Choosing the Best Co-Packer For Your Products
Does the co-packer have an R&D infrastructure?
Some contract manufacturers have evolved beyond simply executing formulations from recipes and ingredients supplied by others. Today, groundbreaking companies such as LiDestri offer comprehensive research and development support through our Innovation Center. Customers can come to our team with as little as a product concept, and we can help them formulate it using our kitchens and create samples for consumer testing in our pilot room before taking the plunge on a full-scale run.
Collaboration is key
An experienced and well-connected co-packer can add significant value to what might be a purely transactional relationship for a different firm. In addition to providing R&D infrastructure and expertise, collaborative co-packers with customers’ best interests at heart can help negotiate ingredient suppliers, transportation logistics and predict and head off growing pains that may come with scaling up production. At LiDestri, our favorite part of coming to work is the collaboration with our customers to help grow their businesses. Do you simply want a co-packer that will do what the contract specifies and nothing more? Or to have a collaborative relationship with a partner who uses its experience and connections to help your company grow?
Is it the right fit from a volume perspective?
Many contract manufacturers operate with high minimum runs, which maximizes profits by limiting downtime due to changeover. Companies that can commit to high volumes can save money by doing so. But that may not be a feasible option for companies just entering the market. Because we’ve grown alongside small-volume customers that have become large-volume customers, LiDestri evaluates minimum volumes on a case-by-case basis. Where there are good business cases, we may take calculated risks on new products with initial runs as small as 2000 cases. We refer even smaller companies or individuals just getting started in the food and beverage business to Cornell University’s Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship, which maintains a list of smaller-volume New York contract manufacturers.
Does the company have a reputation for safety and quality?
Hiring a contract manufacturer means to literally put your company’s reputation for safety and quality in their hands. Investigating a prospective co-packer’s history of safety and reputation for quality should be non-negotiable. We are justifiably proud of our safety and quality standards. Every one of our company’s five locations have attained the highest possible safety rating offered by the federal government: SQF, level-3-certified standard. Some of the largest food and beverage manufacturers in the U.S. have trusted us with their flagship products for decades.
What types of processing and packaging do they support?
Processing type and packaging choice are important considerations for how food and beverage products ultimately taste and the ways consumers perceive them. An experienced and collaborative co-packer is able to help customers understand those choices for new products and for existing products that could use a boost. Not all contract manufacturers offer every processing and packaging choice. We’re excited to be the only high pressure processing (HPP) toller in our region and that we have expansive capacity in aseptic processing, another up-and-coming beverage choice. Our complete offerings in processing and packaging coast to coast can be found here.
Because transportation costs factor substantially into the delivered cost of contract manufacturing, selecting a company with more than one location can be a benefit, especially for national rather than regional products. LiDestri offers five locations with a variety of capabilities coast to coast.
Experience and connections with suppliers
The best contract manufacturers or co-packers are those with deep experience and connections in the food industry. With decades of production experience and a career-minded workforce, LiDestri adds value through our innovative approach, by anticipating problems before they arise, and our ability to diagnose and quickly fix those that do. With more than 40 years in the business, we’ve built deep, strong roots with suppliers, which means, for example, when the U.S. has a tomato shortage, our customers still get what they need. On the beverage and spirits side, we’re among the first on the list when flavor houses have innovative ideas.
Is the management team a cultural fit?
Company culture can be an important consideration and a value-added bonus when customer and contract manufacturer align. LiDestri has strived to build lasting relationships with everyone we work with, from first-time entrepreneurs to the largest food, beverage and spirits companies worldwide. As a privately held, family business, we’re in it for the long haul. We have every incentive to help our customers grow their businesses, and our open and collaborative culture adds value for those involved across the years we do business together.