co-packer Are There Small Companies That Will Make Your Hot Sauce For You?

Greetings,
 
I have never really looked into it, but I always wondered if there are companies where if you tell them what you want in a hot sauce - they will make it for you for a reasonable fee. I don't mean mass production unless of course you invent something amazing, but like a case of 6 to 8 bottles just to see if what you have in mind actually tastes good when it's professionally all put together.
 
Does anyone know what type of companies I should be looking for on Google for example or do anyone know of any companies that do this - Canada if possible.
 
Thank you very much.
 
FW
 
The expert here is Lucky Dog, but I will share what I found out.  There are indeed companies which will bottle your sauce, make sure the labels are right, and do just about everything you need.  I have not found one that will make such a small number.  I want to say the smallest run I found was 600 or 700 bottles.  The term you want to search is 'copacker' or 'copacking'.

Although I did not find a place that would do smaller volume, before they go forward they do a small taste testing run.
 
ajdrew said:
The expert here is Lucky Dog, but I will share what I found out.  There are indeed companies which will bottle your sauce, make sure the labels are right, and do just about everything you need.  I have not found one that will make such a small number.  I want to say the smallest run I found was 600 or 700 bottles.  The term you want to search is 'copacker' or 'copacking'.

Although I did not find a place that would do smaller volume, before they go forward they do a small taste testing run.
 
Thanks for the info - but wow, 600 or 700 bottles is way too much. I figured there would be some small custom food service companies that generally deal with smaller volume orders - maybe even for just for a specific occasion like a party or wedding.
 
Do you know what they were charging for 600 bottles?
 
Freewheeler, I was quoted for $1.50 but that is with me providing the majority of the ingredients.  Lucky Dog, who really is the expert on this topic said it was an excellent price. 
 
Those people are called Copackers and they're all over the US now for the but, they're only going to work with people that are going to sell hot sauce for a living. While they might make a 10 gallon batch as a test run they're typically looking at much bigger runs. 
 
Creating the recipe, it's best that you do that yourself or possibly ask someone on here if they would be willing to do it for you. Personally, that's the fun part of sauce making and since it's really about what you like, you should be the one creating it. What would work best for you if your unsure about ingredient and / or combinations of ingredients the post up in here what your thinking and people will tell you if your on theway to something good or out of your flipping mind :)
 
Cheers Brother and have fun with it!
 
Most copackers have minimums like 40 gallons - 80 gallons. For 5 oz bottle that's ~2400-4800 bottles. Minimum.

Some will let you mix & match a so if you have 2 flavors @ 2400 bottles per, you'd meet the 80 gal minimum. But that's if the sauces have similar processes & ingredients.

Some will provide bottles, some you provide your own. For all you'll have to find a label company who'll print your label, which means having a graphic artist create a label to regulatory spec. Weight statement, ingredients statement, "made for" statement - this varies from state to state (except weights & measures, which is universal)

As Rocket said, create your own recipe. Make something special - bring something unique and original to the table. Too crowded of an industry to buy a private label sauce and clutter the market place. Do it because you love it, not because the news reports say "it's a billion dollar industry!"

I do it full time - it's not easy and somehow those billions seem to fall into Tapatio & Tabasco's pockets far more than mine. I'm in my fourth year and only because I work my ass off promoting & selling my products.

And that's another aspect worth mentioning - copackers may turn you down if you only want to do it as a lark or a hobby. A lot of time & sweat equity for a copacker to invest in certifying your product with the state, r&d, and test batching. They rarely break even on your 1st batch so if they sense you're a "1 & done" or very low volumes, you won't be worth their time.

Took me months to get on the calendar with my 1st copacker, and that was all about convincing them that I was serious about this business. While they get paid to provide a service, its not like finding an auto shop to do your brakes - It's a two-way street. If you're running a single 80 gal batch, the copacker could run 10,000 bottles for someone else on that same time.

Just food for thought....
 

salsalady

Business Member
I agree with all the posts here.  Definitely don't invest in a copacker run unless you actually have a great sauce.  Copackers will do R&D and test batches for you....if you want to pay the $$$ for them to play around in the kitchen on your dime. 
 
 
If you just want to do it for fun, buy a good heavy-bottomed SS 10qt stock pot and make 1-2 gallon batches yourself.  Tons of detailed info in the Making Hot Sauce 101 thread. 
 
If you come up with that Make-A-Million recipe that is totally out of this world, then look at copackers.  As long as you are just doing it as a hobby and are not selling it ANYWHERE (including internet...) just make it yourself.
 
