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What is Primary Packaging and Secondary Packaging

What is Primary Packaging and Secondary Packaging

There are layers when it comes to co-packing—primary and secondary packaging. Different products and businesses will have different packaging needs. Just the same, some co-packers only deal in one or the other. Primary packaging is the first step for everything on any shelf, secondary packaging is a more specific process with safety in mind.

Primary Packaging

Primary packaging is the first thing that happens after the product is complete. It is the box the dog treats come in, the tube that holds the mascara. Primary packaging is what the consumer will put their hands on when they are using whatever that product might be.

The primary packaging of a product is what keeps it safe. It is the first thing that goes on and the last line of defense. Primary packaging will determine how useful a product is in the end. If the packaging is defective it puts your product at risk. Having solid primary packaging is important to the integrity of your product and your brand.

Brand and branding are key parts of the importance of primary packaging. Making sure your product looks presentable is huge in driving sales and getting your brand across. You want to make sure your logo is clearly presented, and your packaging is neat. If you display a disheveled product to the masses, that will be part of your brand.

Having a polished product out on the market is the best way to build up your reputation. A well-placed logo is quick and easy advertising. It doesn’t take a marketing team to know that effective branding is crucial to driving business. If done properly, primary packaging can build your brand just as well as other typical marketing strategies.

Secondary Packaging

Secondary packaging is the sort of packaging you are more likely to see in a bulk store like Costco or Sam’s Club. This is the form of packaging that binds things together. For example, in a bundle of a dozen paper reams the primary packaging is the wrapper and the secondary is the plastic tie keeping them in stacks of two and the box holding them all together.

While you would still want your secondary packaging to look presentable, that’s not its primary function. It is about efficiency over all else. Keeping products together so they can be safely transported from warehouse to seller.

The process of secondary packaging is the last step before shipping. That makes it that much more important. Co-packers who deal in secondary packagings, like IFS, have to make sure their packaging team is equipped and ready for the process. This is the final step that will make or break your product in transit.

Nearly every product will need secondary packaging of some kind. Just for transportation, tubes of toothpaste and deodorant containers need to be packaged into larger distribution boxes. Some products, like those that are connected by plastic rings, keep their secondary packaging at the store. However, something like boxes of soap would be packed en masse and then unpacked in the store.

Secondary packaging gives way to heavy-duty cardboard over delicate branded wrappers. Proper secondary packaging is extra assurance that your goods will reach the market unscathed.


When it comes to the differences between primary and secondary packaging, it’s a matter of ‘style’ over ‘sturdy’. Secondary packaging will keep the product looking good on the way to the retailer. Primary packaging will make your product memorable on the shelves and after purchase. Both forms have their level of importance, and that will vary from company to company.

It is important to understand your packaging needs before signing on with a co-packer. Some co-packers will assist in the design of logos and branding in primary packaging. If special secondary packaging is required some co-packers will help with those designs as well.

IFS takes care of primary and secondary packaging and even a bit more after everything is packaged to completion. To learn more about primary and secondary packaging and IFS’s services, speak to a specialist!

#impactfs #supplychain #copacking #impactyourbrand

Co-Packing vs 3PL

Co-Packing vs 3PL

There are a few differences between co-packing vs 3PL (3rd Party Logistics Providers). Co-packers generally only deal in two kinds of packing; primary and secondary. Some co-packers stop after the packaging process while others will go a bit further with bundling those packaged goods. IFS is a one-stop-shop 3PL that specializes in everything from design through eCommerce distribution to the end customers.


Signing on for co-packing means you are bringing on a partner. A co-packer will take the product you already have, make it in bulk, package it, and sometimes store it. Some co-packers will assist in design and editing, but that is not always a guarantee. That’s where the difference between primary and secondary packaging comes into play. Primary is the making, packing, and storing; secondary is more packaging and grouping products so that they can be moved safely before distribution.

Using a co-packer frees up your time and hands so that you can focus on underdeveloped aspects of your business. Rather than focusing on filling orders all on your own, you’ll be able to network and focus on marketing.

With a co-packer you can trust that your product is in capable hands. They handle quality control and assurance and making sure that your product is tip-top before rolling out.

Overhead for production space will no longer be an issue with a co-packer. Depending on the co-packer you partner with, the rates they charge will include pricing for manufacturing, packaging, storing, and other miscellaneous services. The standard duties of a co-packer play into that of a 3PL.

