Nestlé, Kraft Heinz, Cargill, and Kellogg are consistently on the top 100 biggest food companies in America. They employ thousands of employees working on machines with air compressor hose reels, conveyor belts, extruders, steam blanchers, and other equipment. Their operation starts from growing food in large farms, processing them in modern plants, and transforming them into a box of cereals or sausages that we have for breakfast.
If you have a sizeable property, a good recipe, and the will to push through, you can also start your food-processing business.
It Starts with an Idea
Are you thinking of selling your hot sauce based on your grandmother’s recipe in a nicely labeled bottle? Or perhaps a salad dressing that’s all the rave each time you invite family and friends for dinner? That is undoubtedly an excellent place to start. It could be anything that would have a specific captured market. Come up with a list of food ideas and the possible target market (e.g., diabetic-friendly food, gluten-free bread, etc.). Market research will be a critical phase in developing your small food business. Be prepared to spend money even during this initial phase as access to data and analyzing them can come at a cost. But you can always charge it as part of your pre-operating expenses.
Your food needs to be appropriately labeled with the government’s prescribed information. You need the services of a food scientist to determine the percentage content of the ingredients in your processed food. You also need to be guided by the regulations of the FDA. Your processing facility, in particular, should conform to health and safety standards prescribed by the FDA and other authorities.
Sourcing Your Food
Sourcing for fruits, vegetables, meat, and other ingredients used in your processed food is going to be a critical component of your operation. Buying wholesale is the key to lowering your cost and in getting tax exemption on your wholesale purchases.
Test Your Product
You can already begin selling some of your finished products at a weekend market. This should be a dry run before you venture into producing more for the broader market. Get feedback from the customers. Selling at a weekend market is an excellent opportunity to build your base. Make sure you inform people where they can get a hold of your product.
Alternatively, you can host a small party that doubles as a soft launch of your food business. The food tasting of your product should be integrated into your event’s program.
Creating your brand during the initial stages of your business need not be very expensive. Industrial-type technologies can now be found at home. A simple colored laser printer can print some of your marketing collaterals, including the labeling of your boxed or bottled products. Make sure that your design is of high quality and consistent throughout all the platforms that you’re going to use, from digital to traditional media.
Plan, however, to engage the services of a professional marketing or branding firm to help you formulate your messaging, logo, and packaging information.
Finally, the packaging is essential. Depending on your product, you might need to outsource this to a third-party vendor. For example, you might not have the equipment yet to seal your product. Remember, it starts with an idea and a recipe. Just run with the ball and start your business.