Production Reports for Food Co-Packers

Posted on August 27, 2015 by

Working with a co-packer is a big decision. Once you've weighed the pros and cons, decided that it's the right step for you, and chosen the co-packer you want to work with, your focus needs to shift to ensuring that your relationship with the co-packer is the best it can be so that the manufacturing process runs smoothly.

It sounds simple, but how do you do that? The only way to reach your goal of making sure that your products are manufactured on time and according to your specifications is to manage your relationship in a way that minimizes surprises and non-essential demands and maximizes efficiency and good will for both sides.

Setting Co-Packer Expectations and Responsibilities

Before you ever reach the manufacturing stage, the expectations for you and for your co-packer need to be spelled out, and we'll assume that you've agreed on what the responsibilities are for each side in terms of who makes what decisions and how you'll resolve any problems with quality control, standards of acceptability, or responsibilities for recalls and ordering materials. But spelling things out isn't the same as implementing them.


Food Copacker Production

Your co-packer is busy and effective communication is key to a strong relationship.

The Reality of Communicating with a Co-Packer

When you work with a co-packer, you're no longer directly in charge of production for your customers. Instead, you've become a customer yourself and count on the co-packer to provide the consistency and scale you need. As such, you are not involved with the day-to-day manufacturing. In fact, you might not even be anywhere near the manufacturing facility. And, if you've chosen the best co-packer for your product, you are not the facility's only customer. Good co-packers are busy with lots of clients and always have many different manufacturing runs and processes going on at the same time.

And on top of that constant activity, they might not have dedicated or large administrative staffs. So it can take time for information to filter from the floor to the phone, and a client might experience delays in follow up with phone calls or emails. So when you need to know what's going on - what was produced on a certain day, what the status is of a certain product, why something went wrong - it is not always easy to get that information in a timely manner or in a form that allows you to take appropriate action and address fundamental issues.

Tracking Production on the Web

One way to solve such problems is with a web-based production run report that both you and the co-packer have access to. Your co-packer tracks and submits the report, and you can see each production run right after it happens. You can know who worked on the run, how long it took, whether there were any discrepancies with ingredients, and if anything unusual happened that required additional notes or explanations (e.g. a mechanical failure, a spill, etc.). Such a report gives you the information you need to assure the quality and consistency of your product and gives you written records for your business without wasting time and without a lot of back and forth that can strain a crucial relationship.

A web-based system can also address variations in the way you and your co-packer have set up your collaboration. For example, sometimes the co-packer is responsible for ordering ingredients, but sometimes you might have that responsibility. In the latter case, having a real-time view of inventory that allows you to order everything needed for your production runs in a timely manner makes everyone's life easier, which builds trust and good will.

How it Works with ReciPal

ReciPal's web-based production reports can help you manage your relationship with your co-packer by addressing issues of proximity and communication and overall inventory management. The easy and intuitive interface and comprehensive information go beyond a basic report to give you what's essentially a virtual daily production meeting with your co-packer without the time commitment or scheduling burden. And that's a great way for both sides to do good business.


About Lev Berlin

Lev Berlin ReciPal SlantShack Author Bio

Lev Berlin is the founder & CEO of ReciPal. Having previously been a founder of SlantShack Jerky, he needed nutrition labels and simple tools to start and run the business. He's read the FDA food labeling code countless times in the process of creating ReciPal and helping small food businesses with their labels. He's reviewed and created thousands of food labels, and been a mentor and guest speaker at food incubators, food business courses, and regulatory conferences, like Brooklyn Foodworks and ICE.

After graduating from Princeton with an engineering degree, Lev was a management consultant, then founder or early employee at half a dozen startups. He loves nothing more than helping other small businesses get off the ground and achieve their goals.


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