Have Fun~
SL
 
Lucky Dog Hot Sauce said:
Most copackers have minimums like 40 gallons - 80 gallons. For 5 oz bottle that's ~2400-4800 bottles. Minimum.

Some will let you mix & match a so if you have 2 flavors @ 2400 bottles per, you'd meet the 80 gal minimum. But that's if the sauces have similar processes & ingredients.

Some will provide bottles, some you provide your own. For all you'll have to find a label company who'll print your label, which means having a graphic artist create a label to regulatory spec. Weight statement, ingredients statement, "made for" statement - this varies from state to state (except weights & measures, which is universal)

As Rocket said, create your own recipe. Make something special - bring something unique and original to the table. Too crowded of an industry to buy a private label sauce and clutter the market place. Do it because you love it, not because the news reports say "it's a billion dollar industry!"

I do it full time - it's not easy and somehow those billions seem to fall into Tapatio & Tabasco's pockets far more than mine. I'm in my fourth year and only because I work my ass off promoting & selling my products.

And that's another aspect worth mentioning - copackers may turn you down if you only want to do it as a lark or a hobby. A lot of time & sweat equity for a copacker to invest in certifying your product with the state, r&d, and test batching. They rarely break even on your 1st batch so if they sense you're a "1 & done" or very low volumes, you won't be worth their time.

Took me months to get on the calendar with my 1st copacker, and that was all about convincing them that I was serious about this business. While they get paid to provide a service, its not like finding an auto shop to do your brakes - It's a two-way street. If you're running a single 80 gal batch, the copacker could run 10,000 bottles for someone else on that same time.

Just food for thought....
 
I found a place that has a 20 gal minimum, but I haven't contacted them yet regarding price, etc.
 
This would be a hobby thing, unless of course I create something so amazing - I would have to sell it, but that is probably unlikely. I am not a cook in any capacity really beyond the basics, but I know what I like when it comes to sauces, so I would prefer a professional cook make it.
 
Is there really no mom and pop companies out there so to speak that will create a sauce for you per the ingredients they have in stock - similar to a bakery or a caterer where you tell them what you want for an occasion. For example, a bakery will make a wedding cake to your exact specifications - but they don't expect you to buy 1,000 wedding cakes.
 
If this sort of thing doesn't exist for all kinds of sauces on a per bottle basis - case of 20 for example, then someone needs to take advantage of a business that is needed - but no one else is doing.
 
Unless of course I didn't explain myself properly and I should look on Google for a different kind of service beyond co-packing where it is similar to a bakery or caterer where they will make a "small batch" per my instructions and their ingredients.
 
Freewheeler said:
 
Is there really no mom and pop companies out there so to speak that will create a sauce for you per the ingredients they have in stock - similar to a bakery or a caterer where you tell them what you want for an occasion. For example, a bakery will make a wedding cake to your exact specifications - but they don't expect you to buy 1,000 wedding cakes.
 
If this sort of thing doesn't exist for all kinds of sauces on a per bottle basis - case of 20 for example, then someone needs to take advantage of a business that is needed - but no one else is doing.
 
If such a place exists it's going to be a local thing that only services a select region. I've never seen such a service advertised on the internet. 
 
If you're looking for something specific to a group of ingredients that you select and you don't want to do it yourself you could try, as I mentioned above, post what your thinking about and ask for comments. Members here are extremely friendly and will give you some great advice.
 
If your just not wanting to do any of the work and just want to enjoy the product you could try reaching out to some of the members on here who have made sauces that you thought sounded good and see if they would be willing to create something for you based on your ingredient list. You send them some money to cover expenses and a little something for their time and effort and shipping expenses, etc... There might be someone willing to do it for you. I really feel that going this way you're missing out on the fun side of sauce making though.
 
JMHO though :)
 
Cheers,
RM
 

salsalady

Business Member
I did a quick estimate for 1 gallon/24 bottles. $300-$350 depending on ingredients and prep time. $12-$14 per bottle. And that is with no guarantee you would like it or it would be what you were going for.
 
salsalady said:
I did a quick estimate for 1 gallon/24 bottles. $300-$350 depending on ingredients and prep time. $12-$14 per bottle. And that is with no guarantee you would like it or it would be what you were going for.
What a deal!
:rofl:


Any business making 1 gallon batches is going to be out of business fast.

Without quoting the OP, as i am on my tiny phone, I'll speak to the gist: you (the OP, not salsa lady) are suggesting that there's a niche market for micro batch production of hot sauce.

The reason that's not the case is because hot sauce is a highly regulated product. To make your tiny batch it must be made in in a licensed commercial kitchen that's also been licensed as a cannery - the processes must be pre-approved and the stability lab certified. That all takes time.

