Section 3: How Do I Produce/Transport My Product Efficiently?

Self Manufacturing Vs. Co-Packing

As an emerging CPG brand, one of the first decisions you'll need to make is whether to self-manufacture or partner with a co-packer.

You might be thinking — I’m just a small brand, do I really need to make this decision right now?

Well, yes and no. While you might think self-manufacturing is the easy and obvious strategy for you as a small brand, that manner of thinking might be selling yourself short. While self-manufacturing might be the easier (and less expensive) way in the short term, it’s still important that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each strategy before you make up your mind.

Why Should I Understand and Explore Both Strategies?

In case you need a little more convincing, here are some reasons, it’s crucial that you properly examine both self-manufacturing and co-packing as options.

  • Resource Allocation: As a new CPG brand, determining the most efficient and effective way to allocate resources is crucial. This includes decisions on whether to invest in building and managing in-house production facilities or partnering with a co-packer. An informed choice in this area can significantly impact your company's growth, profitability, and long-term success.
  • Scalability: Emerging CPG brands often face the challenge of scaling their production to meet increasing market demand. Choosing between self-manufacturing and co-packing can greatly affect a brand's ability to scale quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively, without compromising product quality or customer satisfaction.
  • Time to Market: For new CPG brands, speed to market is essential in order to establish a presence, gain market share, and build customer loyalty. The choice between self-manufacturing and co-packing can significantly impact the time it takes to bring a product to market, as well as the brand's ability to adapt to changing market conditions and consumer preferences.
  • Quality Control and Consistency: Ensuring product quality and consistency is critical for emerging CPG brands looking to build a strong reputation and customer base. The decision between self-manufacturing and co-packing can have a direct impact on a brand's ability to maintain quality control and ensure a consistent product experience for consumers.
  • Financial Considerations: The choice between self-manufacturing and co-packing can have significant financial implications for emerging CPG brands. While self-manufacturing requires a substantial upfront investment in facilities, equipment, and workforce, co-packing can help minimize these costs and reduce the financial risks associated with production. This allows new brands to allocate more resources towards product development, marketing, and other strategic initiatives.
  • Focus on Core Competencies: Emerging CPG brands need to determine where their core competencies lie and prioritize those areas to achieve success. By partnering with a co-packer, brands can focus on developing innovative products, strengthening their brand identity, and driving sales and marketing efforts, while leaving the complexities of production to experienced professionals.

This crucial decision will significantly impact your brand's growth and overall success. Let’s dive in a little deeper.

What is Self-Manufacturing?

Self-manufacturing refers to the process in which a company produces its products using its own facilities, equipment, and workforce. This approach provides businesses with direct control over production, quality assurance, and the ability to make changes quickly and efficiently. With self-manufacturing, the company is responsible for every aspect of the production process, from sourcing raw materials to packaging and distributing the final product.

Who is Self-Manufacturing Best For?

Self-manufacturing is best suited for businesses that:

  • Want complete control over their production process, quality, and timeline
  • Have the financial resources to invest in facilities, equipment, and workforce
  • Possess the technical know-how and expertise required to manage the manufacturing process
  • Seek to protect their proprietary formulas or intellectual property
  • Aim to have a flexible production schedule that can be easily adjusted according to market demands.
Self-Manufacturing: Pros and Cons


  • Control over production: Self-manufacturing allows you to maintain direct control over the entire production process, from raw material sourcing to finished product packaging. This level of control ensures that your product meets your exact specifications and quality standards.
  • Quality assurance: By overseeing every aspect of production, you can implement robust quality control measures and quickly address any issues that may arise.
  • Flexibility in manufacturing: Self-manufacturing provides the ability to make adjustments to your production schedule or product formulation as needed, giving you the flexibility to respond to market trends and customer feedback.
  • Potential cost savings: Although self-manufacturing requires a significant upfront investment, it can result in cost savings over time, especially as you scale production.


  • Capital investment: Setting up a self-manufacturing operation requires a significant investment in facilities, equipment, and personnel. This can be a barrier for some emerging CPG brands
  • Managing production staff: With self-manufacturing, you'll need to hire, train, and manage a team of production staff, which can be time-consuming and challenging
  • Facility maintenance: Owning and operating a manufacturing facility requires ongoing maintenance and upkeep, adding to your operational responsibilities and costs
  • Regulatory compliance: Self-manufacturing requires adherence to various industry-specific regulations, which can be complex and time-consuming to navigate
What is Co-Packing?