3rd Party Logistics

3rd party logistics provider—this might be an all-new term to you. “3rd party logistics providers” sounds like a lot of business jargon, but really what it means is all-inclusive. IFS deals in 3rd party logistics because we implement primary and secondary packaging before moving your product the rest of the way. A 3PL will hire specialists in every aspect of the supply chain so they can handle anything and everything.

3rd party logistics are with their clients during fulfillment, packing—both primary and secondary—sorting, storing, planning, and shipping. Essentially, everything a company could need help with a 3PL can provide in some capacity.

3PLs are usually the ones who are running the distribution centers. This allows them to do more with their space and time. A 3PL will have the experience to read the demand of your product and adjust production from there.

They will have the foresight to better predict any delays or complications in the picking, packing, and shipping processes and plan accordingly. Using a 3PL will also give you the chance to put your product into new markets without the risk of losing big money.

Having everything nicely packed under one roof will cut down on overhead for manufacturing, storing, and shipping. There will be no need to juggle inventory between a co-packer, storage facility, distribution center, etc. with a 3PL.

With a 3PL you simply have more options than if you were to choose a co-packer alone. Even things down to the facility will be different regarding co-packing vs 3PL. While a co-packer will likely just have equipment and space designed for different packing styles, a 3PL will be prepared with all the necessary bells and whistles for their additional services.

A 3PL has space, knowledge base, and equipment to do as much or as little as you need.

Co-Packing and 3PL Summary

3PLs and co-packers are both great, and sometimes essential, options for businesses. The services they can provide and the teams of experts they employ are paramount to your success. Outsourcing in any way for a small business is a big step, and the proper amount of research should be done. There is no right order in which to do things when it comes to co-packer vs 3PL because every company is different.

Co-packing vs 3PL comes down to the comprehensiveness of the services available to clients. A 3PL will be able to take care of every kind of co-packing and then some. A co-packer focuses on packaging and packaging alone. There is a chance that your company needs more than just a standard co-packer can provide; if that is the case a 3PL is where you should be heading towards.

At IFS, we take care of just about everything for you. We see the product through from conception to sales. The debate of co-packing vs 3PL does not apply to the services at IFS.

Reach out about Contract Packaging for your business at our Speak to a Specialist Page.

#impactfs #supplychain #copacking #impactyourbrand

Secondary Packaging for Cosmetics

Secondary Packaging for Cosmetics

Co-packing, in general, has a lot of moving parts, secondary packaging for cosmetics is meant to act as security and is used to ship products already in primary packaging. You are probably looking at the secondary packaging without even realizing it. Secondary packaging’s main goal is to protect products and provide branding during shipping. It’s also used as display packaging in retail locations such as grocery stores

Reviewing Secondary Packaging

To understand secondary packaging you have to first understand the route. When it comes to co-packing, in general, you have primary and secondary packaging. Primary packaging is what holds the actual product, like the card and blister pack surrounding the product. Most of the branding is done on primary packaging. Secondary packaging is the part of co-packing that keeps things safe and protected during storage, handling, or transit of the goods (outer packaging).

Secondary packaging is done mostly for transit and in bulk packaging. When you see multiple packs of batteries being transported in cardboard boxes (master/case pack), that’s secondary packaging. It’s the last thing to be put on the product, and the first thing to be tossed out when you bring it home or put it on a store shelf.

This is the last line of defense between warehouse and store. Secondary packaging can sometimes also be used for additional branding, but most often it is purely functional.

Secondary Packaging for Cosmetics

Secondary packaging for cosmetics is a bit different in a few ways. Tubes of mascara or the lipstick itself are considered the primary packaging (holding the product). The secondary package in this case would be the box the mascara or lipstick displayed on the retail shelf. When you’re going through the cosmetics aisle there are rows and rows of mascaras from different brands. A lot of the time those tubes of mascara will be packed in blister plastic with information about the product on the backing.

In these cases, secondary packaging does more than provide an extra layer of protection. It continues to drive sales by boasting about the formula in the container. The same can be seen across all different kinds of cosmetics. Things like toothpaste boxes that guarantee whiter teeth, nail polish boxes with the color swatch on top, all examples of secondary packaging.

Cosmetics subscription companies like Ispy and Boxycharm also use their own kind of secondary packaging for cosmetics. Each month subscribers receive a curated box of various cosmetics. The boxes they are shipped in are colorful and display vibrant designs. These boxes stand out and get people curious about the products inside and further drive customer experience.

