Many Industry professionals, when asked this question, would assume the co-packer only gets involved at the end of a projects life cycle and although that can be true for some jobs its becoming more important for companies to approach the co-packer at a much earlier stage, and sometimes even before they’ve begun the manufacturing process.
Contract packers have always been an integral part of the supply chain, ensuring products make their way to the shelf in both the timescale required, within budget and in the condition retailers expect, but what if you get to the point where you’ve manufactured a product, have retailers lined up and then can’t find a suitable co-packer to oversee the final stages of your project.
It sounds impossible to think that you’d get to this stage and not be able to find a suitable supplier, but many things can influence the end of the supply chain. One thing nearly all co-packers have in common is the increase in demand for their services during the lead up to the holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter. Brand owners and project managers are generally aware of this trend and can use their knowledge and skills to ensure their supplier has the capacity to handle their project but placing additional work load on an already stretched work force can sometimes cause issues that can normally be avoided. Obviously it’s not always possible to plan so far in advance that everything runs like clockwork such as when demand for a product outweighs manufacture and this is where having a partnership with your supplier really comes into its own. By working in partnership with suppliers and not simply seeing them as a means to an end, you encourage more trust in the relationship and this often results in a sustainable partnership that can react to market conditions much more flexibly and result in significant achievements for all concerned.
Another problem than can arise as a result of last minute planning is the difficulty in actually finding a supplier who is set up to handle the job with the necessary equipment, systems and work force in place. Most co-packers will specialise in certain sectors whether it be pharmaceuticals, toiletries, confectionery etc, and will have the appropriate equipment and certifications in order to work those sectors, so doing your homework prior to approaching these suppliers can be time saving and result in a smooth running project. Generally if you have a partnership with an existing supplier they would be open to discussing procurement options for equipment to tender for most contracts but this again is something which takes time and should be considered in great detail and from the outset.
The diverse nature of the packaging Industry as a whole tends to mean that most projects have a bespoke time frame and keeping within those constraints is specific to that individual job. Working with co-packers from the early concept stage can ensure that all parties are aware of their responsibilities and the time frame their expected to work towards giving everyone the chance to plan ahead and ensure your project gets completed in the most efficient and manageable way.
Tim Britt – Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org
Sales and Marketing Manager
Brand Packaging Services