Recap: A Road to Co-Packing

In Spring 2023 we collaborated with Community Co-Pack for the A Roadmap to Co-Packing Series.

This past April and May we were proud to partner with our friends at Community Co-Pack, a low-barrier contract manufacturer that incubates and scales BIPOC- and women-led businesses, on a virtual six-week drop in education series. “A Roadmap to Co-Packing” was led by co-packing expert Ashley Sutterfield, founder and director of Sage Expert, with generous support from Oregon Community Foundation’s Thriving Entrepreneurs Grant Program. 94 businesses representing 24 Oregon cities/towns along with WA, NY, TX, IL, AR, and PA registered for the series with 237 participants joining and/or viewing the various Zoom sessions. 

Here’s what participants had to say about the series:

  • “Great resources and community. It was nice to find out that others had similar experiences and have come up with dedicated solutions. I also love how it is a reality check when it comes to volume and pricing etc. People need to know these things.”
  • “The best overview of how to address the complex question to use, or not to use a co-packer.”

And some highlights of what they learned: 

  • “Be patient and wait for the exact right fit with a co-packer – because that partner is out there for everyone.”
  • “Make sure the co-packer I choose fits my needs - I really found the spreadsheets and formulas helpful.”
  • “Since I’ve started and done one run of co-packing, the last class about forecasting both production and sales was so helpful!”
  • “Co-packers a lot of the time are small businesses like myself. You have to find the right co-packer and not settle so you have a good relationship. I might want to be a co-packer for other businesses and that is something I never thought would be something I did. Slow and steady wins the race!” 
  • “Understanding the process and the cost involved in testing and pricing.”

Workshop topics included: 

  • Holistic Business Review – Grounding in your long-term goals, vision and values for your business. This process helps direct the co-pack search ensuring it is truly the right fit for your business.
  • Production Options – A partnership with a co-packer can feel like a silver bullet solution, we dove in to understand production options and their implications.
  • Formulation and Sourcing – How to prepare your formulation and sourcing for a co-packing relationship, including sharing a formulation template.
  • Co-Packer Search Process – How to search for a co-packer and which questions to ask.
  • Testing and Pricing – Understanding of the testing and pricing process.
  • Production & Beyond – Reviewing production, logistics around products, and how to truly build a strong relationship with your co-packer.

From our friends at Community Co-Pack:

“It was really valuable to walk through this class series with the entrepreneurs that were considering co-packing. It helped prepare the entrepreneurs in a much more holistic way than I can during the interest call process. I witnessed several entrepreneurs re-think their approach to both product and their business model. Shannon from Parma took the course while considering moving her product into co-packing and ended the course deciding to offer co-packing services to her fellow Southern Oregon based business. That was a big win! I am really glad to have this course as a continuing resource for new businesses that are contemplating co-packing. I’ve already sent out the recordings to several new businesses.” - Hannah Community Co-Pack

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