What to Look for When Selecting Your Gluten-Free Co-Packer

As a food manufacturer, you want to provide the best possible product for your customers. Selecting your gluten-free co-packer could mean the difference between a successful product or a ruined brand.

Here are some tips on what to look for when searching for your gluten-free co-packer.

1. Do Your Research

You do not want your product recalled due to an error made by your co-packer. Recalls cost thousands of dollars and will tarnish your brand. Research your potential co-packer. Ask peers or mutual industry associates about the company, visit their facility, and ask for references. Ask current clients about the co-packer’s reliability. Take it a step further and check the integrity of the co-packer’s products. They must be as dedicated to your products as you are.

2. Learn About the Facility

A co-packer’s facility speaks volumes about them, and the more you know, the better. A few questions to consider:

  • What is the size and capacity of the facility?
  • What type of production lines do they have?
  • Is the facility dedicated gluten-free?
  • Are they a dedicated allergen-free facility?
  • Do they offer storage, shipping, and fulfillment for your product?
  • What is the condition of the building and equipment?
  • Do they have testing protocols to ensure products remain gluten-free?

The answers to these questions will help you make a better decision on whether they are the right co-packer for you.

3. Certifications

Do you want or need a specific certification? There are multiple certifications available for your gluten-free product. Ask what certifications your potential co-packer has and if they are current. This can save you time and energy further down the road when you ned to meet specific requirements for asked by distributors or retailers. Some companies operate under certification standards without having paid for the certification. If a potential co-packer lacks a certification you want, ask them about the certification and explain why you need it.

4. Right Equipment

Different products and packaging require different equipment. Make sure your potential co-packer has the equipment you need for your product. This includes manufacturing the product the correct way, packaging it into the required package sizes, and labeling it. Will the finished product meet your quality standards and look appealing?

5. Processes & Organization

Do you want to know how organized your co-packer is? Ask them about their processes. They should be able to explain, or better yet, give you a copy of their processes. This includes the on-boarding process, inventory control process, production process, packaging process, and shipping process. Does this information make you feel confident in trusting your co-packer with your product?

6. Scheduling & Timeliness

Co-packers work with more than one client at a time, making it critical to understand how you fit into the mix. What type of lead time do they need to get your products into their production schedule? What size of runs can they do? Understanding the answers to these questions will help you plan your orders within the required lead times. That way your products are delivered on time to your retailers and distributors.

7. Minimum Order Quantity

This is an extremely important point for entrepreneurs or new food manufacturers. Co-packers will require a minimum order quantity (or MOQ) per product. It is typically stated as units or total weight per product (e.g. 2,000 units per product or 1,000 pounds each production run). Additionally, many co-packers require a monthly or annual order volume guarantee.

Make sure you understand what the co-packer’s MOQ is so that you can partner with someone that will not require more than you are prepared to produce.

Finally, beware of “MOQ creep”, which is when it increases after the first order. For example, some co-packers will have an MOQ for a first run, then continue to increase what their MOQ is with each subsequent order. This will force smaller businesses to increase the size of their orders or search for a different co-packer. You will save time by knowing what your co-packers standard MOQ is and if it increases over time.

Our MOQ here at GF Blends is 350 pounds per run.

8. Open & Honest Communication

Good relationships are built and maintained through open communication. This is the same for you and your co-packer. What forms of communication work best for you? Make sure your co-packer will support your preferred methods of communication. When selecting a co-packer, make sure your communication with them is clear and timely. A co-packer that builds a partnership with you through clear and frequent communication helps ensure the success of your business.

Choosing the right co-packer is always a give and take. As you ask the right questions while searching for a co-packer, then you will feel more confident about choosing the best co-packer for you and your products.

If you are looking for a gluten free co-packer, we are her to help you along the way. Contact us here to get started today!

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