PartnerSlate FAQs

Questions? We have the answers you need to get prepared.

PartnerSlate for Brands:

  • 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.

    When a brand joins PartnerSlate, they create a free profile with information about their business. Then, they create a “project” for their latest product, with detailed information about their production needs.

    Brands can then submit that project to the PartnerSlate Marketplace for a small fee, and accept invitations to connect from interested co-mans. Once they’ve found a partner, PartnerSlate streamlines the introduction and onboarding process to help get the product to market faster.

  • How many (and what types of) manufacturers are on Partnerslate?

    We currently have nearly 6,000 manufacturers in our database across food, beverage, and other CPG categories. They can be broken out into three groups, with some falling 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 third-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, 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 (co-packers) are just that: packagers or re-packagers. They don't typically produce any food or beverage products themselves, but will often handle finished product. Many contract packagers will receive bulk finished product, then re-pack that product into a different packaging format for a client. This is common with products that have multiple steps in their production process, 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-manufacturers 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 most common amongst retailer-owned brands, for example: 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.

  • Are the co-mans in your network vetted?

    Our co-mans go through a basic validation process to ensure they are businesses in good standing. We recommend brands conduct their own diligence as part of any partner engagement process, and PartnerSlate provides a convenient check-list of key validation points. We can also provide access to factory audit, verification and inspection services to further validate facility quality, which can be customized to your needs for an additional fee.

  • 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 information needed for a product to be manufactured. Once a brand has created a project, they can publish it to the PartnerSlate Marketplace, where co-manufacturers with matching capabilities can show their interest and request to connect directly. Projects are private by default, and viewable only by the brand until they choose to publish it to the Marketplace.

  • Is my project posted anonymously in the Marketplace? What information do you share?

    Your privacy is important! We don’t share your identity with a co-man until you approve their request to be connected. Until then, we only share your project details to help prospective co-mans determine interest and compatibility. If you are unsure about what details to provide, one of our Matching Advisors will work with you to confirm any information before your project is listed in the Marketplace.

    You have the option to decline an introduction with any co-mans that you do not want to work with. Once you approve a co-man’s request to connect, we will reveal your identity to the co-man and initiate a mutual NDA signing process.

  • How will co-mans find out about my project?

    Co-mans receive an alert when new projects match their interests and capabilities. They are able to browse all projects and indicate interest in those projects they wish to be connected to.

  • What happens if none of my co-manufacturer introductions work out?

    If you’re unsuccessful working with any of the co-manufacturers that connect with you via the Marketplace, PartnerSlate also offers full-service matching. More information is available below.

  • Do you offer a premium matching service?

    Yes, PartnerSlate offers a full-service matching option. With full-service matching, PartnerSlate will conduct outreach on your behalf and introduce you to up to 3 prospective partners that we pre-qualify and vet for your project. We will work with you to create a more extensive project brief and provide warm introductions to get you going with the prospective co-mans. The fee for full-service matching starts at $4,000 and depends on the complexity and size of the project.

    Please contact PartnerSlate Support or ask your Matching Advisor if you are interested in full-service matching.

  • Resources for New Businesses

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

    Many new brands think they’re ready for a co-manufacturer, but are actually not prepared to begin a successful search. Starting 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 individual production run and/or annual production total volume thresholds (“MOQ’s” or “Minimum Order Quantities”) a brand has to meet before they consider having a serious conversation. These figures can vary by facility and product category, but a brand needs to meet at least one of the following criteria:

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

    • Ready for Manufacturing: A distribution deal for 25,000 units or more AND an approved manufacturing formula.

    • Capital to Invest: At least $200,000 in capital to spend on getting your product in market ($100,000 at a minimum). More info on getting funding for your business here!

    If you attempt to begin a co-manufacturer search before reaching at least one of the benchmarks above, you’ll likely be turned away or ignored. Fortunately, PartnerSlate offers a wide range of solutions to simplify the manufacturing process, save you time and money, and connect you with the best possible manufacturing partners for your product.