Co-packing, also known as contract packaging or contract manufacturing, is a business arrangement in which a company outsources its product manufacturing to a third-party manufacturer, known as a co-packer. Co-packers have their own facilities, equipment, and workforce and are responsible for producing, packaging, and sometimes distributing the product on behalf of the company that hired them. This arrangement allows businesses to focus on other aspects, such as marketing, sales, and product development, while the co-packer handles production.

For Whom is Co-Packing Best For?

Co packing is ideal solution for businesses that:

  • Do not have the resources or expertise to manage their own manufacturing facilities
  • Want to minimize the upfront investment and risk associated with building and operating their own production facilities
  • Seek to focus on their core competencies, such as product development, branding and marketing
  • Need to quickly scale their production capacity to meet increasing demand or seasonal fluctuations.
  • Operate in a highly regulated industry and can benefit from the copacker's compliance with industry standards and certifications.

The decision between self-manufacturing and co-packing will depend on your specific needs, resources, and goals.

While self-manufacturing offers greater control and flexibility, co-packing provides an opportunity to minimize investment and risk, allowing businesses to focus on other essential aspects of their operations.

Co-Packing: Pros and Cons


  • Access to specialized equipment: Co-packers often have access to specialized equipment and technology that might be cost-prohibitive for an emerging CPG brand to purchase and maintain
  • Reduced capital investment: Partnering with a co-packer eliminates the need for upfront investment in facilities and equipment, freeing up resources for other aspects of your business
  • Scalability: Co-packers can quickly scale production to meet increasing demand, allowing you to grow your business more efficiently
  • Expert knowledge and experience: Co-packers have extensive knowledge and experience in their respective industries, which can be invaluable when it comes to troubleshooting issues and optimizing your production process


  • Less control over production: When working with a co-packer, you relinquish some control over the production process, which can be a concern for some brands, especially when it comes to ensuring product quality and consistency
  • Potential higher costs: While co-packing can save on capital investment, the ongoing costs of partnering with a co-packer may be higher than self-manufacturing, depending on factors such as production volume and contract terms
  • Potential for co-packer prioritization issues: Co-packers often work with multiple clients, which can sometimes lead to issues with prioritization and meeting production deadlines
  • Finding the right co-packer: Identifying a co-packer that aligns with your brand's values, quality standards, and production needs can be a challenging and time-consuming process
Making the Decision: Factors to Consider

When deciding between self-manufacturing and co-packing, several factors should be taken into account. These include:

  1. Company size and growth projections: Consider your current production volume and anticipated growth. If you expect rapid growth, co-packing may provide the scalability you need. However, if your growth projections are more modest, self-manufacturing may be a more cost-effective option
  2. Financial resources: Evaluate your available financial resources and determine whether you can afford the capital investment required for self-manufacturing. If you have limited resources, co-packing may be a more feasible option
  3. Product complexity: Assess the complexity of your product and production process. If your product requires specialized equipment or expertise, a co-packer with experience in your industry may be better equipped to handle your production needs
  4. Availability of suitable co-packers: Research the co-packing landscape to determine if there are suitable partners available in your niche. If you can't find a co-packer that meets your requirements, self-manufacturing may be the better choice
  5. Regulatory compliance requirements: Consider the regulatory landscape in your industry and weigh the challenges of navigating compliance on your own against the benefits of partnering with a co-packer experienced in managing these requirements.

Tips for Success

Regardless of whether you choose self-manufacturing or co-packing, there are several steps you can take to maximize the success of your chosen strategy:

  • Develop a robust quality control program: Implementing a thorough quality control program will help ensure that your product consistently meets your brand's quality standards, regardless of whether you're self-manufacturing or working with a co-packer
  • Foster strong communication: Clear and open communication with your production team or co-packer is essential for identifying and addressing any issues that may arise throughout the production process
  • Continually evaluate and optimize your production process: Regularly assess your production process to identify areas for improvement and implement changes as needed. This will help to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and maintain a high level of product quality.

