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Speed Dating: Picking the right contract manufacturer for you!

CM Speed Dating

If you’re looking for a contract manufacturer but aren’t quite sure how to sort through your choices,  we’ve got your back. Take a look at these 7 questions you should be asking your contract manufacturer candidates to make sure they’re competent and competitive.

What services should a contract manufacturer offer at a minimum?

When it comes to choosing a contract manufacturer, there are several different services that customers should look for.  A great contract manufacturer should be able to provide the customer with the resources needed to create their product, as well as the customer support required to maintain a flourishing business relationship.  Ideally, a manufacturer will provide points of contact within customer support, sales, quality, and operations.

By allowing and encouraging multiple points of contact, the customer is always involved in the progression of their product.  Additionally, the contract manufacturer should have stringent quality systems in place to help reduce some of the risks that are associated with manufacturing food grade products.  This can help instill confidence in the consumer that their product is in safe hands.

What are some “bonus” services one may find with a contract manufacturer?

When it comes to financial efficiency, it pays to go with a contract manufacturer that can provide more than just one service.   Choosing a facility that can provide warehousing, order fulfillment, procurement, and/or formulation work is typically the best choice financially.  Each company is different, so it is important to find out what options and services are, or are not, offered.  Ultimately, you should look for a contract manufacturer partner that can tailor their services to meet the needs of your project and assure that it will be taken care of from start to finish.

What are the first steps in starting a contract manufacturer relationship?

It is absolutely crucial that the customer feel confident about their relationship with the contract manufacturer.   From the beginning, it is very important that contract manufacturer takes the time to properly and thoroughly understand the customer’s goals and objectives.  In turn, the customer must remain realistic about the services that the facility offers, the financial costs, and the timelines that will be required to create a quality product.  When both parties can come together and discuss the process and desired outcomes, a proper business plan can be assembled.

Are there similarities between contract manufacturing in different industries, specifically food, beverage, and health & wellness?

Yes, there are similarities between contract manufacturers in different industries.  For example, there are specific levels of hygiene that are required to meet the standards for food grade processing facilities.  Essentially these standards are very closely related in the food and beverage industries.   Additionally, there are many specific government regulations that must be met and maintained for a facility to remain FDA and USDA compliant.  If you have questions or concerns about any particular facility, then it is usually best to check with them specifically and determine what services they offer, the certifications they hold, and what types of products they are most familiar working with.

What are the top 3 differences between the food, beverage, and health & wellness industries?

When comparing contract manufacturing industries, there are several key differences between them.  The manufacturing requirements for supplements are different than the regulations for foods and beverages.  Supplements must go through different testing to confirm identity and purity of incoming raw materials – a process that is not necessarily required in other industries.

Supplements also need to be blended properly.  Some ingredients are used at clinical doses, so ensuring a homogenous blend is a critical part of the manufacturing process.  Lastly, the machinery and equipment are often unique to the industry.   Typically, there are specific blenders and lines that are only used for supplements, and others that are designated for either foods or beverages.  This helps prevent any potential contamination while also promoting quality and purity.

What certifications should a contract manufactureroffer for each category?

Ideally, contract manufactures working with foods should be SQF certified.  The Safe Quality Foods certification is highly recognized in the industry and it ensures that food has been produced, processed, and handled according to the highest standards. NSF for GMP is a great certification to have in the dietary supplement industry.  NSF is an independent, third-party organization that tests and certifies supplements to ensure quality and safety.

What sets Agropur apart as a contract manufacturer?

Agropur Ingredients is a vertically integrated manufacturer.  This gives us a pipeline for ingredients that manufactured within Agropur to then be used in many of our customer’s products.  Additionally, we have the resources and the teams needed to formulate products, acquire raw materials, blend, retail package, and distribute.  This is all offered at our La Crosse facility.  This is an asset to customers because we can work with you from beginning to end without having to enlist outside help.  Everything is done in-house, which tends to be a rarity in this industry.  We are also SFQ Level 2 certified, NSF for GMP and NSF Sport certified, OU Kosher certified, and USDA Organic Certified.

Beyond our dry ingredient capabilities and resources, Agropur has different divisions that you can benefit from such as our cheese or liquid beverage groups. We have strategically diversified our facilities to offer near complete vertical integration from ingredient sourcing to e-commerce order fulfillment.

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