PartnerSlate

PartnerSlate FAQs

You’ve got questions & we have the answers you need to get prepared.

Resources for New Businesses

  • Is my food or beverage brand ready for a co-manufacturer?

    Many new brands think they need a co-manufacturer, but are actually not ready to begin a successful search. Beginning a search before your brand is ready can lead to weeks of wasted time conducting cold calls, frustrating rejections, and non-responses.

    Most co-manufacturers have minimum thresholds to consider having a serious conversation with a brand. They vary by company and product category, but a company needs to meet at least one of the following criteria:

    • Successful Product in Market: You have a product with a proven record of at least $250,000 in current annual sales.

    • Ready for Manufacturing: You have a distribution deal for 25,000 units or more, AND you have a manufacturing formula ready.

    • Capital to Invest: $200,000 or more in capital to spend on getting your product in market ($100,000 at a very minimum)

    If you attempt to begin a co-manufacturer search without at least one of the above factors, you’ll likely be turned away or ignored. Fortunately, PartnerSlate has resources for you below.

  • My production needs are too small for co-manufacturers. What are my options?

    For most brands needing to produce less than 10,000 units per month, a local commercial kitchen is a good place to start. Commercial Kitchens are licensed spaces with restaurant-type equipment that enables you to make commercial-size batches of product.

    A commercial kitchen is an important step in launching a new product, as it enables you to refine your recipe, figure out production processes, become FDA/USDA compliant, source ingredients in bulk, understand shelf-life issues, and sort out packaging. Generally, a commercial kitchen works for most brands until they are selling more than $250,000 a year, sometimes $500,000.

    You can find a commercial kitchen in your area with a Google Search. Note that a “cloud kitchen” is a different kind of operation focused on restaurant food delivery. Another resource for finding a commercial kitchen is the The Kitchen Door

    If you have outgrown your commercial kitchen, you may be able to find another larger commercial kitchen in a nearby city. If you feel a commercial kitchen isn’t right for you, you can also begin a co-manufacturer search - but keep in mind you’ll need at least $250,000 in sales or $100,000 in capital to get even small co-manufacturers to take you seriously.

  • Why do I need so much capital to begin a co-manufacturer search?

    Many co-man are willing to take a bet on great product ideas, but if you haven’t reached $250,000 in annualized product sales, there’s a lot of risk involved.

    A co-manufacturer has to invest significant resources in any new project, and having capital gives a co-man confidence that you have the resources to make it a success. This is not just for covering the costs of the run (buying ingredients, packaging and paying for production), but also to successfully market, promote and sell your product.

    Many will require brands to have at least $200,000 in capital, but some may be willing to begin discussions at the $100,000 level.

  • How do I get help with a recipe or manufacturer formula?

    Brands looking to create a new recipe or convert their recipe to a manufacturer formula should look to get help from a food scientist or production consultant. Some, but not all, co-manufacturers offer this as a service as well.

    A couple resources for finding a food scientist:

    Kolabtree
    Natural Development, Inc
    A La Carte Connections

    There are many good food production consultants. A few that we recommend:

    JPG Resources
    Sherpa CPG
    Rodeo CPG

    Metzger & Roth

  • How does a manufacturer formula differ from a recipe?

    A manufacturer formula is required to produce a product at scale using industrial equipment. It requires translation of ingredient amounts into bulk weights, adapts cooking and mixing methods into industrial processes, and incorporates details such as product stabilizers and other shelf-life considerations. More on converting your recipe to a formula here!

    Having a manufacturing formula figured out before production is an important step to ensure quality of the finished product.

  • I have capital, but need general advice on how to proceed with my CPG idea. Can PartnerSlate help?

    The JPG Garden Accelerator Package is designed to help brands just starting out take the next step towards making on their product an affordable collaboration between JPG and PartnerSlate.

    If you are looking for a broader set of services, a food consulting firm can help you with end-to-end getting your idea to market, or work on piecemeal projects such as recipe formulation or distribution tactics.

    There are many good food production consultants. A few that we recommend:

    JPG Resources
    Sherpa CPG
    Rodeo CPG

    Whole Brain Consulting
    Catapult Commercialization

  • How do I raise money for my product idea?

    Unfortunately, CPG businesses are typically very capital intensive. Especially if you are experiencing strong growth! Even if you are cutting costs by outsourcing different parts of the business, such as working with a contract manufacturer. You can still only grow as fast as you can make your product. And producing your product costs money. Add that to all the typical talent and marketing costs every startup has and its a pretty big number! The good news is the food and beverage industry is red hot and there are lots of opportunities and methods to raise capital for your company. More info on getting funding for your CPG business here!

  • General Questions about Contract Manufacturing:

  • What is a contract manufacturer?

    A contract manufacturer (co-manufacturer) is a food production facility that produces food and/or beverage products on contract for other brands (their clients). They make the products to the exact specification of the brand owned formula. Many co-man’s will also package the finished products for their clients. Most smaller brands will want to find a contract manufacturer that can both produce and package their products.

  • What’s the difference between a co-packer and a co-manufacturer?

    The term “co-packer” is used often in the CPG space, but it really can mean two different types of companies. It might be in reference to a contract manufacturer or a contract packager.

    • Contract Manufacturer (co-man/co-manufacturer/co-packer): A contract manufacturer is a food production facility that produces food and/or beverage products on contract for other brands (their clients). They make the products to the exact specification of the brand owned formula. Many co-man’s will also package the finished products for their clients. Most smaller brands will want to find a contract manufacturer that can both produce and package their products.