Tips for Success

  • Stay informed about industry trends and best practices: Keep up to date with the latest developments in your industry and incorporate best practices into your production process. This will help ensure that your brand remains competitive and continues to meet the evolving needs of your customers.
  • Plan for the future: As your brand grows, your production needs will likely change. Continually evaluate your self-manufacturing or co-packing strategy to ensure it remains aligned with your brand's long-term goals.

The decision between self-manufacturing and co-packing can be a critical one for emerging CPG brands.

By carefully weighing the pros and cons of each option, considering various factors such as company size, financial resources, and product complexity, and taking steps to ensure the success of your chosen strategy, you can establish a solid foundation for your brand's growth and overall success.

Co-Packing Fundamentals

Co-packing, also known as contract packaging or contract manufacturing, is a business model where an emerging Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brand outsources its manufacturing and packaging operations to a third-party company.

This partnership allows CPG brands to focus on their core competencies, such as product development, marketing, and sales, while the co-packer handles the production process.

If you’ve read our guide on self-manufacturing vs. co-packing, and you’ve decided that co-packing might be right for you, here’s what you need to know.

Selecting the Right Co-Packer for Your Brand

Finding the right co-packing partner is crucial to your brand's success. Here are some tips to help you choose the best co-packer for your needs:

  • Research potential co-packers: Start by creating a list of potential co-packers that have experience in your industry or product category. Look for co-packers with a strong track record of success, positive client testimonials, and a reputation for quality and reliability.
  • Assess their capabilities: Evaluate the capabilities of each potential co-packer to ensure they can meet your production needs. Consider factors such as their production capacity, equipment, packaging capabilities, and any specialized services they offer.
  • Evaluate their experience with your product type: Choose a co-p-packer that has experience working with products similar to yours. This will ensure they have the necessary expertise and understanding of the specific requirements and challenges associated with your product type.
  • Review their certifications and regulatory compliance: Verify that the co-packer holds relevant certifications and complies with industry-specific regulations. This is particularly important for products in regulated industries, such as food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, or cosmetics.
  • Visit their facility: Arrange a visit to the co-packer's facility to assess their operations and get a sense of their work culture. This will allow you to evaluate their cleanliness, organization, and overall production process. A well-maintained facility is a good indicator of a reliable co-packer.
  • Assess communication and responsiveness: Effective communication is crucial when working with a co-packer. Gauge their responsiveness and willingness to collaborate during the selection process, as this will set the tone for your ongoing partnership.
  • Discuss pricing and contract terms: Request a detailed pricing quote and review the proposed contract terms. Be sure to discuss any minimum order quantities, payment terms, and other important aspects of the agreement. It's essential to have a clear understanding of all contractual obligations before entering into a partnership.
  • Request references: Ask the co-packer for references from current or former clients. Reach out to these references to gather insights into the co-packer's performance, reliability, and responsiveness.

Nurturing a Successful Co-Packing Partnership

Once you've selected a co-packer, it's essential to cultivate a strong working relationship to ensure ongoing success. Here are some strategies to help you maintain a successful co-packing partnership:

  • Establish clear expectations: Communicate your expectations regarding product quality, lead times, and other essential aspects of the production process. Provide detailed product specifications and ensure that both parties have a clear understanding of the desired outcomes.
  • Maintain open lines of communication: Regular communication is key to addressing potential issues and ensuring a smooth production process. Schedule regular check-ins with your co-packer to discuss progress, address concerns, and maintain a collaborative relationship.
  • Monitor performance: Keep track of your co-packer's performance, including product quality, lead times, and adherence to contract terms. If issues arise, work together to develop a plan for improvement.
  • Be flexible and adaptable: Recognize that challenges may arise during the production process, and be prepared to adapt as needed. Collaborate with your co-packer to address issues and find creative solutions that benefit both parties.
  • Foster a long-term partnership: Treat your co-packer as a valuable partner in your business's success. By investing in a long-term relationship, you can build trust, streamline your operations, and enjoy the benefits of a strong co-packing partnership.

