7 Most Important Questions to Ask Your Food Co-Packer

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Is your business looking for a new distributor to supply you with premium frozen foods? You’ll want to know the best questions to ask co-packers before forging any agreements with them. Whether you own a restaurant, are an entrepreneurial chef, or are a food distributor, you will have specific needs that require a smart approach.

Once you have an idea of who your co-packer could be, it’s time to get your to-do list together. You should be comfortable and prepared before speaking with anyone in the co-packing industry.

Here’s a list of the best questions to ask co-packing food companies before hiring them to do the job!

1. Find Out What They Pack

Not every co-packer is the same — each will have their own capabilities. You might find a small batch co-packer that doesn’t pack certain types of food. For example, you could come across a co-packer that strictly manufactures only acidified and low acidified products.

Other co-packing food companies may just have frozen food capabilities or specialize in meat processing, for example.

2. Find Out What They Don’t Pack

It’s just as important to find out what is a co-packer’s list of items that they won’t pack. Avoid simply asking co-packing food companies what they can do for you. The sooner you find out what they’re incapable of doing, the sooner you can avoid any misunderstandings.

For example, you might find a food co-packer that can’t pack raw meat products or unpasteurized dairy. There are definitely co-packing food companies with these capabilities. However, they need to also have the proper certifications and equipment before taking on the job.

3. Learn How Big Their Batches Are

Now, the last thing you want to experience is hiring a small batch co-packer that won’t be able to handle your amount of orders. Or perhaps a larger co-packer with the right capabilities is still unable to manufacture food in the quantities that you need. This is information you’ll want to know upfront instead of after you’ve hired them.

You should ask co-packing food companies what their typical batch sizes are. Also, ask them about their ability to complete multiple batches within 24 hours. You might find a co-packer with a typical batch size of 60 gallons or you might find a co-packer offering far less — it’s important to know this information.

4. Learn What They Supply

Another important thing to ask a co-packer is what they actually supply. You’ll want to know if their supplies include storage, packaging, labels, and what kind of ingredients. It’s good to ask them to share a list of providers who are carrying specific ingredients.

You may also find a food co-packer that is willing to work with your packaging vendor or your label designer. If you find one that offers long-term storage as well, then you’re in luck. If not, it isn’t the end of the world and you might be able to find an outside provider for that.

5. Ask What You Need to Supply

You should know exactly what you’ll need to supply. You should also find out how soon and how often you’ll need to supply them. That could mean ordering packaging and ingredients to ensure that they don’t arrive too soon.

For example, you might want to ensure that your shipment won’t arrive before your scheduled production day. You’ll also want to arrange for your products to be retrieved or shipped within the 10 days of completion. This will help your organization stay aligned with the co-packer’s production.

6. See if There Are Any Additional Services

If you’re still learning how to find a co-packer or already a seasoned food entrepreneur, you’ll still need all of the information you can get. Find out if there are any additional services your potential co-packer offers. And then get a clear list of what those additional services are.

For example, are you able to get help with labeling, packaging, sealing, and shipping preparation as well? Do they offer assistance with a scheduled process? These are the questions to ask a food co-packer before hiring them.

7. Ask if Distance is a Problem

Obviously, the most ideal situation would be to work with a co-packer that is located extremely close to you. However, if that isn’t the case, you should still be able to work with them. Just ask right away about geographic location.

For some co-packing food companies, distance is not a problem at all. You might find a co-packer that is equipped to work with customers from almost every part of the country. There are also co-packers that work with customers from all over the world.

With those co-packers, it’s typical for you to have your ingredients shipped directly to them. They would then arrange for your products to ship to a destination of your choice. Not only is this convenient but this could separate the average co-packer from the best co-packer for your business’s needs.

Additional Questions to Ask a Food Co-Packer

There are plenty of other questions for you to ask for a food co-packer, but this list should get you started. Jot down any additional questions that you may have and be sure to go over everything with your prospects before making any final decisions.

If you don’t want to sacrifice the quality of your goods and are looking for a co-packer you can rely on, connect with us today!

SunLeaf Foods is a chain supply company for plant-based foods. We are totally committed to comprehensive food safety and a quality assurance processes. We work with growers and packers to ensure that from the field to the finished packaged product, the strictest food safety practices are adhered to.