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Am I ready for a co-man? 🟡

Once a brand feels like they have outgrown their own means of production (whether that’s in-home or via a commercial kitchen), they begin to explore the idea of working with a co-man. Their thought process is often that they need to have a co-man lined up before they can even consider selling their product, because how are they supposed to sell a product they don’t have?

The issue with this next step is twofold:

  1. Manufacturers have minimums, also known as MOQs, for their productions that need to be hit
  2. Manufacturers aren’t interested in working with brands who don’t have a clear idea of where and how they will sell their products, as it means the brand will require extra flexibility that the co-man often cannot offer.

So, how to combat this?

A Go-To-Market Strategy

Before beginning the co-man search in earnest, brands need to create a solid go-to-market strategy. If this sounds unfamiliar at all, you likely aren’t ready, so head over to our resources page to read about a Go-To-Market Strategy.

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What is a Go-To-Market Strategy? 🟢

Minimum Co-Man Requirements

Here is the checklist of what you’ll need before you should begin to search for a contract manufacturer

Product Information

Product Specifications Sheet (Spec sheet): Detailed specifications outlining the desired characteristics, ingredients, composition, and quality parameters of the food product.
Commercial Formulation: The formulation of the food product, including the specific ingredients, quantities, and processing instructions.

Note - while smaller manufacturers will help you scale up a formulation, we suggest you do the work ahead of time to create a formulation based on weight, rather than approach them with a recipe.

Packaging Specifications: Information about the packaging materials, dimensions, labeling requirements, and any special packaging instructions.
Manufacturing Process Flowchart: A visual representation of the step-by-step process involved in manufacturing the food product, including the handling of ingredients, processing, and packaging.

Marketing & Sales Information

Minimum Volumes & volume projections: Contract manufacturers have minimum production volumes, so if you’re looking to work with a co-man, you need to make sure you can hit their minimums. Additionally, volume projections are very important. While you might not have concrete numbers, you need to have a general sense of range - a company looking to manufacture 5,000 units every two months will look for a very different manufacturer than a company looking to manufacture 50,000 units monthly.
Marketing strategy: a clearly defined strategy for how you will approach selling and scaling up your brand. Contract manufacturers want to work with brands long term, so having an idea of a marketing strategy going in will give them that reassurance.
Retailers: a list of retailers you are currently selling at or in conversation with, including a rough estimate of your product velocity.

Additional Nice-To-Haves

Here are some additional documents and pieces of information that would be helpful to have when approaching a co-man, but are not as necessary, especially if you are a startup brand.

Quality Control Plan: A document outlining the quality control measures and procedures to be implemented during the production process, including sampling, testing, and inspection protocols.
Allergen Information: Information on the presence of any allergens in the food product and appropriate labeling requirements.