In conclusion, co-packing can be a valuable solution for emerging CPG brands looking to scale their operations without the need for significant capital investment. By understanding the fundamentals of co-packing, carefully selecting the right co-packer, and nurturing a successful partnership, you can leverage this business model to grow your brand and reach new heights in the competitive CPG landscape.

Self-Manufacturing Fundamentals

Self-manufacturing, also known as in-house production, refers to the process of producing your consumer packaged goods (CPG) within your own facilities, using your own equipment and staff. This approach enables you to have greater control over the entire production process, from product development to distribution.

If you’ve read our guide on self-manufacturing vs. co-packing, and you’ve decided that co-packing might be right for you, here’s what you need to know.

Key Components of a Self-Manufacturing Operation

To set up a successful self-manufacturing operation, you'll need to consider several key components:

  • Production facility: Identify a suitable facility for your production needs, taking into consideration factors such as size, location, and accessibility.
  • Equipment: Determine the equipment required for your specific production process, including machinery for mixing, filling, and packaging your products.
  • Raw materials and supplies: Establish relationships with reliable suppliers to source the raw materials and packaging materials required for your products.
  • Workforce: Hire and train a skilled workforce to manage and operate your production facility, including production managers, machine operators, and quality control specialists.
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs): Develop comprehensive SOPs to guide your production process, ensuring consistency and quality across all aspects of your operation.
  • Quality control and testing: Implement a robust quality control and testing process to ensure your products consistently meet your desired quality standards.
  • Regulatory compliance: Ensure your self-manufacturing operation complies with all relevant industry regulations and standards, such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and food safety requirements.

Steps to Set Up and Manage Your Self-Manufacturing Operation

Develop a comprehensive business plan: Begin by creating a detailed business plan outlining your self-manufacturing goals, financial projections, and strategies for achieving success. This plan will serve as a roadmap for your self-manufacturing operation and help you secure financing if needed.

  • Secure financing: Determine the amount of funding required to set up your self-manufacturing operation, taking into account initial investments and ongoing operational expenses. Explore various financing options, such as bank loans, investors, or government grants, to secure the necessary capital.
  • Identify the ideal production facility: Research and visit potential production facilities to find the best fit for your needs, considering factors such as size, location, and accessibility. Don't forget to take into account any necessary renovations or modifications that may be required to accommodate your production process.
  • Acquire equipment and machinery: Research and invest in the appropriate equipment and machinery required for your specific production process. This may include equipment for mixing, filling, and packaging your products.
  • Source raw materials and supplies: Establish relationships with reliable suppliers to source the raw materials and packaging materials required for your products. Ensure that your suppliers are able to meet your quality standards and can deliver materials consistently and on time.
  • Hire and train staff: Recruit a skilled workforce to manage and operate your production facility, including production managers, machine operators, and quality control specialists. Provide comprehensive training to ensure that your staff is well-versed in your production processes and quality standards.
  • Develop and implement SOPs: Create standard operating procedures (SOPs) to guide your production process, ensuring consistency and quality across all aspects of your operation. Regularly review and update your SOPs to incorporate any changes or improvements to your production process.
  • Establish quality control and testing protocols: Implement a robust quality control and testing process to ensure your products consistently meet your desired quality standards. This may involve regular product testing, equipment maintenance, and process audits.
  • Ensure regulatory compliance: Familiarize yourself with all relevant industry regulations and standards, such as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and food safety requirements. Ensure that your self-manufacturing operation complies with these regulations and maintains any necessary certifications.
  • Monitor and optimize your operation: Continuously evaluate your self-manufacturing operation to identify areas for improvement and optimization. This may include investing in new equipment, refining your production processes, or exploring opportunities for cost savings.

Self-manufacturing can be a viable option for emerging CPG brands seeking greater control over their production processes, product quality, and intellectual property protection.

By carefully considering the advantages and disadvantages of self-manufacturing, understanding the key components of a successful operation, and following the steps outlined above to set up and manage your own production facility, you can position your business for long-term success and growth!

Third Party Logistics (3PL) Fundamentals

If you’ve been following along in our Guide to Starting a Successful CPG Brand, you might have noticed a little trend — starting a CPG company is difficult to do alone!

Along with building your brand, exploring the various sales channels, and mapping out pricing (like that’s not enough), you’ll also need to think about how to efficiently manage your supply chain.

