Distilling Contractor

What is a contract bottler?

Contract Bottling

What is a contract bottler? In this post, we cover in detail the process of contract filling.

As the consumer goods industry is so fast-moving, it’s important for spirits brands to have bottles that look appealing, professional, and can go from concept to shelf quickly enough to ride trends and, ultimately, make money!

Contract bottling – also known as contract filling – is where a drink brand hires another company to bottle and label their product for them. It’s usual for the bottling company to take care of the entire packaging process – such as the labelling and packing into cartons for distribution – as well as the bottling itself.

The main benefit of using a contract bottler is the ability to outsource an otherwise labour-intensive task. This frees up time and resources to focus on other aspects of marketing and selling a product, all while ensuring quality control and client specifications are met.

How does a bottling company work?

As experts in the spirits industry, we’re able to provide insights from the inside world of contract bottling! This is how things typically work:

  • Some brand owners consider going the DIY route, only to find there is a lot more equipment involved than just a bottling machine! A bottling company will usually also count rinsing machines, filling lines, capping and sealing equipment, and labelling machines among their facilities. If they decide to work with a bottling partner, the process starts with a chat about what their needs are.
  • A contractual agreement is put in place between the brand owner and the bottling company, so they can ensure they’re doing everything exactly to spec and complying with all regulatory requirements. More on what that involves, below.
  • The brand owner then provides all the ingredients and packaging materials to the bottling company, who will then follow the specifications to go into production. Here at Kettlesing Distilling, we can help with sourcing everything you need, and we also offer a recipe development and full distilling and dilution service too.
  • Bottles are rinsed, filled, capped, and sealed, before labels are applied. Automation makes this process a smooth and efficient one, but that doesn’t stop us checking every label ourselves too, just to make sure each one is perfect. We pack the finished bottles securely into cardboard cartons.
  • To work with alcohol, there are rigorous tests and records to be completed to meet industry regulations and permits and licenses need to be obtained. Your bottling company should have expert knowledge of all of these regulations and processes, ensuring the risk of non-compliance is low for their clients.
  • Your bottles are ready for safe transit!

Capping Alcohol Bottles

What are the advantages of using a bottling company?

  1. Cost-efficiency – Not only does outsourcing the filling stage mean the brand owner can concentrate on other aspects of their business, but there are more savings to be made too, such as on the need to consult third-party legislation and bottling experts. Most importantly, outsourcing bottling means a huge saving in up-front costs, because there is no need to invest in costly equipment, facilities and extra labour.
  2. Speed to the shelf – Contract bottlers really know their stuff, and will have a streamlined process, ready to go.  This means you can bring your product to market considerably faster and in time to leap on up-and-coming market trends.
  3. Flexibility – Spirits demand can fluctuate according to the trends and the time of year, so it’s handy to be able to scale production with minimum hassle. This is particularly useful for new brands who might be starting out and who are unsure of how the product will be received. Things suddenly taking off? Great! Your contractor will be able to scale things up much faster than an in-house operation.
  4. Customisation – Every client’s needs are different, but if you want to be able to run multiple product lines with all of the branding and bottle variations that can come with it, a contract bottler can give you that freedom to customise easily.
  5. Access to expertise – We touched on this above, but when there is so much red tape involved in working with alcohol, it’s worth its weight in gold to be able to access expertise on all aspects of the alcohol industry, import and export and compliance, whenever you need it.
  6. Efficiency of scale – Ah, the dreaded overheads, guaranteed to add a lot of cost onto the production of any consumable! This is where it makes sense to use a contract bottler – their production costs are lower because they already have everything in place! They will also spread resources and overheads across multiple clients, allowing the brand to maximise profits.

Pallets of Glass Bottles

What is a bottling agreement?

A bottling agreement is a contractual agreement between a brand owner and their bottling company. It outlines the terms and conditions under which the bottling facility will implement their services. This can cover filling, capping, labelling and packaging. Here are some of the elements it covers:

  • Details of production – This includes the quantities to be produced and any special instructions regarding ingredients, formulations, or processes.
  • Packaging and labelling – The agreement will cover how the product will be packaged, labelled, and branded. This may include specifications for bottle types, labelling requirements and packaging materials.
  • Quality control – Measures including testing protocols, inspection procedures, and adherence to regulatory standards are often outlined here to ensure that the final product meets the brand owner’s quality expectations.
  • Pricing and payment terms – The agreement usually includes details on pricing, payment terms, and any expenses associated with the bottling services provided.
  • Term and termination – the duration of the agreement, as well as provisions for termination or renewal, are specified so everyone is clear on the obligations and responsibilities of both parties.
  • Confidentiality and non-disclosure – confidentiality clauses may be included to protect information shared between the brand owner and the bottling facility, ensuring that sensitive business information remains classified.

Partnering with a contract bottling company pays dividends because it gives you peace of mind, access to years of experience in the industry, flexibility and saves you money – whether you’re producing one spirits line or many.

Speak to our experts

At Kettlesing Distilling Company Ltd we offer a comprehensive service, whether you need bottling and labelling only, or distilling and recipe development too. You can find out more about the services we offer here or go ahead and get in touch with us about your project.