Glossary of Co-packing Terms and Manufacturer Certifications

David Boyle
Mar 23
Glossary of Co-packing Terms and Manufacturer Certifications

In order to arm food and beverage entrepreneurs that are new to co-packing, here are industry terms that you can use so that you are speaking the same language! :) 


Minimum Order Quantity. This is an important marker for the size of the co-packer and matching whether you are the right fit for the size of your business. 



Turnkey means the Co-packer will make the entire product for you. They will order all of the ingredients and packaging on your behalf and you will pay for the finished product in one invoice. This is a common option for larger brands that have a large number of products to manage so they don’t have to get into the complexities of supply chain for multiple categories. 



Unlike turnkey, tolling means you will provide everything to the co-packer (formula, ingredients, and packaging) and they will only charge you for the use of their machines and labor, charging a “tolling fee” for the product passing through their factory. 



A lead-time is how long it takes from a confirmed purchase order to production. Prior to establishing a relationship with a co-packer, you need to be able to determine a reasonable lead-time so you can plan your supply chain accordingly. 


Line Trial 

A line trial is a small sample-size production run where the formula and packaging is tested to make sure it will work for both the customer and the Co-packer. The line trial acts as a test so you can determine what changes need to happen before scaling to a large general production. 


Process Authority 

A processing authority is defined by the FDA as a person who has expert knowledge of thermal processing requirements for low-acid foods packaged in hermetically sealed containers, or has expert knowledge in the acidification and processing of acidified foods. 

A process authority will give you a legal letter that you can present to your co-packer and the FDA, which explains the processing steps required to keep the food safe for consumption. This is required for foods which have a pH of > 4.6 which means it is a low-acid food. The processing steps are usually a combination of heat and time that is applied to create a kill-step for the growth of bacteria. 


Commercialization is the process of making a formula commercially viable. This includes finding the correct ingredients to match your formula on a commercial scale that also works on the manufacturing equipment of your co-packer. There are likely changes to both the formula and the ingredients that will need to be made to ensure shelf-life. 


Pasteurization Methods

Depending on the type of product and the pH of your product, there will be different types of pasteurization methods needed for a safe and quality product. It’s necessary to understand these so you know which contract manufacturers and packaging type that you will be using.



This is a freight trucking abbreviation that stands for a Full Truckload Shipment. A full truckload is designated for roughly 20 pallets, or 50,000 pounds of product. This is also a way to get product from point A to point B without any stops at LTL docks to ensure the product gets to your final destination as soon as possible. 



Less than truckload shipment. This is when there are less pallets than needed for a full truckload, so instead you work with a network of trucks and warehouses to deliver the pallet inside a truck with other goods as well. 



Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. This is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production. 



A Certificate of Analysis for an ingredient is different than a spec sheet. It is a batch to batch specific certificate to show that a lot of ingredients were tested and are safe. This is required to be filed for each production for each batch of ingredients. 



Think of a spec sheet like a license plate for an ingredient. A specification sheet will explain all of the key details about your ingredient. This is the sheet that you would use when you are determining whether a new ingredient would be a match when switching suppliers. 


Manufacturer Certifications:


British Retail Consortium (BRC) certificate aka BRC Food Safety Global Standard: The major areas covered by the Standards include Senior Management Commitment and Continuous Improvement; Food Safety and Quality Management System; Site Standards; Product Control; Process Control and; Personnel. Additionally, BRC certification covers food safety, quality, and also legality, which is of great concern to any stakeholder navigating the complexity of food law. 



The main feature of SQF certification is its emphasis on the systematic application of HACCP for control of food quality hazards as well as food safety. The implementation of an SQF management system addresses a buyer’s food safety and quality requirements and provides the solution for businesses supplying local and global food markets. 



Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMPs) is the main regulatory standard for ensuring pharmaceutical quality for human pharmaceuticals. Adherence to the CGMP regulations assures the identity, strength, quality, and purity of drug products by requiring that manufacturers of medications adequately control manufacturing operations. This includes establishing strong quality management systems, obtaining appropriate quality raw materials, establishing robust operating procedures, detecting and investigating product quality deviations, and maintaining reliable testing laboratories. 



Product Certifications:

Kosher Symbol


The demand for Kosher certified products has increased dramatically over the past few decades. It relies on unprocessed ingredients, requires high standards of cleanliness, and traceability is a key part of production processes. consumers are looking for reliable brands that provide transparency in food production and that have been monitored carefully. Many food companies seek Kosher certification to gain a competitive edge.


Certified Gluten Free BRCG Badge

Certified Gluten Free

The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are two regulatory bodies with defined definitions of what legally constitutes “gluten-free”. Gluten-free standards provide a step-by-step guide to help manufacturers, processors and retailers ensure products are gluten-free and to minimize the risk of contamination.  Gluten-free certification, and the label that goes along with it, shows customers that you care about more than the bottom line.


