Food Engineering/Manufacturing/Liquid Food Product
QUESTION: We have developed a liquid food product with Aw of .824 and Ph of 4.15. The product does include a preservative. Does this product need to be vacuum sealed and/or refrigerated? Refrigeration prior to opening or once opened? We currently are having the product tested for shelf life.
We believe the best market for our product is to have it individually packaged in pouch packaging. We have no idea and cannot find anyone who can help us understand the process of finding a co-packer or a manufacturer so we can determine the cost associated with having our item pouch packaged. We do not have the finances to support this ourselves, so how do we locate someone who might be interested in investing, or do co-packers have that interest?
We have created a fantastic product, and have paid to have the product professionally tested to ensure we meet all guidelines and safety. We do not want to package the product in larger containers and start selling on a small scale, because the market is for the individual packaging. We just can't figure out how to go from development to locating someone or a company to get the product packaged and marketed to stores/restaurants/convenience stores, without having a million dollars of our own money to invest, and without having any knowledge of what to do next.
Thank you very much for your assistance. It is GREATLY appreciated!
Good Thursday Morning.
First off, congrats on what you have done so far. You are showing savvy that most at this stage of the game do not.
Understand, too, that without knowing what your "product" is, I become limited in the things I can suggest to you# Just knowing water activity and pH is not enough to determine packaging requirements and/or how it needs to be handled through the supply chain# BTW, I understand completely your desire for confidentiality at this point#
I don't know how much effort you have expended to date in finding a packer, so I will tell you what I usually tell folks at this stage, na#ely, that the three resources are Google, the Contract Packers Assn, and the Private Label Packers Assn# Although Google can do it all, the other two work best if you can somewhat target# You would also have to reveal what your product is, as these companies tend to specialize in certain categories#
Most of the members of the CPA are larger outfits, and don't really want to deal with you unless you need serious quantities made# Figure 50 pouches / min x 480 minutes per shift = 24000 pouches per shift. This would be the smallest amount they would prefer to run, so unless you have a fat order ready-to-go, packing for you would not be in their best interest. They might agree to do it, but you would pay through the nose.
Private label houses are more geared up to make single pallet quantities of products. Being smaller, though, you need to supply them with EVERYTHING. They also can be limited in the types of packages they can fill.
Google, of course, will search on any set of terms you give it, which is why it is always a good place to start. By going through a search - refine - search process, you will come up with some possibles. Then, before you contact anybody, you need to prepare a MS Word-based document - ideally no more than two pages long that can be attached to an eMail - that summarizes everything: the product, the packaging, who you want to sell to, production quantities desired, special requirements, etc.
Write it, and then re-write it as many times as you have to, until its got it all covered. Remember, you are writing this to attract a potential packer or financial backer, so it should be clear to them why its in their best interests to work with you # versus the hundreds of others who approach them#. Show that you repect their time and have done your homework.
Then you will have a document that a potential packer or backer can look at to make an informed decision. You must then decide whether you'll need to have them sign a non-disclosure agreement before you send them your info. The NDA is designed to protect your confidentiality, is pretty-well recognized by those in business, and shows a professional appraoch on your part. You can have your attorney draw one up, or you can download one off of the web # Google again!#.
I also have colleagues who are expert in getting products from development to shelves that I could introduce you to, but I know they would want to see your write-up first before going any further.
If you like, I would be willing to look over your docs before you send them to anyone. Just let me know. In any case, I wish you good luck!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
I hope your holiday was enjoyable and restful. Thank you so much for your prompt and thorough response. I also very much appreciate your immediate recognition of our desire to protect the product. We do have an NDA developed and the lab testing our product has signed the document.
We have spent quite some time conducting searches on the internet regarding packing. We have made a few preliminary telephone contacts to determine general compatibility. Thus far we have not located someone who has the capability to pouch fill a liquid product in 7g or 1 tsp. individual sizes, in less than a 1,000,000 run. The copacker would need to order our ingredients, blend, heat, fill and package the individual quantities in larger boxes, as well as ship to us. Once larger quantities were ordered, we would also need warehousing services. Our thought is to obtain a smaller run for marketing/press kit purposes, ultimately creating contracts from buyers for larger volume orders. Do you have any suggestions?
We have spent the last year researching currently available products on the market, their pros and cons and the area of the market which is unfulfilled. We have also obtained the services of a graphic designer for consistency and consumer product recognition. We, and our families have used this product for the last year, because the product is simply unavailable on the current market. This is how our idea began - from our own personal unfulfilled need.
We have been working on a document summary and your offer of reviewing the document is greatly appreciated. We have the answers to most of the items you suggested, we just need to coordinate the information in a presentation format. Thank you VERY much!
At 7g size, it is something that i think of as a 'sample'... and that instantly makes me think of fulfillment houses. They are hired for that kind of packaging, so you should take a look at them. My concern, though, are the up-front items you mentioned, because - while they could do the 'packaging' part, the likely couldn't handle the work upstream of that. But I'd research them nonetheless.
There are contract pharma houses that pack in that size, but they also will be looking for orders in the millions. They are also very concerned about cross-contamination, so you would have to reveal all the intimate details of your product to them.
If I can assume that you product is fit for human consumption, then that brings food business incubators into the picture. These are locations set up especially for new ventures, and are largely funded by some combination of state and federal monies. These facilities are also associated with universities, e.g., Cornell, Rutgers, Ohio State, and NC State all have food labs and/or pilot packaging facilities. The only issue with them is secrecy can be hard to maintain ( academics are always looking to publish! ). Even so, i would still research them.
You should also do some reverse research work, i.e., find any product in a pouch config like yours, and then find out who packaged it and where. That might locate a source for you.