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    5 Costly Mistakes You Should Avoid When Working with Beverage Co-Packers

    Beverage co-packers are a great way to scale your beverage production without investing in your own facility and equipment. Their cost-effectiveness, experience, expertise, and logistics support make them a valuable partner for beverage brands. 

    Outsourcing your beverage production can free up your time and resources to focus on other aspects of your business, like branding, marketing, and sales. Working with beverage co-packers is not without its challenges, though. 

    There are a few costly mistakes that brands can make when working with beverage co-packers. These mistakes can derail your production, cost you time and money, and damage your brand reputation, ultimately hurting your business. Read on to learn more about the five costly mistakes that can smash the can when working with beverage co-packers.

    What Are Beverage Co-Packers?

    Beverage production is a multi-step process that includes everything from formulation and ingredient sourcing to packaging and distribution. Beverage brands often partner with beverage co-packers to outsource some or all these production steps

    Co-packers are beverage manufacturing experts that specialize in aseptic beverage production, packaging, and logistics. They have the facilities, equipment, and expertise to produce beverage products at scale.

    Alcoholic beverage co-packers, for instance, specialize in producing beer, wine, and spirits, taking care of everything from recipe development, brewing, and fermentation to bottling and packaging.

    Benefits of Working with Beverage Co-Packers

    Beverage production can be an expensive and time-consuming process. The infrastructure needed to scale production, including production facilities, equipment, and certifications, can be cost-prohibitive for many beverage brands. Working with a beverage co-packer offers beverage brands several benefits, including:

    Cost-Effectiveness

    Beverage co-packers already have the infrastructure to produce beverage products at scale, so you don’t need to pump money or time into setting up and maintaining your own facilities. Beverage co-packers can also get ingredients at a lower cost than brands could on their own.

    Co-packers have Experience and Expertise

    Beverage co-packers breathe and live beverage production. They have the experience and expertise to handle all aspects of beverage production, including concept development, formulation, and ingredient sourcing to packaging and distribution. 

    They have worked with multiple brands and so are uniquely positioned to offer insights and recommendations to streamline production processes, save money, and avoid costly mistakes. 

    Logistics Support

    Logistics is a critical part of beverage production and, when neglected, can lead to production delays, disruptions, and increased costs. Beverage co-packers can help brands with end-to-end logistics support, from warehousing and order fulfillment to transportation and distribution. 

    Their vast network of suppliers and partners gives them the buying power to get brands the best rates for shipping and transportation.

    Industry Certifications and Compliance

    Beverage production is a highly regulated industry. There are strict federal and state regulations governing beverage production, packaging, and labeling. Common certifications beverage brands need include:

    Beverage co-packers already have these certifications in place. You don’t need to go through the time and expense of getting your own certificates. 

    Co-packers allow for Scalability

    Beverage co-packers offer beverage brands the flexibility to scale production up or down as needed. This can be a significant advantage for seasonal beverage brands or brands launching new products. 

    You don’t need to commit to a long-term production contract or minimum order quantity. You can work with beverage co-packers on a project or as-needed basis to meet your production needs.

    There are many benefits of working with beverage co-packers, but there are also some mistakes you should avoid to make the most of your partnership. 

    5 Mistakes You Should Avoid When Working with Beverage Co-Packers

    Avoid these five mistakes when working with beverage co-packers to produce your beverage products:

    1. Not Doing Due Diligence

    Beverage packaging is a billion-dollar industry projected to hit $241.3 billion by 2030. This has attracted many new players to the market, including fly-by-night beverage co-packers looking to make a quick buck. Most beverage brands fall prey to these beverage co-packers and end up with subpar products, production delays, and cost overruns.

    Doing due diligence is critical to finding a reputable beverage co-packer that can meet your needs, deliver on their promises, and provide value for your investment. Read online reviews, ask for referrals from other beverage brands or industry experts, and check the co-packer’s certification and regulatory compliance.  

    2. Failing to Define the Project Scope

    Beverage production is a complex process with many moving parts. You must clearly understand what you need and want from the partnership before you start working with a beverage co-packer.

    • Define the project scope by identifying your specific goals and objectives. What are you hoping to accomplish by working with a beverage co-packer?
    • Be as specific as possible about your requirements. What type of beverage are you looking to produce? What is the desired packaging? How many units do you need? When do you need them?
    • Create a detailed project plan that outlines the steps involved in beverage production, from ingredient sourcing to packaging and distribution.
    • Develop a communication plan to collaborate effectively with your beverage co-packer throughout the project.

