The Complete Guide to Contract Packing

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What is contract packing?

Contract packing – also known as co-packing – is the practice of assembling and packing a manufacturer’s products into secondary packaging: boxes, packets, bags and wraps. A contract packing company gets your products retail-ready, or adapts product packaging for different retailers, markets or purposes. 

But that’s not all. It’s really a third-party logistics process and, depending on the contract packer you work with, can include everything from quality-checking a delivery from your suppliers, to packing an advent calendar, to barcoding and applying new labels to existing packaging, to redesigning and printing the product packaging for promotional samples for an exhibition.

Co-packing materials typically include various plastics, from blister or clamshell packaging to thermoformed shrink-wrap, sleeves and bags, or certain forms of cardboard boxes, containers and carriers.

Co-packing has become increasingly popular because it gives you, the manufacturer, an expert packaging service that’s flexible and agile, with none of the overheads of maintaining your own packing facilities, machines and personnel.

What sort of company uses a co-packing company – and for what products?

Climate-controlled clean room for co packing food products

Companies across all sectors rely on contract packing to fulfil their various needs. Most products are destined for the consumer, primarily via wholesale or retail outlets, but also through mailouts, exhibitions and trade shows.

And many more. Depending on the co-packing firm, you can outsource the printing and packaging of almost any form of product and its point of sale materials, all the way up to packaging for industrial products.

It isn’t just the largest companies that rely on contract packaging support to repackage goods for different markets or retailers. Small and medium-sized firms often outsource their packing needs entirely and it’s a cost-effective way to test scaling up production or to launch entirely new products or rebrand old stock.

The benefits of co-packing

Inside our Bedfordshire co-packing facility & distribution centre

What are the benefits of working with a contract packing company to outsource your product packing?

What services do contract packers offer?

Flow wrapping, shrink wrapping and other contract packing services from Codex Contract Packing

The advantage most co-packers offer is the ability to tailor their service and workflow to your exact needs. That means you can pick and choose according to where you’ll see the greatest benefits.

The most common contract packing methods

Flow wrapping

Wraps products in a plastic film as they pass along a conveyer belt. Find out more about the flow wrapping services we offer.

Shrink wrapping

Contains products in heat-responsive plastic which shrinks to form a tight seal. Find out more about our shrink wrapping services.

Sleeve wrapping

Wrapping products or a number of products in a tight plastic sleeve.


Applying an additional layer of film either for enhanced visual or protective qualities.

Pouch packing and sachet packing

Inserting products into various forms of pouches or sachets. Find out more about our sachet filling services.

Gift packing

Assembling packaging for seasonal or special occasion products and sets. 

Hand packing

Hand-picking and packing items which are more fragile, tricky to pack, or for smaller production runs where packing by hand is more cost-effective.

Relabelling and barcoding

Updating existing packaging by printing labels and stickers with new branding, new promotional messages or offers, new prices and/or retail-ready barcodes.

Tailor a co-packing service to suit your needs

Our leadership team at Codex Contract Packing

Packaging design

Including print layout design and the configuration of the packaging itself.


Including printed packaging, artwork and printed materials to be co-packed (eg manuals, brochures, cards).

Storage and stock management

Taking deliveries, storing pre- and post-packaging, and providing reports on products and associated printed/packaging components.

Quality checking and reworking

Hand-checking existing consignments or goods from a new supplier, and repackaging faulty packaging.

Package assembly and packing fulfilment

Packaging production lines and hand picking and hand packing.


Addressing, loading and shipping for onward distribution.

How much does co-packing cost?

Confectionary and solid food packing services in the UK from Codex Contract Packing

Costing a co-packing project requires taking into account a number of factors.

How large is your production run? There are usually economies of scale with co-packing, so the larger your order, the less it costs per item.

What sort of packaging do you need? Different methods require different materials, and different quantities of materials, so balancing budget against benefits is your best approach.

Do you need your packaging to be printed? The material you need printing on affects the complexity and cost.

Do you need additional services, like relabelling or end-to-end storage and distribution?

Every co-packing job requires a quote tailored to the particular task.

For a competitive quote to outsource your next contract packaging requirement – or just to find out more about which co-packing solution would work best for you and your product – get in touch with the Codex team today on 0845 838 0040 or email [email protected]

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