Michael Adams Green Mountain Mustard and Gredio

Michael Adams, Owner
Green Mountain Mustard & Gredio

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How to establish a better relationship with your co-packer

Relationship with co-packer

Have you started working with a co-packer? Want to know how to make your relationship stronger? Then read on….

Co-packers are married to your product. They make it for you. They heat up the kettle, preheat the oven, and package it. And some of them even do all of the ordering of your ingredients.

That’s an incredible amount of control for your company. Putting that much trust into a team can be a frightening experience. And a relationship you don’t want to jeopardize.

That’s why I wanted to share some tips to make sure you keep your co-packer happy:

1. Refer new business

I know you’ve got at least one goal for your company. I bet it’s making money. Am I right? Probably. And the same goes with your co-packer. They’re a business, too. So, whenever you’re at a farmer’s market or chatting up a demo guy at your neighborhood grocery store, keep your co-packer in mind. They’ll love you when you refer business their way. Plus, you may even get a discount out of it. Cha-ching!

2. Stay organized

We’ve all got a million things going on with our food businesses – ordering ingredients, production, shipping online orders, filling purchase orders, trying to land distributors. It’s a lot. And you’ve got to stay organized with everything – especially your co-packer. Make sure you communicate when everything will arrive, the amount you’d like to produce, and other important details. That way there’s no surprises on production day.

3. Produce with them

I make sure to hop in on a production at least every quarter. I do this to make sure things are going smoothly and product is being manufactured to my standards. You might catch things you don’t want to see, but at least you’ll be able to nip them in the bud.

Do you have a tip to add or other questions about working with co-packers? I’d love to hear them – simply leave  a comment below. Also, please share these tips with other food producers you think would find this useful. I’d appreciate it.

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18 Comments on this post

  1. AUTHORKaren Foley, Founder FoodieCrowdFunding.com

    on August 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    Great article- Since I have been on the retail and the manufacturing side -here are a few other comments:
    1. Communication is key: Start right off from your first meeting with the details you need from your co-packer and get the same from them.
    2. If its important enough to say – its important enough to write- put everything in writing- best reference you will both have.
    3. Don’t “assume” anything- if you have a little voice inside saying – I am not sure about X. Get it clarified.
    Hope this helps.
    For all you small co-packers and artisan purveyors make sure to view http://www.foodiecrowdfunding.com if you are need of capital support funding to grow your business without giving up equity. We’re her to help.

    • AUTHORmichael

      on August 7, 2013 at 12:04 am - Reply

      Hi Karen,

      Three more solid points. Don’t assume anything – that’s gotten me into some holes that are hard to dig your company out of. Appreciate your insight!

  2. AUTHORSara

    on August 10, 2013 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    Hi Michael
    any tips on where/how to find a copacker? We are located in the Hudson Valley New York and are ready to scale up. We have a small commercial kitchen on our property. Thank you.

  3. AUTHORRocky DeCarlo

    on August 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Pay the co packer 50% up front with your order and pay the balance when the product is finished or you pick up your product or whatever the terms are. Don’t be late paying them. Everybody [in any business] likes to get paid ASAP especially when they are laying out there cash for your product. That also gives you some leverage when you need a favor, quick delivery, partial run et. Nobody likes being a bank for someone else. Rocky

    • AUTHORmichael

      on August 13, 2013 at 7:24 pm - Reply

      Hi Rocky – thanks for stopping by. GREAT tips! I pay my co-packer within 7 days of production. And you’re right, they operate their own business by depending on your cash!

  4. AUTHORJames Rogers

    on August 15, 2013 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    As a co packer, I ask our customers to try not to micro manage me. Some customers try to micromanage. That can cause extra lead times and stress for both parties. For me, it is easier to give me a 2 week lead time and let me handle making sure I have all the supplies. It is usually cheaper for me to get everything. My customers are welcome to come and inspect when we are producing their products. I am located in Arkansas and we do both dry and liquids.

    • AUTHORmichael

      on August 16, 2013 at 1:50 pm - Reply

      Hi James — thanks for stopping by. I definitely agree with you. It’s easier for a co-packer to handle everything, but some people do want more control. I let my co-packer handle the majority of my production, but I still drop off all the ingredients. How many clients do you work with?

  5. AUTHORsiemens

    on September 27, 2013 at 9:27 am - Reply

    Excellent tips to have a great relationship with the co-packers. Thanks for the post. Worth reading.

    • AUTHORmichael

      on September 30, 2013 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      Thanks, guys! Hope you have a great Monday!

  6. AUTHORAlex

    on October 4, 2013 at 1:58 am - Reply

    Hey Michale, thanks for all the insight.

    I was told that I could get a co-packer to do my product without putting any money upfront and just do terms? And was told to give my distributor/customer a short term and then pay my co-packer? Does this work at all? Sounds a bit too good to be true. Please let me know if you know any of this.

    • AUTHORmichael

      on October 5, 2013 at 1:16 am - Reply

      Hey Alex,

      You may be able to get in with no up-front cost. I have with both co-packers I’ve worked with. But, you still have the up-front cost of your product (ingredients, packaging, labels, etc). Your terms are typically net 30 with retailers and distributors which means you’ll be able to pay the co-packer. When it comes down to it, you need to have a couple thousand bucks to keep you cash-flow positive. Net 30 terms keeps you on your toes. You need to make enough product, but have money to do so. Does that help?

  7. AUTHORAlex

    on October 7, 2013 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    Thanks! That makes a bit more sense. Would love to get more insight on this process coming from an experienced person in the field. Anyway I could directly email you and get some tips?

    • AUTHORmichael

      on October 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      Hey Alex – I’ll send you an email and we can start talking. I’m actually writing an Ultimate Guide to Co-Packing due out in Nov/Dec 2013.

  8. AUTHORMatt Suggs

    on April 14, 2015 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Hey Michael,

    Great post, keeping a good relationship with your co-packer is a MUST when building a successful product.
    We just recently wrote a blog post about helpful hints when choosing the right co-packer at blog.partnerslate.com.

    Thanks for all the awesome posts!

    • AUTHORmichael

      on May 19, 2015 at 4:44 pm - Reply

      Great post, Matt – thanks for sharing!

    • AUTHORmichael

      on February 4, 2017 at 6:41 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Daniele — glad you like the blog!

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