    3. Engaging a Beverage Co-Packer Too Fast, Too Soon

    Many beverage brands make the mistake of signing a contract with a beverage co-packer before they’re ready. They may be eager to start production, or their retail partners may have given them a deadline. Beverage co-packers will help scale up production quickly, so you must have all your ducks in a row before you engage them.

    • Take the time to finalize your product recipe. Beverage recipes can be tricky to perfect. Getting the right texture, mouthfeel, and flavor profile takes time, experimentation, and adjustments.
    • Gain market approval. Ensure your beverage product is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.
    • Conduct a test run. Once you’ve finalized your recipe, conduct a test production run with the beverage co-packer to work out any kinks.
    • Get your finances in order. Ensure you have the necessary financing to cover the beverage production cost.

    4. Underestimating the Nuances of Packaging

    Beverage packaging is more than just putting your product in a pretty bottle. There are many technical aspects, such as shelf life, storage requirements, and shipping logistics. Any mix-ups during packaging design, production, or distribution can result in costly delays and replacements.

    It is vital to clearly communicate your specific packaging requirements when working with a beverage co-packer. Send them a detailed description of your packaging concept and any logos or other artwork that needs to be included, and most importantly, have a backup plan with detailed instructions in case something goes wrong.

    5. Not Checking in on Co-packing Quality Control

    Leaving everything to your beverage co-packer is a recipe for disaster. You may have complete confidence in their abilities but staying involved in the production process and monitoring quality control is essential. 

    Surviving the stiff competition in the beverage industry without a quality control plan is nearly impossible. How do you ensure quality control when working with a beverage co-packer? Here are some tips:

    • Audit their facilities. Ensure the beverage co-packers’ facilities meet your standards for cleanliness and safety.
    • Inspect the ingredients. Review the beverage co-packers’ ingredient-sourcing process to ensure they use high-quality ingredients.
    • Test the product. Conduct regular tests on the beverage product to check for flavor, texture, and mouthfeel inconsistencies.
    • Review the packaging. Inspect the packaging for defects, such as dents, scratches, or leaks.

    You should also track inventory levels, production rates, and other critical data points to identify potential quality control issues. Catching quality control issues early on will help you avoid costly delays and replacements.

    Let MetaBrand Help You Take the Guesswork out of Beverage Packaging

    MetaBrand is the beverage industry’s leading full-service manufacturing and packaging agency. We have over a decade of experience helping beverage brands navigate the complex world of beverage packaging. We take care of everything, from concept to delivery, so you can focus on what you do best – selling your product. 

    Our experienced in-house team will work with you to create a beverage packaging solution that meets your unique needs while offering insights and guidance every step of the way. Arm yourself with the knowledge and resources you need to succeed in the beverage industry – connect with us today.

    FAQ's

    A co-packer is a company that specializes in manufacturing and packaging products for other beverage companies. For beverage brands, co-packers have the equipment, facilities, and expertise to produce and package beverages according to the brand’s recipe and ingredients.

    This means that the brand can focus on developing their product while leaving the production process to the co-packer. Co-packers handle everything from sourcing materials to shipping finished products, making it a cost-effective way for businesses to scale up their production without investing in their own facilities and equipment.

    If you’re thinking about working with a co-packer for your beverage brand, it’s important to ask them the right questions to make sure they’re a good fit for your business. Here are some examples of questions you could ask:

    • What types of beverages do you specialize in making?
    • What’s the minimum quantity of products you produce per order?
    • Can you give me references from other beverage brands that you have worked with?
    • How do you ensure quality control during the production process?
    • Do you have any certifications or standards that your company follows (like FDA, organic, or kosher)?
    • Are there any special packaging or labeling requirements that you can accommodate?
    • How long does it take for production and delivery?
    • How is pricing determined and does it vary depending on volume or complexity of the product?

    Asking these questions can help give you a better idea of whether or not the co-packer has the skills and experience necessary to meet your specific needs when it comes to producing and packaging your beverage products.

    The cost of a co-packer can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the type and quantity of beverage you want to produce, the complexity of the production process, and the level of service you require from your co-packer.

    It’s difficult to give an exact price without knowing more about your specific situation. However, there are several expenses associated with using a co-packer, such as raw materials, labor costs, packaging materials, transportation fees, and any additional services or requirements you may have.

    To get a better idea of how much it would cost to work with a particular co-packer for your beverage brand, reach out to us today and request a quote based on your unique needs and specifications. This way you can get an accurate estimate of what the total costs will be.