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August 31, 2023
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.
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.
Content Director, Food & Beverage Insider, Informa Markets
A lifelong Chicagoan, Audarshia Townsend is a veteran food and beverage journalist who serves as the content director for the Food & Beverage Insider brand. 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, Playboy, Time Out Global and World’s Best Bars. When Townsend's not on the eats beat, she's an avid yogi and meditation practitioner. Email her at [email protected] and also connect with her on LinkedIn.
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