Insights and Advice For Growing CPG Brands

Change is Good

Yield Reporting and Chargebacks

Simple Trade Show CRM


Getting Started

Welcome to the first FoodOps blog. In addition to thought leadership content, Asa and I will be celebrating our team weekly through the Problem of the Week. Our goal is to share a way to think about, process, and solve problems. We will discuss various topics that we’ve encountered in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry. I thought it would be fitting to solve a problem that I’ve been sitting on for years – The process of getting started. This could be anything; starting your own food business, starting a co-manufacturing search, starting to better understand your COGS with the plan of reducing them, starting your slide deck in order to get investor funding, or simply starting the process of sharing ideas and best practices in the form of a blog.  When my former business partner, Jim, and I started FoodOps in 2016 I had goals – really big goals.

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Problem of the Week

Change is Good

Week of: 4/8/24
Highlighting Asa Bielenberg

Asa was traveling last week to visit a client that wanted to build co-manufacturing space in their shared use kitchen. The building has inherent challenges to make efficient. It is on a narrow residential street, and difficult dock access for 53′ trucks. Once docked, the path to move materials into and out of the proposed co-man space is long and disruptive to other activities in the building. Additionally, the areas in discussion for co-man use were not contiguous, which would create difficulties getting SQF certified down the road.

We had prepped their leadership team with a few proposals that involved repurposing other spaces in the building and tearing down walls. At the time, we were encouraged by the client to think within the existing shell and not alter the building too much.

During the site-visit, FoodOps and our partner Food Works Group, we were able to walk the space and articulate the value in repurposing the building to provide better human and material flow. This will ultimately improve their operational efficiency and GMP’s, allowing them to be a great small co-man for budding businesses.

Yield Reporting and Chargebacks

Week of: April 1, 2024
Highlighting Krista Heilman

A client and their co-man recently negotiated terms for scrap and chargebacks for overuse. This is great for the brand, since there was a significant amount of waste every production run that they can get credit for. However, Krista was still in a position where she had to order excess materials just to produce the whole order; this number was different than the contracted scrap number.

She developed a yield report based on inventory before and after the production campaign. From this report, she could determine the pounds of excess ingredients compared to what was contractually allowed. This was used to:

  1. Concisely communicate the amount our client was due in credit for material overuse.
  2. Articulate actual overuse for each ingredient in the BOM.

The FoodOps team is working on the root cause of the yield issue with the manufacturer. Because of the report Krista made, we have already determined particularly difficult ingredients for the co-man to handle and can work with their technical team to problem solve together.

Simple Trade Show CRM

Week of: March, 25 2024
Highlighting John Castillo

One of the most overwhelming things about trade shows is the sorting through the scanned QR codes, new LinkedIn connections, and stack of business cards. Forming hundreds of new contacts during a sleep-deprived week means that recalling faces, names, and their needs is difficult to do if it’s not done in the moment.

When FoodOps attends trade shows, we collect this information using a simple Google Form that populates a database. After walking an aisle and forming 10 or so connections – or sometimes immediately after a positive engagement – a team member will fill out a form that summarizes the brand, contact, needs, and the trade show attended. Regardless of who fills out the form, all entries are timestamped and put into the database.

Doing this in real time allows us to fully decompress from long days of walking the floor. When it comes time to follow-up, centralization makes it a breeze. This system made Expo West very manageable this year.

Try Harder

Week of: March 18, 2024
Highlighting Krista Heilman

Krista manages the S&OP for a canned beverage company with a seasonal sales cycle. In this role, she works directly with the co-manufacturer to schedule production the client. This week, Krista had to push hard to secure necessary line time for her client. We needed to ensure the client had inventory, as they are approaching a heavy sales time.

Organization is key to make this happen. Krista came into the discussion prepared:

  1. She was able to appeal to partnership by showing the history of other times the co-manufacturer had shorted an order for this client.
  2. She was able to show the ingredients to produce were there by showing all POs, BOLs, and yield reports for previous production runs.
  3. She was able to be flexible by agreeing to dividing the production run into SKUs that worked with the co-manufacturer’s production schedule.

The extra day of production that Krista got for her client meant an extra 20,000 cases to sell during this key sales cycle.

Just ask the Supplier

Week of: March 5, 2024
Highlighting Craig Swiecichowski

One of Craig’s clients manufactures THC butters. The most time-intensive part of their production day was dissolving THC distillate in MTC oil so that it could be evenly dispersed for a homogeneous solution. Craig recognized an opportunity to push this burden onto someone better equipped to handle it.

Craig worked with the distillate supplier to develop a custom product for our application. They worked through issues like concentration, potency validation, new pricing, and minimum orders for a custom ingredient.

The client now receives a diluted, oil soluble solution that can easily add to the rest of the mixture. Production days are straightforward now, and Craig is shifting his focus to addressing throughput and process flow.


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