  • 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 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 that most brands will need at least $250,000 in sales or $100,000 in working capital to get even small co-manufacturers to take them seriously.

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

    A co-manufacturer needs to invest significant resources in any new project, and having access to capital gives them confidence that you have the resources to make it a success. This is not just for covering the costs of the initial production run (buying ingredients, packaging, tolling fees, etc.), but also successfully marketing, promoting and selling your product.

    Many co-mans are willing to bet on a great product idea, but if the brand hasn't reached $250,000 in annualized product sales, there’s a lot of risk involved. Many co-mans 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 an existing recipe to a manufacturer formula should look for help from a food scientist or production consultant. Some (but not all) co-manufacturers may offer this as a service as well.

    A few resources for finding a food scientist:

    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. You can find out more about converting your recipe to a formula here!

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

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

    PartnerSlate has collaborated with industry-leading food and beverage consultant JPG Resources to offer the JPG Garden Accelerator Package to brands facing this exact dilemma. The resources contained within this program are designed to help you get your product from idea to shelf as efficiently as possible, including a comprehensive “Startup 101” curriculum, detailed business assessment, and personalized coaching.

    If you are looking for a broader set of services, a food/beverage consultant can help you with end-to-end getting your idea to market, or work on piecemeal projects such as recipe formulation or distribution tactics. Here are some firms we recommend:

    JPG Resources
    Boyle Brands
    Rodeo CPG

    Whole Brain Consulting
    Catapult Commercialization

  • How do I raise money for my product idea?

    Unfortunately, CPG businesses are typically quite capital intensive (especially if you’re experiencing strong growth)! Even if you’re able to cut costs by outsourcing different parts of your 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 of the typical talent and marketing costs every startup faces, and it's a pretty big number!

    The good news is, the food and beverage industry is red-hot, and there are plenty of opportunities and methods out there to raise capital for your company. More info on getting funding for your 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 brands (their clients). Many co-mans will also package the finished products for their clients–most smaller brands will typically 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 can mean two different types of companies: contract manufacturers or contract packagers:

    • Contract Manufacturer (co-manufacturer/co-man/co-packer): A contract manufacturer is a company that produces food and/or beverage products for brands (their clients) to the exact specifications of the brand-owned formula.As we mentioned earlier, many co-manufacturers can also package the finished product for their clients.

    • Contract Packager (also called a co-packer): A contract packager strictly packages finished products. They receive bulk product from a brand after it’s been manufactured and package it according to the brand’s specifications (cartons, cases, variety packs, etc.). While contract packagers can often handle food products, they typically don’t manage any steps of the manufacturing process in their facility.

  • Am I ready for a co-manufacturer?

    Partnering with a co-manufacturer is a big step, so it’s important to determine that you are at the right stage in your business to go down this route. Many early-stage brands often think the first step is to find a co-manufacturer, but that’s not often true!

    If you’re just getting started with your product, try making it in a commercial kitchen first–perfect your recipe, establish a sales record, and focus on developing your business before you start looking for a co-manufacturer. Once your business is on a strong growth curve, you feel comfortable financially, and there’s a need to quickly scale up your production, it’s time to begin your search. This article can help you determine if/when you’re ready to take this next step.

  • What is turnkey co-manufacturing?

    In the food and beverage industry, “turnkey manufacturing” is typically in reference to the sourcing and management of raw materials. If a manufacturer is truly “turnkey”, that means they are purchasing and storing all of the raw materials needed to produce their client’s product from start to finish (ingredients,packaging, etc.). They will charge a per unit fee on each finished product they produce for their clients, which includes all manufacturing and raw material costs.

    Sometimes, manufacturers will be “partially” turnkey and only source ingredients (leaving the packaging process to the brand). If a manufacturer does not source any raw materials (only produces and packages the finished product), this is called “tolling”.

  • tumblr_inline_pbpswnXOIe1tp5426_500

    Accelerate Your Idea

    Learn how to accelerate your next food or beverage product, avoid costly mistakes, and get to market faster with PartnerSlate’s Learning Center.