Case Study: How BumbleBar Achieved Explosive Growth through Co-Packing
If you’ve heard a lot of buzz around co-packing, that’s no surprise as it’s becoming increasingly mainstream. More than ever, brands are seeking help and resources when it comes to getting their products and names out to consumers. At its core, a co-packer (otherwise known as contract packer) is a company that manufactures and packages products for their clients.
In fact, by adding co-packing to their business, BumbleBar, known for their deliciously nutritious organic energy bars, was able to extend their heritage and grow in volume to become the food industry titan they are today. Essentially, BumbleBar can be broken down into two entities – BumbleBar the brand and BumbleBar, the solution to your co-packing needs. For many small brands, having a company like BumbleBar is the perfect way to get a strong push out onto those retailers’ shelves. After all, they’re specialists in their field, have decades of experience behind them and while they have the capabilities of a large corporation, they’re still a rather small team and can provide the one-on-one support an upstart needs.
We spoke to Hannah, Graphic Designer at BumbleBar to find out more about their work with younger brands. She says, “We have really expanded as a co-packer so that’s more of our focus right now as opposed to the BumbleBar product line itself.”
Founded in 1995 by Liz Ward, a mother with a passion for healthy food, environmental and social activism, BumbleBar quickly became the trendsetter for honest to goodness ingredients coming together to provide a gluten-free, ethically sourced and Kosher answer to snacking-on-the-go.
So how do these brands find a co-packing conglomerate like BumbleBar in the first place? Their reputation definitely precedes them but strategies like search engine optimization certainly don’t hurt. From there, the client/co-packer relationship is pretty straight forward. As Hannah puts it, “A [co-packing client] knows what they want: they’ll come to us with a recipe, they usually will ship their ingredients to us and then we’ll produce really large runs for them.” But with a strong rep comes a lot of responsibility and BumbleBar doesn’t just accept any client!
“There are some parameters there. We have a very strict policy when it comes to what kind of products we want to bring into our facility. It has to be gluten-free, most of our products are Kosher, and we’re vegetarian so absolutely no dairy or meat are allowed,” says Hannah. She goes on to add, “Labels [such as gluten-free, Kosher, etc] are extremely important for our products. Just to be certified gluten-free is really important to our clients. We make sure our products are ethically sourced and it’s something that’s a value to them as well as to us. We go through the [Kosher, organic and gluten-free] certification process for each client.”
It may also come as no surprise that for a company like BumbleBar, who addresses the co-packing needs of a considerable amount of other brands, sometimes discretion is key. Hannah says, “We’ll usually sign NDAs with clients because they don’t necessarily want everyone else to know that someone else is co-packing their bars.”
Once the preliminaries are out of the way, BumbleBar gets to work cranking out 14 – 27000 bars a day! “For big runs, we’ll do 80 bars a minute,” Hannah boasts. “A lot of our bars are just raw ingredients combined and cut into bars. Then they’ll go through the line and are wrapped that way.” Make no mistake, a facility that can churn out that much product must be rigorous about quality control. “We do a lot to ensure our production lines are running smoothly and a lot of test runs of initial product so we have everything standardized before the next run.”
While there’s no doubt BumbleBar is killing it in the co-packing department, we had to ask – what about, well, BumbleBar? “We love BumbleBar, of course” Hannah reassured us, “and while it’s really in the beginning stages right now, we’re definitely exploring expansion of our own BumbleBar line.”
And as for the other repercussions of putting the focus on co-packing other brands – competition, for example? “We’re not worried,” Hannah quips.
And with incredibly tasty, nutrient-packed bars like these, they needn’t be.