This week’s blog is written by guest author Jordan Buckner. Jordan is the CEO and Co-Founder of TeaSquares, so his particular experiences have given him insight to be able to advise other food startups on manufacturing their products.
Throughout their lifecycle, food entrepreneurs must decide between manufacturing products themselves or outsourcing to a contract manufacturer. As a food entrepreneur, I’ve experienced both production methods and have countless stories from other startups about the successes and horror stories.
Why work with a co-manufacturer?
They allow you to make your products without the upfront capital costs of building and managing your own facility. They have the expertise and experience to make your product efficiently. And finally, a good co-manufacturer will enable you to quickly scale your production volume to meet fast growing demand from new customers.
As with any good relationship, your success working with a contract manufacturer relies on setting mutual expectations and having an open line of communication. Aligning expectations early is one of the most important steps of building a great relationship, as the business models of food startups and co-manufacturers have a central point of tension. This is why:
Food Startups are creating new products with new ingredients and new forms designed to disrupt the market. This often means that products require complex or custom manufacturing processes.
On the other hand, co-manufacturers have specific pieces of equipment, and are in the business of producing simple products with existing equipment at large volume.
So how do you make the relationship work?
If you’re a startup and want to work with a co-manufacturer, start by understanding what standard equipment is available to make similar products, and design yours to fit into this process. For energy bar companies, there are three methods to producing product – Slab Lines, Extruders, and Rotary Molding. If your product doesn’t fit within one of these three processes, then you’ll have a hard time finding a co-manufacturer, or have to buy any special equipment yourself.
Once you align your product to their equipment, communication is the second most important step. At one point last year, our sales were going great and we requested another production run from our co-manufacturer two months in advance from when we needed inventory. They told me that it would be four months until we could get on the production schedule next. Big problem. Previously, they said it would be no problem, but what they didn’t communicate was they had a large client who just placed a multi-million dollar order, and we got bumped. Better communication on both sides could’ve alleviated the problem, as we could’ve scheduled a production run prior to the other customer’s order start date. When interviewing co-manufacturers, make sure to find one that has an open and honest line of communication that can deliver on your expectations. Learn more about this on a previous PacMoore blog by Chris Bekermeier.
Create your product with the end in mind and you’ll find an easier road to success with co-manufacturers.
CEO and Co-Founder of TeaSquares
Jordan Buckner is the CEO and co-founder of TeaSquares, a line of caffeinated energy snacks sold in Whole Food Markets, Mariano’s, and Amazon.com. His personal mission is to create products that enhance people’s lives while giving back and mentoring others to do the same.
TeaSquares helps people fuel their passions through healthy, functional snacks, while their social mission is to fuel economic development in underserved neighborhoods. Forbes awarded Jordan a 30 Under 30 recipient in the food and beverage category in 2018, won first place at the Groupon / ICNC pitch competition, and graduated from the Good Food Business program. Additionally he now uses his expertise to help other food entrepreneurs launch their businesses.
To take advantage of PacMoore’s commitment to open and honest communication and contract manufacturing services in extrusion, dry ingredient blending, liquid blending, spray drying, and more, contact PacMoore today.
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