Then when making the product, the kitchen must be cleaned and prepped, and then cleaned again after production.

Which ties in with what SL was saying and why the price per bottle would be so high.

A kitchen has to do the clean & prep & clean whether they're making 10 bottles or 10,000 bottles.

And there's the time spent with ingredients sourcing, and also making the test batch and submission to the state.

Additional time will be spent by you on creating a regulatory complaint label.

Finally, printing a small batch of labels (24) is going to cost like $1/label

The reason no one offers this service is because it's a losing proposition. They have to do it this way because you're paying them to produce a food product.

For an "at your own risk" hobby sauce, you make it yourself.

For your desired outcome, buy a 2 gal kettle for home use. Start playing around making sauce based on some of he recipes here. Learn what proper pH and pasteurization requires, or learn to make a ferment. That's a fun of sauce making.

You're saying you want to do it as a hobby but you want to pay someone to do your hobby for you? That's a little odd. That's like paying someone to fly a kite for you or collect stamps for you. Hobbies are supposed to be fun for the hobbyist. ?
 

salsalady

Business Member
That price wasn't for a tested/approved sauce for sale.  That would definitely be a LOT more.  I just threw something up there if someone wanted a 1 gallon batch for ....a wedding...special occasion...vanity sauce????
 
Honestly, I probably wouldn't look at doing a custom batch for less than $500.  I did one a long time ago right after joining THP for someone.  Didn't make any money on it.
 
salsalady said:
That price wasn't for a tested/approved sauce for sale.  That would definitely be a LOT more.  I just threw something up there if someone wanted a 1 gallon batch for ....a wedding...special occasion...vanity sauce????
 
Honestly, I probably wouldn't look at doing a custom batch for less than $500.  I did one a long time ago right after joining THP for someone.  Didn't make any money on it.
Yep! Exactly my point about why it wouldn't be a good business model.

From what I understand, commercial kitchens aren't in the business of putting out non-approved products. Way too much liability and nowhere near enough $.
;)
 
salsalady said:
I did a quick estimate for 1 gallon/24 bottles. $300-$350 depending on ingredients and prep time. $12-$14 per bottle. And that is with no guarantee you would like it or it would be what you were going for.
 
That's certainly reasonable. I trust though that before they actually bottle it - I would be able to taste it and tweak it if required.
 
Lucky Dog Hot Sauce said:
What a deal!
:rofl:


Any business making 1 gallon batches is going to be out of business fast.

Without quoting the OP, as i am on my tiny phone, I'll speak to the gist: you (the OP, not salsa lady) are suggesting that there's a niche market for micro batch production of hot sauce.

The reason that's not the case is because hot sauce is a highly regulated product. To make your tiny batch it must be made in in a licensed commercial kitchen that's also been licensed as a cannery - the processes must be pre-approved and the stability lab certified. That all takes time.

Then when making the product, the kitchen must be cleaned and prepped, and then cleaned again after production.

Which ties in with what SL was saying and why the price per bottle would be so high.

A kitchen has to do the clean & prep & clean whether they're making 10 bottles or 10,000 bottles.

And there's the time spent with ingredients sourcing, and also making the test batch and submission to the state.

Additional time will be spent by you on creating a regulatory complaint label.

Finally, printing a small batch of labels (24) is going to cost like $1/label

The reason no one offers this service is because it's a losing proposition. They have to do it this way because you're paying them to produce a food product.

For an "at your own risk" hobby sauce, you make it yourself.

For your desired outcome, buy a 2 gal kettle for home use. Start playing around making sauce based on some of he recipes here. Learn what proper pH and pasteurization requires, or learn to make a ferment. That's a fun of sauce making.

You're saying you want to do it as a hobby but you want to pay someone to do your hobby for you? That's a little odd. That's like paying someone to fly a kite for you or collect stamps for you. Hobbies are supposed to be fun for the hobbyist. ?
 
Well the point is that they would be doing far more than just 1 gallon batches of hot sauce. They would be involved in other food preparation as well - soups, condiments, dressings, etc. I would agree that if hot sauce is ALL they do, then the business probably wouldn't make it.
 
Maybe hobby was the wrong word. As a hot sauce enthusiast from a consumer point of view, I often find that products for sale are missing certain ingredients to make the hot sauce perfect from my point of view. So I am willing to pay money to have a professional make it. Just like how a bakery, caterer or butcher makes things to your specifications. I don't have the patience, time or cooking experience to do it on my own.
 
Ultimately if I am willing to pay money to have someone create my own personal hot sauce - then I don't see the problem. I am sure someone will want to take that money and make a small batch of hot sauce on a regular basis.

