Tate & Lyle
Kerry Food Ingredients

Ten tips to selecting a contract packer

Packaging professionals shared their advice about selecting a contract packer (CP), aka a co-packer or private-label manufacturer, in a 2009 Packworld.com online survey.  Here are ten of the responses, edited for clarity, and you can read the full article here.

  1. Contract packagers must be more cost-effective than you are, and that must be borne out by the cost, service, and quality of the products they offer. Make sure that they have a good management team — everything else falls into place with a good management team.

  2. Do not be fooled by quotes or low-price formats. It is near impossible to write a proper specification that includes all aspects of contract packaging and manufacturing. Review the CPs’ presentations and view the facilities and personnel of your final three. Have them write an inclusive quotation specifically noting things not included. Check financial stability, these days especially.

  3. Make sure they have regulatory approvals. Make sure they maintain control of EVERYTHING.

  4. Select them for their merits and do not try to remake them in your image. In other words, if you select a particular CP because it operates lean or is faster on turnaround, don’t burden them with unnecessary overhead or procedures just so they can be like your operations.

  5. Audit the co-packer before business is assigned.

  6. Make sure they are a good fit. Do your homework about who they are, how long they have been in existence, and what they do best, and talk to someone who has used them before.

  7. Choose a contract packager that has the proven capability already in place to handle the packaging you need them to fill. Contract packagers, in an attempt to grow their business, will offer to service different packages where their capability is unproven or in early stages. If you choose to use them under these circumstances, be prepared for productivity issues that result from them climbing the learning curve.

  8. If a new supplier, start with a small job as a “test drive”.

  9. They should be conversant with packaging standards and well-equipped with modern equipment and testing appliances; have trained and skilled manpower to deliver goods; and their work performance should be time-bound.

  10. Check capacity limitations.

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