Wednesday, July 09, 2008

5 Keys to Success In The Gourmet Food Business.

The Specialty Food business can be a great place to forge out your future. You can take a simple recipe and make a fortune if you play your cards right. There are many success stories that illustrate this exact phenomenon. You would most likely recognize brands like K.C Masterpiece or Soy Vay, but how can you get your family recipe produced and elevated to these heights?

Here are five points to help you succeed and avoid the pitfalls that will squash your momentum:

1. Keep It Simple! If your family recipe has 50 ingredients and has to be simmered for eight hours it is definitely not suitable for a production filling process. Food manufacturing is not like home cooking. A simple formula is the best and will help you produce a clean and consistent product. But don’t give up yet; a food developer can take your complicated family recipe and convert it to a production formula that tastes and looks similar to your treasured family recipe. A good food developer is your best friend in the specialty food business. They will know how to recreate your recipes look, feel, and flavor profile, while keeping the process and production costs into account.

Avoid Niche Products. While it might be a really cool thing to have the hottest hot sauce on the planet, or a ridiculously hilarious racy label; the reality of it is that the food business is a business of volume. A superhot hot sauce might be ok for a tiny portion of the Chile-head population or as a novelty to put on a shelf, or to poison Uncle Creepy’s dinner when he comes to live on your couch for a week. But you will have a hard time making a living on a product that sits in the fridge for years and is used a molecule at a time. Think repeat sales! A marinade or milder pepper sauce that is used in one or two meals will keep the jars flying off the shelves.

Image Is Everything! When it comes to succeeding in a small business image is definitely everything. By being professional in the operations of your business you can appear to be larger than life. When it comes to your product the same rules apply. Hire an artist to design your labels and product packaging. While it seems cool to save a ton of money by creating your own art you will only be hurting yourself in the long run. People need to be drawn to your products and labels that you created in Photoshop and printed on your color laser will do nothing more than have you selling at the local swap meet.

Keep Your Customer In Mind. Customers buy benefits not products. Does your product offer customers any benefits over your competition? Make sure you can offer the best possible version of whatever you are producing. You might be the best tasting or a new variation of an existing product. Maybe you are the least expensive or you are offering an all natural version. Whatever it is, if you don’t think you are the best you should probably rethink your product.

Never, Never, Never Quit! Unless you have just created a revolutionary new product that no one has ever seen and can’t live without, you will not likely have buyers falling at your feet. Keep promoting your product, Keep calling buyers, and keep the excitement going. It takes some time, but once the stubborn buyers hear your messages for a while, and see your brochures over and over; they will invite you in to show your goods. That is your time to shine. One customer at a time, they will become many and you will be looking for my next blog post; “How to survive the pressures of the specialty food business!”


While these tips might not turn you into Paul Newman overnight, they will get you going on the right track. If you are looking into a specialty food business and have little or no experience, any of the points or possible pitfalls listed here could make or break your business. Please feel free to comment on any of the points listed.


Daniel J. Brooker, M.S. - Food Labeling Consultant said...

Regarding #3 about image: Your products nutrition facts, ingredient statements, and allergen disclosures are also a reflection of you and your company. Properly prepared, they communicate to regulators and your customers that your company is credible, trustworthy and professional. Your business depends on a nutritional analysis that is accurate, nutrition facts that are formatted correctly, ingredient statements that are prepared properly, and labeling that is FDA compliant.

Foodies said...

I think # 5 Keys to success is very very important..never ever quit in everything you do...

Mark by Chocolate said...

@DJ Brooker. Great point. Where does one get an analysis of the product. It isn't necessary to have an analysis but it can be important for some people. So, how does one go about getting an analysis done?

You need an ingredient statement but many people look for nutritional analysis as well.

RoJo's Gourmet Blog said...

Hi Mark,

It seems you could find a food analysis lab in your area or even click on Mr. Brooker's link back on his comment.