One of the little secrets about the food business is that many food companies do not actually produce their own products. Most consumers would be surprised that even some of the largest food brands are produced by factories not owned by the brand owner. Take a look at the back of any package sometime and you can probably figure it out. Products that are “distributed by” the brand owner are most likely not produced by the brand owner. Products that are “produced by” the brand owner would most likely be actually produced in a company owned facility.
So, who does the manufacturing if not the brand owner? Well, in many cases it is a third party manufacturer who is producing various products for a multitude of customers. These are almost always highly professional and efficient operations that produce good quality products at a very good cost owing to their own economies of scale. These manufacturers are usually very closely audited and scrutinized by the brand owners for whom they produce. Many of these manufacturers are also audited and certified by third party food safety companies. The certifications require very high food safety standards and record keeping.
The challenge for smaller companies is that the costs of obtaining and maintaining the highest level of food safety certification are very high. Special staff must be hired and trained to oversee the process and changes to the manufacturing environment to meet the highest standards are often very expensive.
Ever since the inception of Pretzel Pete in the late 1990’s we have utilized a hybrid structure of the co-manufacturing model. While we have never owned any actual bricks-and-mortar manufacturing ourselves, we have had an involvement level that is unusually high for a co-manufacturing brand owner. Our process involves us sourcing our own raw materials and packaging rather than having our manufacturing partner do this for us. This allows us to fully control and monitor the raw materials that are going into our product. We also designed the actual manufacturing process that is used to season our products. In this way, we feel much more connected to our products than if we simply farmed out the entire process to a third party manufacturer.
In the coming months, we will be conducting an evaluation of our manufacturing process to see what changes may be necessary to accommodate our ongoing growth. Foremost in our mind will be how can we continue to maintain the highest level of food safety possible for our customers.