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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Unread 04-07-2010, 10:06 AM   #1
JohnJ
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Default Starting research on sauce packing business, co-packing

Good day!

Note: If the mods feel this is inappropriate or too business related, please let me know; move or delete as required.

My wife and I have decided to go down a new road and chapter in our life which entails opening up a small co-packing business. Along with cooking, packing and labeling our own line of sauces, and in order to make ends meet we will do packing for other people as well. Our focus is on the small guy, someone who doesn't need 250 cases of product, (we can do that), but say 40 cases, maybe fewer. Print labels (digital) and all.

A lot to consider! One thing I am truly seeking comment on from anyone who might be in the know or been around other co-packers, is a floor plan for the cooking, packing and labeling area. Generally this cooking area would be a clean room within an industrial style building with plastic air curtains and the like. I also realize that AZ has possibly some specific rules, but I am trying to get a general idea of where say a hand washing sink would be located in relationship to dual stainless sinks for the cooking and cleaning of the kettles and etc. and just general thoughts from you all on how this would best be laid out. And what should be contained outside of this clean room. I.E., should bottles be laid out outside this clean room and conveyored in with labeling done outside as well?

I know this is pretty generic and a very broad question, but I feel certain that someone may have some good thoughts on such.

Thanks a bunch for any thoughts, insight, ideas, or whatever.

John
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Unread 04-07-2010, 10:41 AM   #2
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I think the first stop is the HD. Most of them are very helpful and since they have the final say you should get them involved in the beginning and then do the floor plans.
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Unread 04-07-2010, 11:06 AM   #3
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Ditto what PorkQPine said. Getting the Health Department involved from the beginning will reduce your headaches substantially. They will work with you from the outset to make sure everything you put together is up to code. This will extend good will towards the inspectors as well and will probably give you a little grace when they come around.

Just out of curiosity, what kinds of ancillary services are you considering, if any?
Will you employ a food scientist or dietician to help scale up recipes and such and/or offer alternative recipes to reduce cost or enhance a specific flavor profile?
Will you partner with any specific distributors as well or will it be completely up to the customer to get their product out?
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Unread 04-07-2010, 11:07 AM   #4
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gonna have to contact your state Dept of AG. Trade and commerce thats who will license you
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Unread 04-07-2010, 01:00 PM   #5
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Like everyone has said, talk to your department of ag, not HD. Chances are you will fall under ag and if not they will tell you, often HD will not tell you that you don't need their approval or licensing and gladly take your money. Becareful what you wish for though. Once you open up shop, you will have tons of people wanting you to bottle their products for them but most will not know the federal regs that are required and will just expect you to take care of everything. You end up doing all the work, they get the reward. Also, once you start doing others, time for doing your own will become less and less. It is a good idea but, gotta remember to think of yourself first or you will get swallowed. There are other things to think about but, that is more than enought to keep you busy for quite a bit. Good luck!
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Unread 04-07-2010, 09:58 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for your comments! In Arizona it is the Arizona Department of Health who regulates food manufacturers and packers with primary enforcement duties held by county health departments. So far I have to start with county, get through that then go to the state then the FDA.

@Southern_Home_Boy. Our ancillary services will be 'farmed out' to laboratories. Recipes will be scaled up or down, usually up, via computer program/math AND the customer being present for the first batch/run and any tweaks added/not added during a larger batch run. Without a doubt, no matter how accurately you ramp up or multiply a recipe for gallons instead of a few quarts, things may taste different. In my belief, the customer is right and he will decide on his product, flavor profiles and etc. As for dsitributors, I have been in touch with several for my products and would be more than happy to assist our customers in expanding their product availability.

I have a lot of hurdles ahead!

I was hoping for some ideas to have so i wouldn't go in to my HD with a total blank sheet of paper, but maybe that would be best to get their input from the "git go". Industrial space where I live is inexpensive, but fitting them with clean room for packing and cooking with water and drainage is going to be one of the biggest hurdles.

@BigButzBBQ... I do fear success to a big degree. We all want success. But I guess we can take on as much as we want to handle so if it is successful we won't tend to be too greedy. As far as customers expecting this and that from us, one thing I have learned from dealing with several co-packers in this past year is to ensure a good statement of understanding as part of the confidentiality agreement. One guy, by the way in Ixonia WI, was really going to put it to me without me fully knowing it as far as quantities. That rep got fired for some reason right in the middle of working with them. That's when the facts came out.

Still open for more feedback and ideas! And sorry for being long winded
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Unread 04-07-2010, 10:17 PM   #7
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call Woody of Woody's BBQ in Waldenburg Arkansas. He is a fellow board member of the NBBQA and was gracious enough to take groups on a tour of his co packing plant in Memphis last February. Great guy, lovely wife and always willing to help. If that doesn't work let me know I have a list of private label companies you can try.
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Unread 04-07-2010, 10:18 PM   #8
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One other note: If you're doing a market analysis, be aware that one of your biggest hurdles may be finding enough people to pack for locally. Shipping costs is one of the most prohibitive factors when choosing a packer.....and keep the weight in mind when deciding to pack with glass vs. plastic.
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Unread 04-08-2010, 08:17 AM   #9
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I will be a customer if you can get the shipping costs low!
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Unread 04-08-2010, 09:04 AM   #10
JohnJ
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@bbqpitstop. I have already encountered pretty high shipping costs as they have gone through the roof. Truck shipment has been by for more economical but for a couple cases.. that's problematic.

@Jacked_Up_BBQ. THANKS! I've got a loooong way to go and so far it has been a challenge. But I do know a guy in Alabama who is helping me out and is in the process of getting a plant running again catering to the smaller guys. He is further along in the process but still several months out. Check with Dave at Kalahari Pepper Company, kalaharipepper.com. He is a bit closer.

In looking at some industrial warehouse office space, to retrofit will be pricey! Gas on the wrong side, water on the wrong side, no drains..... That's why I'm doing research first and found a ton more on the Internet last night about misc 'stuff'. The old saying of "there's no such thing as free lunch" sure is a fact!

John

Last edited by JohnJ; 04-08-2010 at 12:14 PM.. Reason: Woops... wrong state for Kalahari Pepper Co
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Unread 04-08-2010, 09:18 AM   #11
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JohnJ

If you ever need help I have worked in the packaging/labeling enviroment before. Know the equipment pretty well. Send me a PM if you ever have some questions.
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