co-packer is but think more about how they can transform a business model. A co-packer helps brands ramp up volume quickly so that smaller companies can achieve their desired business goals. 

The pros are handling production so the company can focus on promotion and strategy. Because processes are streamlined, costs are lower, and production moves much faster. Another perk is that many of these vendors have product development and R&D teams to help expand SKUs.

Finding the right co-packer takes work and shouldn’t be something that happens overnight. A co-packer should come in when the business has been established, and there is a financial opportunity to scale.

Top Benefits of a Co-packer 

Find a co-packer that will show up for you when you need them. Be wary of going with a company that’s too big, or you’ll risk being lost in the shuffle, and you don’t want to be an afterthought if there are orders to fill. There are some things brands should consider when looking for a co-packer, along with essential questions to ask: 

  • What are the base terms and conditions of the agreement?
  • Can they scale alongside your brand – Will they be able to keep up five years from now?
  • Are they communicative? 
  • And will they show you samples of their work? 
  • Can you tour their facilities to see how their work is performed?

What To Look for in a Co-packer

A co-packer focuses on the logistics, supply chain, and fulfillment, which leaves the brand zeroing in on growing the business. For a young company, this can be a game-changer. 

Co-packers know how to work with clients of every size, and they’re comfortable with high production rates, and because of that, they know how to cut costs to ensure profitability. 

Packaging, fulfillment, and high-volume assembly isn’t a skill learned overnight. A good co-packer knows how to navigate business demands and have their processes ironed out, which gets you running in days, not months. And they have warehouse space, which offers a secure and safe spot for the product to be housed. 

How to use a Co-packer

Every customer scenario is different, and a co-packer knows how to manage custom solutions that speak to a brand’s specific needs. Whether that’s primary, secondary, or tertiary packaging, they’ll provide your product with a custom solution and stand out in the marketplace. And this even speaks to rebranding or a custom packaging solution that matches customer interest. 

Speaking of demand and interest, an intelligent Co-Packer knows how to make the right choices to improve efficiencies to sell more and meet the market – like performing a packaging analysis that can potentially save tons of money due to removing as much possible air from the packaging, so you’re not paying for literal air. 

Consider the short-term against the long-term – processes take time and money, and sometimes, it’s better to work within a system that supports recurring needs with market demands in mind and an experienced team that can set you up for success. 

If you’re curious to learn more about co-packing and if ePac can help your business, we’d love to talk. We’ve helped large and small businesses realize their goals and then some. 

Let’s talk.