What happens when the small business you started in your home kitchen turning strawberries into delicious jam becomes too much to do in your kitchen? Then it’s probably time to look into choosing a co-packer to take your business to the next level. Here is a look at what a co-packer can do for your business and tips for choosing a co-packer for your food business.

A co-packer, or a contract packer, will help manufacture and package your food product. Hiring a co-packer allows you to scale-up your business and focus on other parts of the business beyond producing large quantities of your product. 

The first tip for choosing a co-packer for your food business is to ask other food producers. Unfortunately, finding a co-packer you can trust and rely on is often not as simple as doing a quick internet search. Instead reach out to other food producers and ask them who they use. Make sure you are specific and thorough with your questions to ensure you are finding potential co-packers who would be a good fit for you and your product. Maybe they only produce canned food, but you don’t produce a product that comes in a can. Then it’s time to find additional recommendations so you can make sure you find co-packers who will potentially be a good fit.

Another tip for choosing a co-packer is to reach out to your state agriculture department or the agriculture department of universities in your area. These different agriculture departments most often have a list of co-packers they can provide and possibly even have relationships with co-packers they can recommend. Since this list of recommendations likely doesn’t come with the same level of personal experience as asking other food producers, you’ll want to make sure you look for reviews on potential co-packers.

Once you have narrowed your list of co-packers down, you’ll want to reach out to them to find the one that will be the best fit for you and your product. Be sure to ask about the size of their business and the scalability. You want the co-packer to be able to handle your current business and your potential business growth to save you from having to change co-packers as you grow. You’ll want to ask about the cost to ensure it is actually an economical decision to transfer packing from you to them. Also, as you are asking questions and determining if this co-packer is the right fit for you, take time to evaluate if you simply get along with them. This is a feeling rather than a quantifiable answer, but how you get along will be important as you are trusting them to help you grow your business.