Pour decisions: Beverage brands, co-packers offer best practices for the trade

Experts weigh in on the importance of finding the right co-packer. We spoke with three beverage co-packers and two CPG brands, which shared their top tips.

Audarshia Townsend, Content Director, Food & Beverage Insider

August 31, 2023

2 Min Read
beverage packing

At a Glance

  • Product developers can stand out by connecting with the right co-packing partners. Sometimes, experimentation is key.
  • Crafted Brand Co., Odyssey Elixir, Big Easy Blends, Pactiv Evergreen and Steeped Coffee offer advice on co-men and packaging.
  • Companies that make more impactful commitments involving sustainability are getting noticed.

Anyone who regularly watches “Shark Tank” knows that the judges immediately groan when they see a beverage product being wheeled out. It’s entertaining for the audience, but for a beverage founder, not so much.

The judges are not in the minority. With the nonalcoholic beverage market expected to grow to $2 billion by 2028, competition is stiff with the likes of carbonated beverages, juices, water, RTD tea and coffee and more.

Nevertheless, beverage developers can still stand apart, with experts saying the right co-packer can make the difference in a product’s success. Here, we consulted with five industry experts—three unique beverage co-packers, plus two CPG brands—for top insider tips.

Starting from scratch

Finding a co-packer for Felicia Vieira’s business wasn’t too difficult because she became a member of the Specialty Food Association and Women in Business organizations. “Those connections really helped,” said Vieira, who celebrated Crafted Brand Co.’s tenth anniversary this year. “They have affiliations with co-packers that advertise with them, so we were able to get into their networks.”

In addition to connecting with an industry organization, Vieira recommended that newbies use materials already in the manufacturers’ portfolios. “The more customization you do, the more expensive your packaging will be,” she cautioned. “Many people tend to have the same packaging because it’s cheaper for the co-packer to buy the materials in bulk.”

From Scott Frohman’s experience, one must sometimes experiment with a few co-packers before the product is perfected. The founder behind mushroom-infused beverage line Odyssey Elixir said he exercised patience when he hired a second co-packer, who was able to provide an ideal formulation and packaging for his brand.

“You have to start someplace,” Frohman advised. “You’re going to have to work with that co-packer as close as you can to get your [specifications] dialed in. That co-packer, however, might not have the sophistication as you continue to [evolve], so you’re just going to have to work as best as you can, show up when they do the runs, taste [the product] for yourself, and if it’s not right, then call it out.”

To read this article in its entirety, check out the Better beverages for everybody digital magazine.

About the Author(s)

Audarshia Townsend

Content Director, Food & Beverage Insider, Informa Markets

A lifelong Chicagoan, Audarshia Townsend is an award-winning, veteran food and beverage journalist who serves as the content director for the Food & Beverage Insider brand. She is Informa Markets' 2024 "Star Storyteller" winner. Her experience as a visionary editor and writer spans 30 years, with an emphasis in print and digital magazines. Audarshia's professional passion is to champion and amplify underserved business communities. Some of her most recent content includes her review of 2023's F&B trends, the future of food science careers, an interview with culinary star Padma Lakshmi, and Pescavore's sustainable ahi tuna jerky strips. She also appears regularly on local and national media outlets to discuss food and beverage trends, most notably FOX-32 Chicago, WGN-TV, WXRT-FM, NPR-Chicago and the Travel Channel. She is often called on to serve as a judge for prestigious food, beverage and restaurant awards, including the James Beard Foundation, NEXTY Awards and Black Women in Food. She continues to write for Chicago magazine, and previously she has written for the likes of the Chicago Tribune, Eater Chicago, Esquire, Essence, Los Angeles Times, Playboy, Time Out Global and World’s Best Bars. With food and beverage being her longtime, chosen beat in media, she has created content for a number of prestigious brands such as AOL, Google, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, Lexus, MasterCard, Markon Cooperative Inc., Miller Brewing Co., Resy and Simplot Foods.

To date, Audarshia has guest lectured at the following higher-education institutions: Columbia College Chicago and Loyola University Chicago for undergraduate journalism students; Northwestern University for graduate journalism students; and Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) for undergraduate, graduate and PhD food science students. She also mentors aspiring young writers and journalists whenever she can. Email her at [email protected] and also connect with her on LinkedIn.

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