What is Contract Packing?

Contract packing, also known as co-packing, offers a strategic approach to managing your product’s packaging needs.

Definition: Contract packing is the outsourcing of your product’s packaging tasks to a specialised external company. This can encompass a wide range of services, including:

  • Filling containers (bottles, bags, boxes)
  • Labelling and applying barcodes
  • Assembling kits or bundles
  • Shrink wrapping and palletising
  • Quality control inspections

Efficiency and agility are paramount in business. Contract Packing has consequently emerged as a powerful tool for businesses to achieve these goals, offering a range of benefits that resonate with modern market demands. 

Evolving consumer preferences, faster time to market and cost optimisation are all key relevancies of contract packing. Not to mention enhancing your brands imagery, improving supply chain efficiency and compliance and risk mitigation. 

How Does Contract Packing Differ from In-House and Traditional Packing Services? 

Many businesses initially handle packaging in-house. However, this approach can be resource-intensive, requiring investment in:

  • Equipment: Purchasing and maintaining packaging machinery can be costly.
  • Staff: Training and employing staff dedicated solely to packaging adds to your overhead.
  • Space: Warehousing packaging materials and finished goods takes up valuable space.

Contract Packaging vs. Traditional Packaging Services:

Traditional packaging services might simply provide pre-made boxes or labels. Contract packaging goes beyond that, offering a complete, customised solution. Here’s how:

  • Scalability: Contract packers can adapt their services to meet fluctuations in your demand, ensuring you’re not paying for unused capacity.
  • Expertise: They possess the knowledge and equipment to handle complex packaging processes efficiently.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: They can often achieve economies of scale, reducing your overall packaging costs.
  • Compliance: They stay up-to-date on labelling and safety regulations, ensuring your products meet legal requirements.

By partnering with a contract packaging company, you free up internal resources to focus on your core competencies, like product development and marketing. 

They become an extension of your team, ensuring your products are presented professionally and reach your customers in top condition.

The Role of a Contract Packer

A contract packer specialises in packaging a wide range of products for their clients. Handling the entire process or specific elements, depending on your needs. This frees up your valuable resources and ensures your products reach your customers ready to sell. 

Services Offered by Contract Packers

The comprehensive services offered by contract packers can be tailored to your specific requirements. Here’s a glimpse into what they can typically handle:

  • Filling: From liquids and powders to tablets and capsules, contract packers have the expertise and equipment to fill various containers accurately and efficiently.
  • Labelling: Applying labels that are clear, compliant, and aesthetically pleasing is crucial. Contract packers ensure your labels meet all legal requirements and enhance your brand identity.
  • Assembly: Whether it’s creating multi-product kits or assembling complex promotional displays, contract packers can handle it all, ensuring everything arrives at your customer ready for use.
  • Secondary Packaging: This involves placing your finished, labelled product into a secondary container – boxes, shrink wrap, or custom packaging – for protection and presentation during distribution.
  • Distribution and Warehousing: Some contract packers offer additional services like warehousing your finished goods and managing their distribution to retailers or fulfilment centres.

Types of Contract Packing 

Contract packing isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The beauty lies in its adaptability to cater to a wide range of industries and product types.

Food and Beverage:

  • Primary and Secondary Packaging: From filling bottles with juice to assembling gourmet food hampers, contract packers ensure your food and beverages are presented hygienically and with eye-catching appeal. They can handle liquids, powders, and solids, offering portion control solutions like sachets and resealable pouches.
  • Labelling and Compliance: Ensuring food safety and clear labelling is paramount. Contract packers understand the specific regulations within the food industry and can handle everything from applying tamper-evident seals to printing nutritional information.

Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices:

  • Sterile Packaging: Maintaining sterility is critical in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Contract packers with specialist facilities and stringent protocols can handle aseptic filling and packaging to ensure product safety and compliance with rigorous regulations.
  • Blister Packaging: Blister packs offer a secure and convenient way to package tablets and capsules. Contract packers have the expertise and machinery to produce high-quality blister packs that meet industry standards.

Cosmetics and Beauty Products:

  • High-Quality Presentation: In the competitive beauty market, presentation is key. Contract packers can create visually appealing and luxurious packaging that reflects your brand image. This might involve shrink wrapping high-end products or assembling custom gift sets.
  • Sample Fulfilment: Distributing product samples is a great marketing strategy. Contract packers can efficiently fill, label, and ship sample packets or miniature versions of your cosmetics, ensuring a consistent brand experience.

Consumer Goods:

  • Kitting and Assembly: Contract packers excel at assembling complex kits and bundles, including electronics, toys, or homeware items. They can follow intricate instructions and ensure all components are present and correctly assembled.
  • Seasonal Packaging: From festive gift wrapping to customised summer promotions, contract packers can adapt their services to meet your seasonal marketing needs. They can handle the logistics of designing, sourcing, and applying special packaging for limited edition products or seasonal campaigns.

The Takeaway

These are just a few examples of the diverse contract packing services available. 

Regardless of your industry or product type, there’s a contract packer with the expertise to meet your specific needs. 

By partnering with a skilled provider, you can optimise your packaging process, reduce costs, and ensure your products reach your customers looking their best.

What are the Benefits of Contract Packing?