One additional thing secondary packaging for cosmetics accomplishes is to deter testing. Testing the product is a big part of purchasing cosmetics. If there is no tester product on display, stores risk customers opening the product before purchase. The more secure the secondary packaging the less likely this in-store behavior is to occur.


Secondary packaging is the first thing to go, but it has tons of potential. Cosmetics take up all the real estate they can when it comes to both primary and secondary packaging. Not only is the product kept safe during transit but in stores as well. This kind of packaging is designed to draw the eye just as much as primary when it comes to cosmetics.

Secondary packaging for cosmetics does more than just get products from point A to B – it gives customers a better sense of what they’re buying.

Reach out about Contract Packaging for your business at our Speak to a Specialist Page.

#impactfs #supplychain #copacking #impactyourbrand

How Does Co-Packing Work?

How Does Co-Packing Work?

“How does co-packing work?” is a question we at IFS are asked on occasion, so I felt like this would be a good time to take a moment and dive into some general details around contract packaging…

A co-packer is an overwhelmed business’s best friend. They take care of the production, packaging, and distribution of your goods so you can focus on other aspects of the job. While that may sound simple enough there’s a lot more that goes into how co-packing actually works.

Co-packing is separated into two categories. Broadly speaking, there is primary and secondary packaging. Primary packaging is the creation of the product, getting the toothpaste in the tube. Secondary packaging goes more into the importance of more complex packaging. A bottle of shampoo sitting alone on the shelf was put there through primary packaging. A two-pack of shampoo that is bound together with branded shrink wrap standing out on display with others just like is the product of secondary packaging. There is a lot that goes into co-packing, and understanding how it works takes just a bit more than a cursory glance.


This is probably the most obvious portion of answering the question, how does co-packing work?
The primary function of a co-packer is packing. It’s in the name, after all. And while you might have been packing things just fine on your own, a co-packing facility is going to be much better equipped. Blister machines, shrink wrap machines, carton machines, case sealers, over rappers, tapers, all of these pieces of equipment are on-site to get products properly packaged and out to market. Packaging can be as much or as little as the client needs. If it’s going out to a club store the product might be specially packaged or bulk packaged. Through the use of professional-grade tech and warehouse-level space, a co-packer is efficient and effective.


Let’s say that a business has a solid product but little to no design appeal—a co-packer can fix that. IFS offers services in packaging and design. If necessary, their team can design the package and the logo of any given product. How co-packing works goes far beyond the limited tasks of packing and shipping. A co-packer with a design team works with you to create a visual brand that is both eye-catching and true to your business.

The responsibilities of this aspect—and the aspect we’ll cover soon, display—of co-packing are taken care of by a project tracker. The project tracker will order everything that is needed, keep up on the scheduling, and quality checks. The details of the order and product have to be double-checked before distribution, and that’s where the project tracker steps in.


Once the product has been assembled it’s time to get it out into the retail world. A co-packer will take your product where it needs to go, whether that’s a club store, like Costco and Sam’s Club, to another warehouse, or off to a smaller retailer. Co-packers will take care of all that leg work, rather than having to shuttle everything back and forth on your own.

Much like the project tracker in the design portion of co-packing, shipping and distribution have their own team of specialists. The planning team is the team on the ground. They are the ones who own and manage everything after that initial delivery. The planning team will communicate any problems back to the account manager to ensure transparency at every step of the process.


Some co-packing companies, like IFS, will not only see the completion of your orders through the warehouse phase but all the way to the store. This is a bit of a bonus answer to ‘how does co-packing work’. An exemplary co-packer understands that displays are crucial. IFS will prepare displays for the products they co-pack in such a way that in-store assembly is as simple as pulling it off the pallet. For IFS, creating these displays is a collaborative endeavor. We understand that each company and business has its own creative direction and aesthetic. IFS even goes so far as to design and ship clip strips to be hung at the end of the aisle to advertise the product.

“Display” is the intersection of the project tracker and the planning of the team’s responsibilities. While the project tracker assembled the materials, the planning team is responsible for all of the post-shipping quality checks and assurance. When assisting in any aspect of design there is always transparency and open communication. Our company purchases all of the materials needed to create these displays while also being the feet on the ground assembling them.

