Joel Goldstein is the President of Mr. Checkout Distributors.
When it comes to finding a reliable co-packer for your particular product line, it’s important to understand the process as a whole in order to better be able to compare all of your different options. Some of these options may include but are not necessarily limited to determining the best facilities, capabilities and locations. It’s in your best interest to make sure that you are selecting a partner that can meet your needs and also has the desire to work alongside you in order to ensure business growth. So, how can you be sure that you are choosing the best co-packer to fit your needs? I’ve compiled some of the best tips found in my experience to assist you as you choose the best co-packing partner to fit your personalized needs.
The first thing to do is compare the process of the co-packer you are considering using in order to assess your own personalized needs. All co-packers have varying areas of expertise and that is precisely why you need to consider a multitude of different options in order to choose which one is going to be the best fit. Some questions to consider: Are you seeking a turn-key partner who is able to source all of the supplies you need, including offering warehousing solutions and also product distribution? What are the strengths of your team? For instance, do you have dependable marketing and sales reps? If so, you may opt to use a turn-key co-packer. If you can handle the supply and distribution on your own, you may want to select a co-packer who can fill in the voids that you just can’t take on.
History And Reputation
Make sure that you thoroughly put forth research on any and all of the co-packers you are considering. Find out how long they have been in operation and check into their expertise levels. Ask around within your network to see what experience they have had with the co-packers they have worked with in the past to find out which ones they recommend and which ones they don’t. Do some research on their team as well, including the leaders of the company and their expertise within the industry.
Quality And Safety
Before you narrow down your options and finalize a choice for a co-packer, you also need to be sure that you put forth a bit of research regarding the quality and safety programs that they have successfully established. You may want to ask the following questions in order to be able to understand their procedures:
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• Are quality inspections conducted on a regular basis?
• Do they have hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) plans set in place?
• What are the employee safety policies and procedures that are in place?
• Are their facilities audited? How often?
All of these questions are incredibly important because you are going to want to ensure that the co-packer that you choose puts quality and safety as their first priority.
It is vitally important that you ensure that the co-packers’ facilities are properly certified. What certifications they need is largely dependent upon the types of products they handle. When a co-packer is able to show that they have all of the required current certifications, it goes to prove that they have taken all of the necessary steps required to be able to develop a reliable quality-control system through the facility, while also going on to nurture responsible behaviors and attitudes amongst their employees. Some of the certifications that may be required are:
• HACCP, British Retail Consortium (BRC) and American Institute of Baking (AIB) certifications.
• Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) compliance.
• Segregated nut-free and nut zones.
Tour A Potential Facility
The best way to ensure that the co-packer you are considering has the proper equipment and teams in place is to pay a visit to their facility. When you tour the facility, you will be able to see their entire process from start to finish to determine if their processing and handling process is going to be a good fit for your needs. On your tour, make sure to keep a look-out for the following:
Cleanliness: Analyze the overall cleanliness of the facility’s machines as well as the employee’s attire.
Safety: Floors must be kept clean and clear, while fire exits also need to be kept free of any obstacles.
Organization: Ensure that storage racks are well-organized, stray skids are kept in a designated area and the environment is kept at a proper temperature for the product.
Employee Satisfaction: Speak to some of the employees to ask how long they have worked for the company and find out what they like the most about the position they are in. Employee satisfaction can say a lot about the company.
To sum it all up, the best way to find a good co-packer is to simply keep the lines of communication open and always put forth some research on who they are, why they are great and what sets them apart from the competition. It is most certainly better to be safe than sorry when it comes down to making the final selection about choosing who will work alongside you in order to co-pack your product.