Let’s go through some potential benefits with examples of how contract packing could help your business: 

Benefit Description Example
Cost Savings Reduces overhead costs associated with packaging. Instead of buying a specialised machine for seasonal gift wrapping, a contract packer can handle this task efficiently, eliminating the upfront investment.
Flexibility and Scalability Adapts to changing production volumes. A contract packer can seamlessly increase packaging capacity for a new product launch and then scale back down after the initial rush.
Expertise and Efficiency Leverages specialist knowledge and equipment. A contract packer with expertise in sterile packaging can ensure the safe and compliant packaging of pharmaceuticals.
Speed to Market Accelerates product launches by handling all packaging aspects. A contract packer can streamline the labelling and palletising of a new beverage line, allowing it to reach store shelves faster.
Regulatory Compliance Ensures adherence to industry regulations. A contract packer familiar with food safety regulations can handle labelling and packaging for pre-packaged meals, ensuring compliance and consumer safety.


How Does Contract Packing Work?

Partnering with a contract packer can significantly streamline your product’s journey to market. Here’s a glimpse into the typical process, showcasing the collaborative approach that ensures exceptional results: 

  1.  Initial Consultation

The process begins with a comprehensive consultation. 

Contract packers will work closely with you to understand your product, target market, and desired packaging outcome. This involves discussions about:

  • Product Specifications: Sharing details like product size, weight, fragility, and any special handling requirements.
  • Packaging Needs: Discussing your vision for the packaging – its functionality, aesthetic appeal, and brand alignment.
  • Volume and Timeline: Sharing projected production volumes and desired timelines for product launch or ongoing fulfilment.
  1. Customisation

Based on your specific needs, the contract packer will develop a customised solution. This might involve:

  • Packaging Design: Collaborating on the design of the packaging itself, including materials, graphics, and labelling.
  • Sample Development: Creating prototypes to ensure the packaging meets your functional and aesthetic requirements.
  • Equipment Selection: Choosing the most appropriate equipment for filling, labelling, and assembly based on your product’s specific characteristics.


  1. Production and Assembly

Once the plan is finalised, the contract packer takes care of the entire production and assembly process. This could involve:

  • Sourcing Materials: They leverage their established supplier network to source high-quality, cost-effective packaging materials.
  • Filling and Labelling: Using specialised equipment and following strict quality control protocols, they efficiently fill and label your products.
  • Assembly and Kitting: If your product requires assembly, the contract packer will meticulously follow your instructions to create finished products ready for sale.


  1. Quality Control

Maintaining the highest quality standards is paramount. Contract packers implement rigorous quality control measures throughout the process:

  • Inspections: Regular inspections ensure product integrity, accurate filling, and proper labelling.
  • Testing: Depending on your product type, testing for factors like leak-proofness or tamper-evidence might be conducted.
  • Adherence to Regulations: Contract packers stay up-to-date on industry regulations and ensure your packaging meets all relevant safety and labelling requirements.


  1. Delivery and Distribution

The final stage involves getting your products into the hands of your customers. Contract packers offer a range of options, including:

  • Warehousing: Storing your finished goods securely until they are needed for distribution.
  • Fulfilment: Picking and packing individual orders for delivery to retailers or directly to your customers.
  • Distribution Management: Coordinating the logistics of shipping your products to your chosen destinations.

Working with a contract packer simplifies the process, allowing you to focus on what you do best – creating exceptional products. 


Choosing the Right Contract Packer

Finding the ideal contract packer is crucial for ensuring the smooth and successful presentation of your products. 

Here are some key considerations to guide you in making the best choice:

Experience and Reputation

A strong track record is a valuable indicator of a contract packer’s reliability. Look for a company with experience in your industry or with products similar to yours. Ask for references and research online reviews to gain insights into their customer satisfaction levels.

Capabilities and Capacity

Does the contract packer possess the necessary expertise and equipment to handle your specific needs? Evaluate their capabilities in areas like filling, labelling, assembly, and any other processes required for your product. Additionally, ensure they have the capacity to meet your current and projected production volumes.

Customer Service and Communication

Open and consistent communication is vital for a successful partnership. Choose a contract packer who prioritises clear communication, readily addresses your questions and concerns, and is responsive to your evolving needs. Consider their willingness to collaborate throughout the process, from initial concept development to ongoing production.

Compliance and Certifications

Your chosen contract packer must adhere to all relevant industry regulations and safety standards. This might involve certifications like ISO 9001 for quality management or BRCGS for food safety. Ask the packer to provide documentation of their certifications and inquire about their approach to staying up-to-date with regulatory changes.

Beyond these key points, consider factors such as:

  • Location: Proximity to your manufacturing or distribution facilities can streamline logistics and reduce transportation costs.
  • Sustainability Practices: If environmental responsibility is important to your brand, choose a contract packer that shares your values and offers sustainable packaging solutions.
  • Scalability: Look for a packer with the flexibility to adapt to your future growth plans, ensuring they can continue to support you as your business expands.

By taking the time to carefully assess potential contract packers, you can find a reliable partner who aligns with your business goals and contributes to the success of your product in the marketplace.


Contract packing isn’t just a service, it’s a strategic partner. By outsourcing packaging, you gain:

  • Cost Savings & Efficiency: Reduce overhead and streamline operations.
  • Faster Time to Market: Get products to customers quicker.
  • Expertise & Compliance: Leverage specialist skills and ensure regulatory adherence.

Contact us today and discover how contract packing can unlock your product’s full potential.