Now that we’ve answered “how does co-packing work?” let’s do a little review.

How co-packing works is a much more precise and complicated process than some might assume at a glance. But even through all of the elaborate processes of specific steps, there is still just one goal in mind. A co-packer is a partner whose objective is to get the most polished version of your product to the consumer on time. Through the use of project trackers and case sealers, clip strip designers, and planning teams, co-packers get the job done. How it works and what a co-packer can do for you all depends on what you need. IFS can handle just as much or as little as you need help with.

Reach out about Contract Packaging for your business at our Speak to a Specialist Page.

#impactfs #supplychain #copacking #impactyourbrand

The Importance of Quality Control in Co-Packing

The Importance of Quality Control in Co-Packing

The mark of a good co-packer is their commitment to quality control. A co-packer worth their salt knows what it takes to meet your needs, without fail, time after time. Quality control is a big draw when it comes to co-packing….you want assurance that your product is in good hands if you’re taking this kind of jump. A co-packer can have all the bells and whistles out there, but the importance of quality control is of the utmost importance. After all, if the co-packer misses the mark on quality, what good are the resulting products?

Quality Control

Quality, Inventory, and Safety are our #1 core competencies at IFS. As such IFS has made investments in supporting people, systems, and processes to ensure these competencies are consistently delivered day in and day out. Every hour, on the hour, we audit the lines and resulting output to make sure everything is correct, and records are retained to demonstrate when and what was audited. Audit data is further analyzed to assess what preventive and corrective measures can be taken to ensure we continuously improve on our Quality expectations and deliverables. Having and retaining longstanding co-packing relationships, with highly demanding TOP Tier Customers, is a testament to our commitment to being BEST-IN-CLASS related to what we produce.

Keeping tabs on our entire process, start to finish, keeps this ship sailing smoothly.

Quality control should not end with the product a co-packer produces. The facility that is taking care of your product should be clean as a whistle with its own sets of checks and balances to maintain that cleanliness. Over the years at IFS, we have refined our entire process to make everything—from process to technology—as streamline as possible. Everything in an IFS facility is tracked and double-checked, right down to the bathroom being cleaned. We hold the quality of our facilities extremely high, so you can trust us to do the same with your merchandise.

Knowing that your product is being taken care of by a squeaky clean operation is a serious monkey off a lot of businesses’ backs.

Delivering One Standard

A co-packer that has their client’s best interests at heart will treat every product they get their hands on with the same quality of care. At IFS, we provide one standard of care—the gold standard. For years, we have been working with a Fortune 100 company to fulfill orders across their brands. That same FDA-based quality control is brought to every client that chooses to call us their co-packer.

Guaranteeing one standard of care makes for unbeatable consistency in production. Ensuring that one lofty level of quality control is held means an elevated product for companies on the rise. Because we’re so used to taking care of high-profile brands, up-and-coming businesses know they’re in for top-tier treatment. We are proud to be partnered with Fortune 100 companies and know that our experiences and procedures will lend well to your needs as well.

Cherry-picking services when it comes to quality control are only going to end up costing you more in the long run.

Good, fast, or cheap.

There’s an old saying in the service industry, you have three options; cheap, good, and fast. These are your only options and you can only have two. You can have good and cheap, but it won’t be fast. Good and fast won’t come cheap. And on and on. This is usually said about restaurants, but you get the idea of how it applies to co-packing and quality control.
For some businesses, quantity is what they’re looking for over quality—and more often than not they get what they paid for, and then have to pay more. If you compromise on quality control, the potential for trouble and mishandles is much greater. Paying to backtrack (i.e. tearing everything down and starting from scratch) is going to cost you more in time, resources, and actual money than getting it right the first time would have.

A lot of people go the route of fast and cheap, but reliable quality control, good and fast, is actually the key to money-saving.

Mutually Assured Success

When it comes to co-packing, everyone involved has a reputation and brand to protect. Quality control is part and parcel of making sure that everyone involved in the process comes out smelling like roses. When you sign on with us we become a part of your brand, and it’s one we intend to build right along with you. If you’ve gotten to the point where you need co-packing services you’ve done plenty of stuff right—especially if you’re working with IFS.

We, and any co-packer for that matter, are an extension of your brand. The quality control services of a co-packer are essential in putting the best foot of your company forward. Your co-packer should want nothing more than your success, and that should start and end with making sure every box is checked and all T’s are crossed.

