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Co-Packers Glossary and Explanation of Terms use in the food packaging industry

United States Co-Packing Glossary

Co-packers manufacture and package foods for other companies to sell.  There are several terms for "co-packers" such as contract packaging, product development, incubators, and some shared use kitchens. .  Entrepreneurs choose to use the services of copackers for many reasons.  Copackers can provide entrepreneurs with a variety of services in addition to manufacturing and packaging products.  They can often help in the formulation of the product.  The copacker may function only as a packer of other people's products or may be in business with his own product line.  They may be, in fact, manufacturing several competing products.  The range of services available from a copacker will vary depending on the size and experience of the copacker and the type of facilities and the capacity of their plant.


  • Aggregator: An aggregator gathers products from multiple producers and markets the products to buyers or processes them into value-added goods.
  • Contract Packager - Contract packagers have a wide range of equipment to set up workstations unique to one project. Such as repackaging bulk to consumer sized packaging.
  • Co-Packer - CoPackers are the next step in scaling up after you have perfected your  formula or recipe, and are ready to scale up. They can also help when you need specific production abilities, thaat you can't do, like cold fill, carbonated beverages, etc. A copacker can use ingredients, recipe, and packaging materials supplied by the client or obtain them (usually marked up!). Upon completion of the manufacture and packaging of the product, the client markets the finished goods.
  • Commercial Kitchen - A licensed kitchen is an inspected, registered commercial kitchen with a license to produce foods for commercial sale, n where foods intended for sale can be safely made, in accordance with laws and regulations.
  • Community kitchen: A kitchen that is generally owned by a public entity or a community-based organization, such as a community center or technical college, and is publicly available for use by community members. They may or may not have licenses that allow others to produce foods for sale in the kitchen. You must ask them!
  • Distributor: A distributor moves goods from producers, aggregators, and/or wholesalers to buyers, including processors, institutions, restaurants, retailers, and consumers. Distributors can be local, regional, national, or international. The particular activities a distributor performs can vary greatly, from merely brokering a sale and arranging for transport to aggregating, marketing, and delivering products.
  • Good agricultural practices (GAP)/Good handling practices (GHP): A series of best practices designed to minimize the risk of food contamination through documentation of how food was produced, handled, and stored. Farmers and produce suppliers throughout the supply chain can obtain GAP and/or GHP certification through voluntary independent audits.
    For general information on GHP and GAP or see the United States Department of Agriculture's Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices Audit Verification Program: User's Guide . Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan: A plan that is federally mandated for certain processors, manufacturers, distributors, and others who prepare specified foods; juices, fish and seafood, meat, and poultry; for consumption. For more information on HACCP plans
  • Incubator -  also known as culinary incubators, they help food businesses get started. They may provide kitchen rental but usually have business development training, and access to services such as legal aid, packaging, label printing, and distribution. Some are free, funded by governments or universities; others are for profit and charge a fee.
  • Liability coverage: Insurance coverage that protects a producer if someone is injured on a property or by a product. Specifically, general liability insurance provides coverage for claims brought against a producer that are not product related;Product liability insurance provides coverage for claims related to a producer's product; for example, a customer purchases a dozen eggs, claims the eggs made her sick, and sues the producer for food poisoning. For more information see Farmers Market Coalition, Farmers market insurance: an introduction to policy types & common terms at
  • Private Label - These copackers can do short run and small batches, and put your label on it, using your recipe or standard recipes and offer help with recipe and formulation.

Choosing a Co-Packer

You will want to choose a co-packer who has experience making the type of product and packaging that you need.  You may also want to choose a co-packer that is located close to you or your source materials and/or market or distribution centers to reduce costs.

See this page for much, much more about co-packers, like advantages, disadvantages and how to choose a copacker.

The following list consists of companies in United States that have co-packing capabilities. This list is neither all-inclusive, nor is it meant to serve as an endorsement.

If you are a co-packer wishing to be added to this list, add your information here.


Where can I find more information about canning?

For more than 250 specific, simple recipes with step-by-step directions and photos; and general information on canning and food preservation, see this page.