I thought I would share my story of where I am in the process of getting my products to market. I started in the Spring of 2009 by going through the Getting Your Recipe to Market class and producing a line of single serving frozen savory pies. The pies were a hit when I made them for friends, but freezing and packaging them presented some issues. After spending time looking at our cost of goods, I realized that they were too expensive to create, and the best thing to do was abandon the products altogether. Lesson learned: always know your costs.
I then went back to an idea I had in 2003 to produce a line of organic chutneys and relishes. I grew up making and eating them, and I knew that they were unique to the Northwest (and delicious!), so I started canning and testing them out at a small farmers market. They were successful, so I kept making more and more every time the main ingredients were in season. I would have liked this process to move along faster, but I'm committed to using local and seasonal produce - you can only produce so much in short time frames (ex: figs may be in season 4-5 weeks out of the year, so you have to capitalize on that time period or wait until the next year).
I'm now learning about how to balance a commitment to local and seasonal vs. cost of goods. We prefer to work directly with small farmers, so they may or may not have the produce you are looking for at the price you want to buy it. Foodhub
has helped us connect online with farmers, and the Farmer Chef Connection
has become our "not to miss" event in the Spring - I don't know how I lived without this website and event before now. Yet when the cost of ingredients goes up, you have to make some hard decisions. Just this year I had to increase our product price by one dollar.
We now have a decent inventory of product built up and have tested the viability of our products at local markets, so I think the time has come to expand into some larger stores. Our current focus is re-tooling our labels to include UPC codes and more information about expiration dates.
We will see where this takes us - hopefully I can come back in six months to a year and report on sales, distribution, etc.
Best of luck in starting your food business. Add your story to this blog so we can all benefit from it!
Sassafras Southern Kitchen