The relationship between client and co-packer is mutually beneficial. A co-packer without clients is just a facility full of employees twiddling their thumbs. When we package your product and send it out into the world we are showing your consumer our best work.

Quality control should be a top priority for both the client and co-packer. With the best quality control mandates in place, a co-packer will be able to save you money, elevate your product, and build you up. A co-packer centered on quality control is less likely to drop the ball, which has the potential to pay for itself in the long run.

The benefits of quality control are far-reaching and can help in aspects of your company that you probably hadn’t considered before. Not only are you getting help with the production part of your business, but you’re also getting a whole new branch of your business that wants your success.

At the end of the day, the right co-packer should care about your product as much as you do.

Reach out about Contract Packaging for your business at our Speak to a Specialist Page.

#impactfs #supplychain #copacking #impactyourbrand

Co-Packing vs Private Label – The Differences

Co-Packing vs Private Label – The Differences

There are a lot of decisions to be made as your business grows and you need some help, a big one being: co-packing vs private label. These two industries do basically the same thing, but there are differences in their functions and benefits.

What is co-packing?

Just as a quick review, let’s go over what co-packing actually is. Co-packing is the outsourcing of your product’s manufacturing and packaging to a third-party specialist. A co-packer takes your creation and fine-tunes the production process to make it available on a grander and speedier scale. Depending on the co-packer, they can also help with networking and design.

What is private labeling?

A private label is also a fulfillment entity. But the big difference here is ownership. While a co-packer distributes your recipe under your name, a private label will distribute their product under your name. A private label is perhaps better suited for a company looking to create something but in need of more help.

As you can see from this overview, there are a few distinct differences. But let’s explore a bit further the differences between the two.


Both a co-packer and a private label will yield a finished product, but there are few more things to consider. A private label will work with your brand to create a formula for your product and then package it for you. They will assist in the development of the product, the branding, and the packaging. However, there is no promise of exclusivity when it comes to private labeling. The private label owns the recipe or formula, which means they can do with it as they please.

A co-packer’s services are more varied, depending on the company. At the heart of it, a co-packer will package and distribute your product. Pretty cut and dry. But there are co-packers, like IFS, who will do more than just bundle up your goods. At IFS we offer our clients a myriad of services including design, fulfillment, distribution, reverse logistics, and much more. Our mission is to provide a single-source provider that can meet the ever-changing end-market demand. Our primary pack and secondary pack designs/solutions can be as simple as a shrink bundle for eCommerce compliance, all the way through developing packaging designs to achieve a high-end unboxing experience. Whatever your needs are, from the individual consumer, through reaching the masses via point of purchase displays and “moment of truth” packaging, IFS can service all your needs.

Even within the confines of private label versus co-packer, there are different levels. If you have a product that needs a little work in branding, primary and secondary packaging is for you. If you just want fulfillment of your product, pursue general co-packing. If you have an idea but no idea or way to start, reach out to a private labeling company.


Pricing exists on a sliding scale. All things considered, if we tally up all of the things that both a co-packer and private labeling company do there are slightly different fees due. A private label does everything from start to finish, so their pricing will likely cover more services. With a co-packer, there are more options.

Private labeling will connect you with a team of professionals who will help you formulate, develop, test, design, and ship a polished product. Because their hands are on every aspect of the process, the potential for higher costs is greater. There is also no overhead by completely outsourcing.

When it comes to co-packing pricing, there is some overlap with what you’ll be paying for. You will save on overhead, you’ll be paying for packaging, distribution, and storage. But, unless you opt for a secondary packaging specialist, there will be less to pay for. Co-packers do a lot, but because you’ve already done a good chunk of the work by creating your product costs will likely be less.

These, of course, are broader statements about pricing, and your own research and cost comparisons should be done. Pricing will vary from co-packer to co-packer, as they will from private label to private label.

Summary of Co-Packing vs Private Label

There are many facets that go into the differences between co-packing versus private labeling. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and appeals to different businesses. A private label is essentially a ghostwriter for the mass production of goods. A co-packer is a facility that can elevate your product but focuses on effective mass production. IFS is considered a “Concept through Consumer” co-packer and can work with you from start to finish to develop the optimal solution to increase your brand awareness and sales.

Reach out about Co-Packing for your business at our Speak to a Specialist Page.

#impactfs #supplychain #copacking #impactyourbrand