Contract Bottling 101 – a guide to how, what, and why contract bottling is the route to take.
Having the right packaging is key to impress your distributor, retailer, and the end consumer. As Steve Jobs once said, “Packaging can be a theatre, it can create a story” - but finding the right packaging, and getting it done the right and most efficient way is where the task gets the toughest.
Being a winery, distillery, brewery, or a private label consists of a lot of work. From production, marketing, distribution, and selling - it all takes time, effort, financial availability and planning. The main aspect of being a producer or a private label is finding the right way to bottle your products and have them labelled - which can be a tedious and expensive task when added to the various processes that are already involved in building your brand/product.
Thank your lucky stars, because, in this day and age, there’s a service to provide a helping hand with everything you need - bottling and labelling being one of them. If you’re a producer, or a newly set up private label that needs a shoulder to hold onto when it comes to bottling and labelling the right way, then the contract bottling train is the one for you to hop onto.
What is contract bottling?
Contract bottling is when you hire another company with a bottling plant to bottle your wine, beer, or spirits for you. Contract bottlers usually do the entire process from bottling your product to putting labels on them, and if your contract says so - then probably packing them up and sending your product to where it needs to be.
What does contract bottling involve?
The services a contract bottler offers can differ from company to company - depending on the contract and deal you crack with them. However, in basic terms, contract bottling involves you sending your product to the bottler, them bottling the product for you according to your requirements and then making a final packaging along with the labels as well.
Similarly, you could also crack a deal with your contract bottling company where they themselves will bottle, label, pack, and then ship the product to your said distributor. There’s also a possibility that your contract bottler might have a distribution license, in which case, they can be your distributor as well.
All this solely depends on what the contract bottling company is actually into, the different services they provide, and all-in-all, your budget of course.
Even though you’re giving all your bottling services to a contract bottler, this doesn’t mean that you have no say. It’s a service that they are providing you - which means that they will go according to your requirements. So everything from which bottle to use, how much to fill, the labels that will go on the bottle - it all depends on what you want and how you want it. The best they can do is give you a consultation on what might work for your brand and product.
Why use a contract bottling service?
Putting up a bottling plant requires a lot of work, machinery and equipment to put in place. It also requires a very trained group of people to run it and get the output that you’re likely to be looking for. This process can be quite heavy on the financial side.
That being said, as a winery, distillery, or brewery, you could have an impeccable production plant, but might not have the budget or space for your own packaging plant. Similarly, you could be a private label that is just starting out and all you have is gallons and gallons of your wine, beer, or spirits but no way to get it all bottled up and ready to hit the shelves.
This is where contract bottling comes in and offers a helping hand. Producers and private labels across the globe take the contract bottling route - especially when they don’t have the means to do so. It makes things easier for them as they don’t have to sit and map out each and every step towards the bottling process of their beverage. Once given to the contract bottler, things are usually done, set in place and then shipped back off either to the producer or directly to distributors depending on the contract set between the contract bottler and the producer/private label.
How to pick the right contract bottler?
Finding the right contract bottler depends solely on what you’re looking for in terms of services, and what your budget is. Some contract bottlers might only provide a bottling service, while other contract bottlers might offer a plethora of other services along with bottling - which would make your job easier as a whole.
So figure out what you want from your contract bottling service. It’s best to make a list of the things you want from the service and then you can gather a bunch of contract bottling services and start eliminating according to your wants and needs.
A basic checklist could be as follows (this is subjective to your requirements*)
Fits the budget
Offers bottling and labelling services
Offers final packaging (including boxes and wrapping)
Builds a good relationship with the client
Time-efficient - takes a shorter time compared to other contract bottlers.
Has the type of bottles you need and are readily available whenever you need their service
Contract bottling is the way to go if you don’t have the time, space, budget, or skill to orchestrate your own packaging plant - and taking the contract bottling route can also help you explore new ideas regarding the bottling and labelling of your product as professional contract bottlers are always open to helping and aiding in terms of not only the bottling process but also telling the story of your product with their designs and way of bottling your products to perfection.