Lucky Dog Hot Sauce said:
Yep! Exactly my point about why it wouldn't be a good business model.

From what I understand, commercial kitchens aren't in the business of putting out non-approved products. Way too much liability and nowhere near enough $.
;)
 
How is hot sauce any different than a bakery, butcher or caterer that makes food or deserts to the specifications of the customer in small quantities or just one item like a wedding cake? I know a place that makes soup per the customer's specifications per hundreds of ingredients that they offer - it's like ordering a pizza. They don't make sauces though.
 
Freewheeler said:
How is hot sauce any different than a bakery, butcher or caterer that makes food or deserts to the specifications of the customer in small quantities or just one item like a wedding cake? I know a place that makes soup per the customer's specifications per hundreds of ingredients that they offer - it's like ordering a pizza. They don't make sauces though.
 
Because wedding cakes and baked goods aren't hot packed acidified shelf-stable products that can kill people if improperly made. Moreover, they don't have the same regulatory overhead.
 
I thought I'd mentioned the regulatory aspect previously?
 
It's not like ordering a pizza. There's substantial liability involved in selling hot sauce. And in the example you give, the kitchen is selling you hot sauce - so they incur the liability regardless of what you do with it. And because of that they will have to process your proposed product according to the regulations of the area in which they reside.
 
There are different requirements for different states, but all hot sauce is regulated as an AF/LACF product. As such there's lab testing, shelf stability certification, and safe handling practices that the kitchen must follow.
 
In my state (CA) the state inspector must come and pull random samples from the batch (that you previously obtained permission to make) and test the pH prior to releasing the product. And it costs money to have the inspector come out.  Not a ton of money on a 4800 bottle batch, but a substantial amount of money on a 24 bottle batch.
 
I'm pretty sure Dominos doesn't offer that service, and especially not in 30 mins or less. :rofl:
 
Hopefully this clarifies how totally and completely different this is than ordering a pizza or a birthday cake. :cheers:
 
It is because those products you are referencing are designed to be consumed within a short amount of time.  Hot sauces need to be made so they are shelf stable.  Otherwise they run a risk of forming nasty stuff like I believe botulism...  Without proper cleanliness and proper procedures that must be carefully adhered to there is a risk that most companies are not willing to take without a substantial reward.  After all, if the sauce does get contaminated, they are the ones who are responsible.
 

salsalady

Business Member
I'm kinda looking about it a little differently, from a processors POV. If someone wants to hire me and use of my kitchen to make a hot sauce for their own personal use and have input as to the flavor and want to to pay for the kitchen time, my time, etc...if they want to pay the price, I would entertain the idea on a one-time basis.  If someone was local, they could come to the kitchen and participate in the process, do taste testing on-site, and give the Thumbs-Up to bottle.  Doing it for someone out of town would be a bit more complicated, but it could be done...for the right price.
 
 
There is a big difference between a bakery and making a hot sauce.  The bakery has established recipes, you aren't asking them in invent something from scratch.  You're pretty much telling them you want XXX flavor of cake with YYY color of frosting....not  whole lot of experimentation or creativity.  If you give them a recipe for a cake and ask them to make it, the bakery follows the recipe and it turns out like crap...what then?
 
I don't know about that custom soup place, I would guess they have some soup bases and then just add whatever custom ingredients the customer wants.  Asking someone to create a hot sauce is kinda like commissioning a piece of art.  The customer may give some general direction but in the end it's up to the artist. 
 
If someone hires me to create a sauce, they are hiring my expertise as far as flavor creation, sauce consistency, food safety, processing, etc.  Same thing for hiring me as an electrician.  The customer is paying for our experience as well as the licensing, insurance, adherance to regulations etc that is required for each industry.
 
I don't see a need for testing or inspections for a sauce that is not going to be sold.  I would do pH testing, and follow all good processing practices just like any other sauce.  [edit- basically, I would develop the sauce to the point it would be able to go to a PA and pass with flying colors.  I've never had a sauce sent to the PA not be approved.  I'm confident in my ability as a processor to do the same for a 1-off sauce.]  Same for being an electrician, I know the rules, but I also have a lot of experience designing lighting.  I can help the customer with that as well as figuring out how to to do all the stuff they never see for wiring inside the walls. 
 
The customer sees the awesome chandelier and recessed uplights behind the valance....they don't care about nail plates and ground rods
The customer tastes the awesome hot sauce....they don't care about pH, trimming the bad spots out of the fresh peppers, or the extra time taken to grill the pineapple....( ;) guess who likes grilled pineapple.... :lol: )
 
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