To successfully scale your business and ensure your products reach customers on time, you may want to consider working with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider.

This chapter will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of 3PL fundamentals for CPG brands, helping you determine if partnering with a 3PL is the right choice for your business.

What is a Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Provider?

A 3PL provider is an external company that specializes in managing all or part of your supply chain operations. These services can include transportation, warehousing, inventory management, order fulfillment, and even value-added services like kitting and packaging.
By outsourcing these tasks to a 3PL, you can focus on your core competencies and dedicate more time and resources to growing your business.

The Benefits of Partnering with a 3PL for CPG Brands

There are several advantages to partnering with a 3PL provider for your CPG brand:

  1. Cost Savings: 3PLs can often negotiate lower rates on transportation and shipping, thanks to their volume discounts and industry connections. Additionally, since you won't need to invest in your own warehousing and transportation infrastructure, you can save on capital expenses.
  2. Scalability: As your CPG brand grows, so will your logistical needs. A 3PL provider can help you scale your operations seamlessly, as they have the necessary infrastructure and resources to accommodate fluctuating demand.
  3. Expertise: 3PLs have extensive experience and expertise in logistics, ensuring that your products are stored, handled, and shipped efficiently and professionally. This can help you maintain a high level of customer satisfaction and minimize the risk of errors or delays in your supply chain.
  4. Access to Technology: Many 3PL providers have invested in advanced supply chain technology, such as warehouse management systems (WMS) and transportation management systems (TMS), which can provide you with valuable insights and data to optimize your operations.
  5. Flexibility: A 3PL provider can offer flexibility in managing your logistics needs, as they can adapt to changes in demand, seasonality, or other factors affecting your business.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a 3PL Provider

When selecting a 3PL provider for your CPG brand, consider the following factors:

  1. Industry Experience: Look for a 3PL provider with experience in the CPG industry, as they will have a better understanding of the unique challenges and requirements of your business.
  2. Geographic Coverage: Ensure the 3PL provider has the necessary geographic coverage to reach your target markets, whether that's local, regional, or international.
  3. Services Offered: Evaluate the range of services offered by the 3PL provider to ensure they can meet all your logistical needs, from warehousing to order fulfillment and beyond.
  4. Technology Capabilities: Assess the 3PL's technology capabilities, such as their WMS and TMS systems, to ensure they can provide you with the data and insights you need to optimize your supply chain.
  5. Customer Service: A 3PL provider should offer responsive and proactive customer service, helping you address any issues that may arise in a timely manner.
  6. Cost: While cost is an important factor, don't automatically choose the cheapest 3PL provider. Instead, consider the overall value they can provide, taking into account the quality of their services, technology, and customer support.

How to Establish a Successful Partnership with a 3PL

Once you've chosen a 3PL provider for your CPG brand, follow these steps to establish a successful partnership:

1. Clearly Define Expectations

Communicate your expectations and goals to the 3PL provider from the outset. This includes discussing service level agreements (SLAs), key performance indicators (KPIs), and any specific requirements your CPG brand may have.

2. Collaborate on Implementation

Work closely with the 3PL provider during the implementation phase to ensure a smooth transition. This may involve integrating your systems with theirs, establishing communication protocols, and training your team on any new processes.

3. Regularly Review Performance Metrics

Monitor the performance of your 3PL provider using the agreed-upon KPIs and metrics. Regularly review these measurements and discuss any areas for improvement or optimization with your 3PL partner.

4. Maintain Open Communication

Foster a strong working relationship with your 3PL provider by maintaining open lines of communication. Encourage feedback from both sides and be proactive in addressing any concerns or issues that may arise.

5. Continuously Optimize

As your CPG brand grows and evolves, work with your 3PL partner to identify areas for optimization within your supply chain. This can help you maintain a competitive edge and continue to meet the needs of your customers.

Third-party logistics providers can be a valuable asset for CPG brands looking to streamline their supply chain operations and focus on their core business.

By understanding the fundamentals of 3PL for CPG brands and following the steps outlined in this chapter, you can make an informed decision about partnering with a 3PL and set the stage for a successful and mutually beneficial relationship.

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