    • Contract Packager (also called a co-packer): This is a manufacturer that strictly packages finished products. They typically receive bulk product from a brand and package it to brand specifications. While contract packagers can often handle food products, they don’t typically produce any in their facility.

  • Am I ready for a co-manufacturer?

    Working with a co-packer is a big step. It’s important that you are at the right stage in your business to go down that route. Many times brands that are just getting started think the first step is to find a co-manufacturer. But that’s often not true! First try making the product in a commercial kitchen and getting some sales. Focus on developing your business a bit before looking to scale with a co-packer.

    Now if you’ve done that and feel that your business is on a strong growth curve, you’re feeling comfortable financially, and you need the ability to scale up quickly, then it’s time for a contract manufacturer. More here on determining if you’re ready.

  • What is turnkey co-manufacturing?

    In the food and beverage industry turnkey manufacturing is typically in reference to the management and sourcing of raw materials. If a manufacturer is truly turnkey, then that means they are purchasing and storing all the raw materials needed for their customer’s production run (ingredients and packaging). In this case they will then charge a per unit fee for each finished product that they produce for their clients. This fee will include all manufacturing costs in addition to the raw material costs.

    Sometimes manufacturers will be partially turnkey, and only source ingredients, but leave the packaging up to the brand.

    If the manufacturer is not doing any sourcing of raw materials but just producing and packaging the finished product - this is called tolling.

  • Questions about Partnerslate:

  • How do I use PartnerSlate to find a co-manufacturer?

    PartnerSlate is a leading discovery and connection platform in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry connecting brands with manufacturing and packaging partners.

    Once a brand joins and creates a free profile providing information about their business, they can then create a project with detailed information about their product and production needs. Brands can then submit that project for PartnerSlate Matching, which is our concierge service where we review your project and get it matched with 3 manufacturers that have capabilities that fit the criteria in the project. We streamline the introduction and onboarding process so you can get your products to market faster. The PartnerSlate matching service fee is only due if the brand and co-manufacturer reach a successful production run. If the project doesn’t move forward after we make the introduction than there is no cost to you!

  • What types of manufacturers are available on Partnerslate?

    The manufacturers on PartnerSlate are broken out into 3 categories. Below you'll see a description of each. Some manufacturers might fall under more than one category.

    • Contract Manufacturer
      Contract manufacturers (co-mans) are manufacturers that produce and package custom recipes for their clients. Most brands that are looking for a 3rd party manufacturer to help produce and package their proprietary recipe are going to be looking for a contract manufacturer. Many contract manufacturers on PartnerSlate offer additional services in addition to processing and packaging, such as R&D and product development, and sometimes even warehousing and order fulfillment. We have contract manufacturers on PartnerSlate that work across all food and beverage categories.

    • Contract Packager
      Contract packagers are just that, packagers or re-packers. They don't typically produce any food or beverage products, but will often handle finished product. Many contract packagers will receive bulk finished product and then re-pack that product into a different packaging format for a customer. This is common with products that have multiple steps, or are being paired and packaged with another item from a different facility (such as meal kits).

    • Private Label Manufacturer
      Private label manufacturers are similar to co-mans in that they often produce and package finished products. The difference is that they typically own the recipe vs producing a custom brand-owned recipe. Private label is the most common amongst retailer owned brands (examples: Whole Foods - 365 Everyday Value, Costco - Kirkland Signature or Kroger - Signature Truth). These private label brands will typically partner with private label manufacturers to produce products under their own label.

  • What are projects?

    The first step for a brand before connecting with a manufacturer is creating a project. Brands can create projects for each individual product that they are working on. A project is a product brief or overview that includes all the important information needed for a product to be manufactured. Once a brand has created a project, they can then either submit that project for PartnerSlate Matching, where we get it matched with co-manufacturers that have the right capabilities for the project, or submit it directly to a specific manufacturer from their profile.

    Projects are private and viewable only by the brand until a brand chooses to share their project with a manufacturer through an inquiry.

    Brands can store product related documents, such as formulas, product photos, or packaging specs inside a project as well as keep internal notes and collaborate on a project with other members of their team.

  • How does PartnerSlate Matching work?

    Once a brand creates a detailed project they can submit that project for PartnerSlate Matching. PartnerSlate Matching is our concierge service where we review your project and get it matched with 3 manufacturers that have capabilities that fit the needs of the project. We streamline the introduction, document sharing and onboarding process so you can get your products to market faster.

    The PartnerSlate matching service fee is success based, meaning we only charge our matching fee if a brand reaches a successful production run with one of the PartnerSlate recommended co-manufacturers. If the project doesn’t move forward after we make the introduction than there is no cost to the brand!

    Sometimes if a project is not complete or not a good fit for the manufacturers on PartnerSlate, we will reach back out to the brand and let them know.

  • How much does PartnerSlate cost?

    PartnerSlate is totally free to sign up and get started. Brands can create a detailed profile and a project for their product and then submit it for PartnerSlate Matching, where we will connect you directly with manufacturers that have the capabilities to produce your product.

    The PartnerSlate Matching fee is dependent on the project and one of our account managers can work with you to determine the price. This fee is only success based however, meaning we only charge our matching fee if a brand reaches a successful production run with one of the PartnerSlate recommended co-manufacturers. In other words if your product doesn’t get produced, then there is no cost to you!

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