How to Get a Food Startup off the Ground with a Co-Packer

How to get a food industry startup off the ground with a co-packerThere are so many intelligent, creative people coming up with great ideas for new food products every day. Somehow, a great number of these products never reach store shelves. As a contract manufacturer in the food industry, PacMoore works with companies of all sizes. Though the size of our equipment or minimum run sizes don’t always allow it, we are pleased when our product development services for extrusion, spray drying or blending can help a startup succeed. I recently came across an insightful article by Ryan Williams that lays out a step by step blueprint for entrepreneurs to make their products a reality. The article mentions the beverage arena specifically, but actually applies to virtually any type of product in the food industry as well. I’ve summarized Ryan’s key points below, but you should consider taking the time to read the whole article at

Step 1: Vision

Don’t start with prototypes. Narrow your vision.

You’ll have a hard time finding a contract manufacturer willing to make very small runs for you. Instead of letting your energy and capital bottleneck at the start, begin by defining the technical aspects of what you’ll need and compare these to the parameters of the best suited contract manufacturers and co-packers – Minimum Order Quantities, fees, equipment specifications, etc.

Not sure whether you need a co-manufacturer?
Read advice from entrepreneur Jordan Buckner: CEO and Co-Founder of TeaSquares.


Step 2: Details

Engage with someone who knows product development.

Unless you’re a food scientist, you probably don’t know every detail about the product you want to make. Companies that are well-versed in product development and food science can help you think through the details and figure out how to scale up to production run quantities. Though most contract manufacturers may not have the capabilities to provide product development assistance, PacMoore does. With our extrusion, spray drying, and blending customers, we’ve found that when we start with the product development phase together, we’re able to use data from our test runs to help us scale up to the production phase in a more seamless way than if product development had taken place somewhere else.

Step 3: Co-Packer

Provide as much detail as possible to co-packers.

How to get a food industry startup off the ground with a co-packerAfter you’ve gathered as much detail as possible in the product development phase, it’s time to put it all together in a project memo and show it to your potential contract manufacturing partners (unless they were already involved in the product development phase, which saves you a big step). The more you share the better. You may be leery about sharing too much without a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), but Ryan Williams advised the following:

“While some may disagree, forcing NDAs at the earliest stages seems to have a low pay off — the truth is, like VCs, co-packers have little interest in stealing your idea and may find it a turnoff. Sign something once you’ve got a foot in the door, not still begging to be let inside.”

I find this to be sage advice! PacMoore certainly has no problem signing NDAs to put our customers’ minds at ease, but we would never use your project specifications in any way other than for your company’s benefit. We’re very intentional about not competing with our customers.

Step 4: Voila!

You’re ready for anything.

Instead of starting with a prototype you love that can’t make it in the production phase, you’ve kept production in mind throughout the whole process. Now you’re ready to start mass producing with a Contract Manufacturer poised to handle the job. Better make sure you have your retailers lined up!

With project and product alignment, PacMoore is uniquely positioned to help our customers with the product development and scale-up processes. Contact us today to get started.

Contact PacMoore

This blog was originally published on October 12, 2017

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Chris Bekermeier

Vice President, Marketing and Legal Affairs

Chris’ experience with Scott Paper and ConAgra has allowed him to sell and manage leading brands such as Scottissue®, Viva® Towels, Healthy Choice® and Butterball®. He received his B.S. in business management from Eastern Illinois University and his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. Chris currently leads marketing efforts to grow PacMoore’s food contract manufacturing business in the areas of dry blending, spray drying, extrusion, re-packaging, and consumer packaging.