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Coapcker Insight: What are the key points of a Plant Trial (pilot) Batch? -What are the preparation steps and what to look out for.

Updated: Apr 30

Welcome to Copacker Search Wisdom -


It is absolutely critical for the success of your future plant batches to conduct a pilot trial with a copacker. During this time, you will establish the formula and set the standard for future product specifications. Some clients like to attend this initial trial. If you are at all nervous about your copacker's communication or viability or simply want to know more yourself, be present! A good copacker would want you there (though not in the way). Know that you can always send a representative as well (we can help with that). During a food and beverage manufacturing plant trial, several key activities typically occur to ensure the product meets quality standards, production efficiency, and regulatory requirements. Here's an overview of what normally happens during a trial:


  1. Preparation and Planning: Before the trial begins, there is extensive preparation and planning, which will take some time. If there is not, this is a major red flag! Don't take it to mean that you got lucky; you are getting the product quickly! It means important steps to ensure the product's efficacy and safety are not being followed. Proper preparation involves setting objectives for the trial, outlining the parameters to be tested, scheduling and validating resources, and ensuring all necessary ingredients and equipment are available.

  2. Recipe Formulation: If the trial involves a new product or a variation of an existing product, the formulation of the recipe is finalized or adjusted according to the desired specifications. This may involve adjusting ingredient ratios, processing techniques, or other variables. At the very least, this is to see that the Coapcker can reproduce your formula accurately and then use the reproduction for standard samples.

  3. Ingredient Inspection and Quality Control: All ingredients used in the trial are inspected for quality and adherence to specifications. This includes checking for freshness, proper storage conditions, and any potential contaminants. A big time piece of this for the copacker onboarding is receiving raw materials as well as standards (separate lot coded samples) of each ingredient in order to test and validate the product received. Once this is done, the raw material leaves quarantine and is made available by the Quality team for Production use.

  4. Equipment Setup and Calibration: Production equipment is set up and calibrated to ensure it operates according to the desired parameters. This may involve adjusting temperature, pressure, speed, and other variables to achieve the desired production conditions.

  5. Trial Production Runs: The trial involves several production runs to test different aspects of the manufacturing process or it can be as simple as one run. This allows for adjustments to be made in real time based on observations and feedback.

  6. Quality Assurance and Testing: Throughout the trial, product samples are collected and tested for quality, consistency, flavor, texture, and other attributes. This may involve sensory evaluation by trained panelists as well as laboratory analysis. Product standards are important and should be retained. This means that the product that has met and passed all criteria of its Finished Product Specification is kept in storage for testing against future lots of products.

  7. Process Optimization: Any issues or inefficiencies encountered during the trial are addressed and optimized to improve the manufacturing process. This may involve adjusting processing parameters, equipment settings, or workflow procedures.

  8. Documentation and Record-Keeping: Detailed records are kept throughout the trial, documenting every aspect of the production process, including ingredients used, production times, quality test results, and any deviations from standard procedures. This documentation is essential for quality control, regulatory compliance, and future reference.

  9. Evaluation and Feedback: After the trial is completed, the results are evaluated, and feedback is gathered from key stakeholders, including production staff, quality control personnel, and management. This feedback helps to refine the product and the manufacturing process further.

  10. Final Approval and Scale-Up: Once the trial is successful and all objectives are met, the product may receive final approval for full-scale production. This involves scaling up production to meet commercial demand while maintaining product consistency and quality standards.

Overall, a food and beverage manufacturing plant trial is a critical step in the product development process. It ensures that new products or process improvements meet quality standards, regulatory requirements, and customer expectations.


As always, Happy Hunting!


The CVL Team

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