INDUSTRY VOICES: ADOMAS PRANEVICIUS, MYDRINK BEVERAGES/DRINKPRENEUR

Bottling that blockbuster beverage: How to choose the right contract manufacturer

By Adomas Pranevicius

- Last updated on GMT

'Bottling Season at Alagash Brewery' in Portland, Maine. N.B. The company is not a contract bottler so photo is purely illustrative (Alagash Brewing/Flickr)
'Bottling Season at Alagash Brewery' in Portland, Maine. N.B. The company is not a contract bottler so photo is purely illustrative (Alagash Brewing/Flickr)

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage

Adomas Pranevicius, general manager of MyDrink Beverages tells BeverageDaily.com readers how to choose the right contract manufacturer for their product – and why it's vital to assess everything from capabilities to communications and returns policies.

BD: Adomas – There are hundreds of contract bottlers out there, but assessing their capabilities can be a dark art for smaller brands. Who should you work with, and how important is it that they have expertise in filling your precise product?

AP:​  The decision can be a tough one, and can play a key role in the success or failure of a brand. You have to know what kind of product you want to produce before analyzing who can help you – this helps you ascertain your technological requirements and matching these to your financial situation before you begin.

Technology, Company Policy and Communications are the most important factors in my opinion.

TECHNOLOGY

Is a given contract manufacturer working with water-based beverages (energy drinks, sports drink, soft drinks), dairy drinks or alcohol drinks? You need to understand whether they are specialized enough to help you.

What type of filling technology do they use – hot fill, cold fill or another? At this point you should already know the requirements of filling for your product. Don’t go any further if the manufacturer is unable to offer you a right filling technology.

A linked question is concerns the type of packaging the bottler is offering? Is it PET, glass or cartons? How flexible might they be in terms of using your own packaging?

Some manufacturers only offer a few different packages and are not willing to cater for alternatives.

COMPANY POLICY

Does the manufacturer meet your technological requirements? Well, that’s a good start but you then need to analyze its company policy and ethos.

It’s vital to determine whether a contract manufacturer is interested in working with you. Some questions to ask: ‘Are they are working with entrepreneurs or SMEs?’ What are their minimum order quantities?’ N.B. These demonstrate their flexibility or lack thereof.

Sometimes you can negotiate a better deal, so it pays to be patient and seek for the opportunities.

Pricing structure and payment terms. Some manufacturers only show the final price. Personally, I avoid working with such bottlers, as it suggests a lack of transparency.

You need to know the precise cost of packaging, filling cost, labeling and ingredients cost. Crucially, you need to know their payment terms.

Production planning and queues. Some contract manufacturer have three to six month queues, I even know a few who have forward bookings for one to two years! So you must find out when your order can be fulfilled.

Product return policy. This is a tricky question. Product spoilage is a real possibility, and if it occurs you’ll see how transparent and how reliable your partner is. Discuss it in advance.

Certificates.  Before starting production you need to know your certification requirements. Bear in mind that some retailers ask for specific certificates, so plan ahead to work out what you need from the bottler.

Raw materials. Sometimes contract manufacturers are not willing to work with other raw material suppliers. So find out if you’ll be able to supply them with your own raw materials for production.

COMMUNICATIONS, ETC….

Communication. It’s important to understand their quality of communication. English isn’t spoken everywhere in Europe, so a language barrier can spring up. Naturally, the speed of communication is very important as well.

Current clients and product. Sometimes contract manufacturers decline to fill products due to the fact that you intend to launch a beverage in direct completion with another client. With this in mind, it’s wise to check out their existing client list in advance.

International exhibitions. Is the contract manufacturer attending exhibitions? If so, it’s very useful to meet your partner at exhibitions to strengthen relations and discuss next steps.

Last but not least. You have​ to go and check the factory by yourself. We are always making visits and checking factories belong to the companies that we work with. It’s very important to assess the quality of facilities, meet their staff and to understand their motivation.

In conclusion, we always advise that you only work with reliable factories. A decision to choose a wrong contract manufacturer could be your last one. Don’t make this mistake!

Adomas Pranevicius is general manager of MyDrink Beverages, a beverage innovation company that also organizes beverage startup incubation event DrinkPreneur Live!

Adam

 

my drink

 

drinkp

Want to contribute an article for our INDUSTRY VOICES series - offering advice, a more in-depth interview or an opinion on an important industry issue? Please email ben.bouckley@wrbm.com

Related news

Related products

show more

Our approach to stevia sustainability

Our approach to stevia sustainability

Cargill | 30-Jul-2020 | Product Presentation

As consumers demand greater clarity around the foods they eat, sustainable production is often a key part of a product's story. Cargill stevia leaf...

Delivering optimal sweetness with stevia

Delivering optimal sweetness with stevia

Cargill | 28-Jul-2020 | Product Presentation

Sugar is high on consumers' radar these days…but for many, artificial sweeteners no longer fit the bill. Plant-based, zero-calorie stevia fills the...

Bestevia® Taste Solutions for Europe: Beverages

Bestevia® Taste Solutions for Europe: Beverages

SweeGen Inc. | 21-Jul-2020 | Product Brochure

Reformulating beverages with less sugar and no artificial sweeteners is key to reaching today’s label conscious consumers. Our Bestevia® Taste Solutions...

Brew with Confidence and Detect Spoilage

Brew with Confidence and Detect Spoilage

Sartorius AG | 30-Jun-2020 | Product Brochure

The art of brewing and the science of microbiology are an interesting and dynamic partnership which has been centuries in the making, one cannot exist...

Related suppliers

2 comments

Buyer

Posted by James,

Looking for an intern to help put a range together

Report abuse

Very Useful

Posted by Pearl Jarrett,

Hi there

I'm launching a beverage company and I have been frustrated by the process you have just described. I found your comments useful and I will use it as a check list today.

thanks

Report abuse

Follow us

Products

View more

Webinars