How to Choose a Safe Co-packer for Your Food Business

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As profitable as food businesses are, they’re highly challenging to operate. On the one hand, you need to work on things like branding, marketing, and financials. But aside from these, you also need to find ingredients, manufacture your products, and package and label them to be ready for customers. Unfortunately, the operational requirements become even more demanding as you expand your business. 

Given how hard it is to balance the workload, it’s common for food businesses to hire co-packers to assist them with production, packing, and labeling. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits of hiring one and how you can choose a trusted partner to take your business to the next level.

What Is a Co-packer? 

A co-packer is short for contract packager, which refers to a company that produces and packages products for clients. Depending on your needs, you can hire one to manufacture your product line or package your finished goods—or do both. Several co-packers operate in the food industry, with some specializing in specific types of products. Some examples are a bottling co-packer, a frozen food co-packer, and a beverage co-packer.

machine for food packaging

Benefits of Hiring a Co-packer

Hiring a co-packer offers many benefits for food businesses, some of which include the following:

  • Cost Savings. Contrary to most assumptions that co-packer costs are expensive, doing this can actually save you money. By hiring a co-packer, you won’t need to build a facility, hire extra staff, or buy costly equipment. Co-packers have already made these investments, so they’re ready to manufacture and package your goods.
  • Time Savings. Aside from incurring fewer costs, outsourcing production saves you tons of time. You no longer have to think about manufacturing products or packaging them with a reliable co-packing partner. This gives you time to focus on key tasks, such as future business plans or new products. 
  • Easy Scalability. As your business grows, so will your manufacturing needs. Fortunately, you won’t encounter this problem when working with a co-packer since you can easily scale production to fulfill demand. 
  • Access to Certifications. Another significant benefit of hiring a co-packer is that they already have the necessary certifications needed to produce, package, and distribute food. This saves you time from having to apply for the certifications yourself. Additionally, it assures you that the company is aware of the essential health policies, hazard prevention techniques, and safety measures.

How to Find a Safe and Trusted Co-packer for Your Business

If your business is ready to expand and ramp up production, you’ll need to find a safe and trusted co-packer. Choosing the right partner is key to ensuring that you deliver quality food products to customers. So to help you in your search, here are the main factors to consider when deciding.

food packaging

Experience and Reputation

How long has the co-packer been in the industry? Ideally, you want to work with someone with years of experience and a good reputation. Research all the co-packers you’re considering to know more about their history. Browsing their company websites should give you a general overview of their services and capabilities. 

Aside from researching online, you can also ask your family, friends, or network if they’ve worked with a particular food co-packer. It’s always useful to hear from people with firsthand experience, as it helps you set and manage expectations. 

Scope of Services

Not all co-packers provide the same services. Some may only handle packaging, while others do this alongside manufacturing. Thus, you should check each company’s scope of services to ensure you choose one that can cater to your needs.

While doing this, make sure you also look for minimum order quantities (MOQ). Co-packers usually require a certain volume before starting a production run, so you’ll need to check if you have enough funding and demand. 

Proximity of Location

As much as possible, choosing a co-packer close to your business location is best to minimize travel time and cost. Doing this is also generally more convenient, whether to transport finished goods or schedule a tour for inspection. If you’re unsure how to filter your search, try typing “co-packer near me” online to find a shortlist of potential companies. 

Licenses and Certifications

One of the best ways to gauge a co-packer’s credibility is to check if they have the proper licenses and certifications to operate. Some crucial certifications to look out for include the following:

  • ISO 22000 (Food Safety Management)
  • ISO 9001 (Quality Management System)
  • Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)
  • Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)

Quality Control Processes

Checking industry licenses and certifications is one thing. But aside from this, you should also look into the co-packer’s quality control processes to ensure they handle food properly and hygienically. The best way to do this is to tour their manufacturing facility to check if they have a clean workspace, updated equipment, and organized processes. If possible, you can also bring someone with proper food safety knowledge to help you with the inspection.


Of course, the cost is one factor you can’t forget about in your decision. As valuable as hiring a co-packer may be for your business, you should still think about your budget. Generally, co-packers charge you by a flat day rate, rate per unit, or rate per hour. So before choosing a partner, compare different co-packers rates and fee structures to see who can deliver the most value without straying from your budget.

Find the Perfect Co-packer to Scale Your Food Business Operations

Finding a co-packer that ticks all your boxes isn’t the easiest task, especially with the many considerations to make. So if you’re unsure of where to start looking or how to choose the right partner, we’re here to solve your dilemma. At Sunleaf, we have a network of co-packers to match you with the perfect fit. Call us today at 949-799-4802 to get started.

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