USDA organic badge

USDA Organic

Organic Certification allows a farm or processing facility to sell, label, and represent their products as organic. The organic brand provides consumers with more choices in the marketplace. The USDA protects consumer options by protecting the organic seal.

Certifiers are responsible for making sure that USDA organic products meet all organic standards. To maintain organic certification, your certified organic farm or business will go through an annual review and inspection process. 


Whole30 Approved

Whole 30 

A Whole30 product has no added sugars, no alcohol, no grains, no dairy, no legumes. While also making sure if it has animal protein that it is sustainably and responsibly sourced, so looking for organic, pastured, grass-fed, where applicable. Whole30 references a 30-day elimination diet that excludes grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol and sweeteners. Whole30 Approved partners require a designation indicating some or all of a brand’s products meet the rigorous standards of the Whole30 program and may feature a Whole30 Approved label on the packaging. 



Non-GMO Project Verified 

Non-GMO products are in demand and the Non-GMO Project Verified seal is the most trusted non-GMO label among consumers. The Non-GMO Project Verified seal gives shoppers the assurance that a product has completed a comprehensive third-party verification for compliance with the Non-GMO Project Standard. When it comes to food labeling, third-party certifications are best because they ensure the claim is unbiased, rigorous, and transparent. The credibility that comes with Non-GMO Project verification will allow your products to reach a wider customer base, assuring shoppers that your products meet the best practices for GMO avoidance. 




Certified Paleo is the Paleo Foundation’s Most Popular and Highest Level Certification for Paleo-compliant products.  Certified Paleo Products are products that contain Paleo ingredients, but may have some 21st-century processing or packaging methods allowing for shelf stability. All Products should not contain grains or pseudograins, legumes, dairy ingredients, Artificial Coloring, Preservatives,  Sweeteners, Flavorings, or Flavor Enhancers to be eligible for use of the Certified Paleo label. 




Products approved to carry the Certified Vegan logo must not contain ingredients of meat, fish, fowl, animal by-products (including silk or dyes from insects), eggs or egg products, milk or milk products, honey or honey bee products, or be clarified or finished with any animal products. In addition, no animal testing of ingredients or finished product and contain no known animal-derived GMOs or genes used to manufacture ingredients or finished products. 



Low Fodmap 

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols, which are short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols that are poorly absorbed by the body. The certification signals that the product has been independently laboratory tested in an accredited laboratory to be below the criteria thresholds that would trigger IBS type symptoms. Consumers have the confidence that they can consume the product knowing that it meets the criteria when following a low FODMAP diet. 



Low Glycemic 

The glycemic index is a measure of the effect of foods to raise blood sugar glucose levels after being eaten. To have a product certified by the Glycemic Index Foundation and be eligible to carry the low GI symbol on packaging the products need to be tested low GI by an independent laboratory based on the international standards for testing; in addition, meet strict nutritional criteria for their category and adhere to testing policy. The benefit of your product being certified with the Low GI Symbol is to have consumers reassured that your product has been accurately tested. 



Glyphosate Residue* Free Certification 

Glyphosate Residue Free certification verifies that your product/s do not contain the World’s most used herbicide. Glyphosate Residue Free certification is growing fast in the U.S. and around the world. A third party ISO 17025 accredited laboratory will test your products to make sure they do not contain glyphosate residues. The global success of the Non-GMO food market has shown that consumers are pushing for more and more transparency and pesticides is even higher on their list of concerns than GMOs. Glyphosate Residue Free products are set to take the market by storm! 


Fair Trade USA 

Now—more than ever—consumers care about the story behind the products they buy. Issues like fair incomes, environmental practices and human rights are top of mind. Fairtrade Certification is a powerful way to prioritize the lives of farmers and workers in your supply chain, all while strengthening your relationship with shoppers. 


American Grassfed Stamp

American Grassfed 

An American Grassfed Association (AGA) logo tells your customers that your animals were fed a lifetime diet of 100% forage, were raised on pasture, not in confinement, and were never treated with added hormones or antibiotics. Membership in AGA does not grant certification. No member may claim to be AGA certified or use the AGA logo until after a full and complete on-farm inspection by third-party inspector and approval from AGA. 

American Heart Association Certification

American Heart Association 

When you see the Heart-Check mark on a food product, you know it has been put through a robust certification process. Products must meet nutrition requirements that are based on science recommendations from American Heart Association statements. Additionally, products must comply with FDA and/or USDA regulations for making a coronary heart disease claim. 


100% Whole Grain Stamp from the Whole Grain Council

100% Whole Grain from the Whole Grain Council

Consumers searching the grocery aisles for authentic whole grain foods now have an effective “search tool” – the Whole Grain Stamp. Making it easy for shoppers to spot whole grain foods helps close the Whole Grains Gap and promotes a goal long sought by nutrition and medical experts. That’s why the Stamp is on more than 13,000 products in 63 countries! Busy shoppers welcome this easy shortcut for finding products offering at least a half serving of whole grains. 

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