What is Contract Packaging or Co-Packing?

August 20, 2020
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Contract Packaging, also known as Co-Packing, is the overall process of assembling a product or good into its final finished packaging. Contract Packaging can be a simple or complex process as it is customized according to the specific scope of the product packaging, which varies greatly across the retail, commercial or trade industries. Contract Packaging and Co-packaging companies provide contract packaging services to product manufacturers and often act as an extension of the company.

Depending on the product, the final packaging may come in a variety of forms, including a thermoformed / plastic clamshell or blister packaging, a plastic bag, a standing corrugated retail point-of-sale display or a transport tray (to give a few examples). Contract packagers can be tasked with something as simple as adding a bar code sticker to a product or as complex as planning, designing, producing and fulfilling the entire package.


Because of the short-term and medium to high-volume nature of product packaging fulfillment, combined with the demand for specialty equipment and staffing hours, contract packaging services are typically outsourced to contract packaging companies. These experts are specialized at handling varying levels of the contract packaging sequence and have many in-house resources or outside partners to respond to specific product packaging needs in a timely manner. Ultimately, this gives product manufacturers and product managers great flexibility in defining the packaging process based on the needs of the product.


There are varying degrees of contract packaging services, which can be utilized independently or bundled according to the product’s overall scope and product development. Contract packaging manufacturers work with product managers and product manufacturers to consult, plan, customize and execute the process according to the timeline, pre-produced or need-to-be produced packaging components and industry requirements. Holistically, contract packaging services include:

  • Design: Contract packaging manufacturers often have an in-house design team to help design the final product packaging. This allows for trouble shooting with prototypes along the way to ensure products best fit the packaging and maximize overall production time.
  • Inventory Management / Control: Receiving and auditing inventory of the product and pre-produced packaging components (e.g. packaging, manuals, card stock, promo stickers, etc.)
  • Printing and Component Production: Sometimes packaging might include a card with artwork or a manual, which needs to be printed before inserted into a final package.
  • Plastic / Thermoform Packaging Production: Manufacturing of packaging, which can include the production of plastic / thermoformed packaging: clamshells, blisters,, trays and more.
  • Package Assembly & Fulfillment: Carefully execute product fulfillment into the packaging. This often requires a defined sequence with careful handling of the product, accuracy of placement into the packaging, inclusion of any other required items, such as manuals, coupons, and product finishing – closing, sealing, sticker placement, etc.
  • Warehousing & Distribution: Organizing and storing / housing the packaged product

No matter what scope of product packaging a product manufacturer or product manager has, simple or complex, a good contract packaging service provider will be with you every step of the way to ensure the product is delivered on time every time.

Original source: First Choice Packaging