What to Know About Bottled Water Copacking

When it comes to the food and beverage industry, water is more than just a bare necessity. It’s an entire world. From fresh French-alps springs to deep Hawaiian aquifers, sources for bottled water have gone global, launching water from what was seen as a basic living requirement to a specialty good. And it’s only growing in demand and diversity.

Bottled water sales grew almost 5% from 2020 to 2021. Although part of this growth could be blamed on the pandemic, the health appeal of water over sugary drinks also seems to be driving revenue in this sector.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to seize on opportunities in this exciting arena, you may have asked: how do I bottle my own water? That’s where it’s important to understand how bottled water copacking works.

What is Bottled Water Copacking?

As with any packaged food or beverage product, you’ll need to work with a copacker to start bringing your bottled water to market. What is a copacker? A copacker is a manufacturer specialized in creating certain food or beverage products for other brands to resell. Unlike consumer-facing companies, bottled water copackers don’t offer any direct-to-consumer products. Instead, they source, bottle, label, package and blind-ship bottled water under other organizations’ branding.

Some benefits to working with a bottled water copacker include:

  • Streamlined bottled water production
  • Convenient distribution options
  • Diverse product manufacturing capabilities (e.g. sparkling, spring, mineral, etc.)
  • Reasonable pricing
  • Low immediate overhead costs

Who Does Bottled Water Copacking?

Now that we covered the role of bottled water copackers, how do you go about finding one? Unfortunately, like in most food and beverage sectors, finding the right copacker can be tricky. Unlike consumer-facing brands, business-to-business bottled water manufacturers barely advertise. You could rely on a word-of-mouth referral, but be careful to vet the bottled water copacker before purchasing anything. And if you end up hiring a broker, just know you’ll end up spending some large upfront cash just for an introduction.

The best option for finding a bottled water copacker is to use a copacking platform like GhostLabel. Not only is it free to sign up, but you can conveniently develop products using an online request form and receive competitive bids from trusted, verified bottled water copackers. Receive samples, communicate feedback and even pay using this comprehensive, all-in-one solution.

How Do I Work With a Bottled Water Copacker?

Working with a bottled water copacker is much like working with any other food or beverage manufacturer. Here are a few considerations:

  • Volume is your friend. When it comes to getting better pricing and turnaround, remember that ordering a higher volume will solve both issues. As your order quantity increases, your price-per-unit plummets. And, since you become a higher-volume customer, your orders will tend to be prioritized over smaller, “one-off” orders. Sure, you might not be ready to pull the trigger on a high-volume order. But it doesn’t hurt to ask about price breaks. It might make sense.
  • Test out samples before purchasing. People are creatures of convenience. So, if a bottled water copacker offers you a private-label product, and you don’t ask for a sample, they’re going to send you an invoice right off the bat. It’s easier for them to just take and order and fulfill it. That’s where you need to be diligent. Ask your bottled water copacker for a sample so that you and your team can try it first before purchasing a large amount.
  • Shipping cost is part of your unit cost. What most food and beverage startups ignore is shipping costs. A $50 shipping cost might not seem like a big deal in the short term. But, multiplied over 20 orders, that’s $1,000 in shipping costs alone. In an ideal world, you could negotiate free shipping. But that just doesn’t happen. So you need to make up for those costs when you sell your product. To do so, calculate that shipping cost across however many units you ordered and add that number to your unit cost. When you calculate your final in-store price, make sure to include it. Water is heavy, and shipping it large distances is expensive. While foreign-imported water may seem appealing and fetch a high price, extra shipping costs can eat away at profits. When buying bottled water, consider working with a regional copacker.
  • Verify your copacker first. This a tough, but important, step for working with bottled water copackers–or any copacker for that matter. If the copacker you’re working with was referred to you by a friend, ask your friend (the copacker won’t tell you) if they’ve manufactured any other products for any other brands. If they can’t list off one brand for which they’ve created products, it’s a good idea to keep looking. The safest route is to use a safe platform like GhostLabel so you know you’re communicating with a verified copacker with a clean history.

You’ve taken the first step in developing your bottled water brand. Speak with our experts about how to take your idea further.

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