How to Launch a Food Product in 4 Steps - Get your Product in Grocery Stores!
So you have a recipe that you love and all your friends and family have told you to start selling? Or maybe you're already selling at your local farmer's market but you want to get your product on national (or even international) store shelves?
If you tuned in last week, then you know that we walked you through the 3 Vs - our 3 step process to open a restaurant or foodservice operation. Today, we are focusing on our 4 Vs for food retail - how to launch a food product and sell your product in supermarkets.
So, if you've ever wondered how to get your product in grocery stores - grab your pen and paper and let's get started!
1. Validate your concept
We discussed this in part 1 of this series as well, but every food business or brand starts with an idea. Even so, a successful food business or brand begins with an idea that satisfies demand or a gap in the market.
To understand whether or not your concept has potential in the marketplace, market research is an incredibly powerful resource.
Who will purchase your product once in stores?
What trends are working (or not working) in the current market?
Which similar products are already available to consumers?
All of these are key questions to ask yourself as you analyze the market to develop an understanding of your ideal customer's demographics and purchasing habits.
If you are looking to produce a recipe for large-scale manufacture and distribution - production costs are going to be high. Your funding will need to account for co-packing facilities, ingredient purchasing, hiring professionals (consultants, food scientist, etc.), scientific testing, distribution, storage, packaging, and more.
Before getting started, take an honest look at your concept and funding streams to determine if you have the resources necessary to launch. If you do not, work with accelerator programs, incubators, and other resources to gather funding.
If you do, make sure to protect your concept and your investment with a non-disclosure agreement. This is a necessary document to share with any outside parties you choose to work with over the lifespan of your business.
Are you interested in learning more about how we can help you understand your ideal customer, market forecast, and competitive advantage? You can learn more about our research initiatives and reports here.
2. Verify any governing regulations
Understanding the meaning and specifications of product claims is a vital step to make before getting started with developing your product for large-scale production.
Each of the claims you find on food and beverage product packaging adheres to set manufacturing procedures or limitations. Determining which claims your product will possess will help you to narrow down your choice of food scientists, ingredients within your product, as well as co-packers. They will also dictate any allergens or processing standards that will need to be adhered to once you begin to produce.
Some marketing claims, like low fat, are not key determining factors of the products integral identity. These claims typically include nutrient content claims, health claims, and structure or function claims.
Other marketing claims are integral to the identity of the product, like gluten-free or certified organic. These claims are known as identity preservation claims and may need to be verified by certification.
All food products are regulated by some sort of overseeing body, whether federal, state, and/or local. Take some time to understand the compliance requirements for your product type based on FDA or USDA and state regulations.
Are you interested in learning more about food product claims and FDA compliance standards? Take a look at our Food Labeling Starter Pack - we go into more detail on label requirements, marketing claims, and best practices. You can learn more about it here.
3. Visit your co-packer
In your journey to launch, it is essential to work with professionals that you trust to create a product that lives up to your expectations as well as production standards.
Assign a co-packer
It is important to work with a food consultant to select a co-packer that is best for your product's production needs.
When locating a co-packer, make sure their facility is equipped to adhere to vital processing limitations, safety concerns, procurement and storage requirements. You will also want to collect any current audit certifications they have on file.
If you can't find the right co-packer on your first try, don't give up! With trial-and-error, you will be able to locate the perfect co-packer for your product.
Audit your co-packer
Remember the marketing claims we discussed? Now is the time to make sure that your selected co-packer can adhere to any regulations depending upon your selected claims.
Visit the co-packer in person to do a final evaluation and make sure they are up to par with processing standards. As a safety precaution, hiring a third-party auditor will allow you to ensure their adherence to all mandated compliance guidelines.
Are you interested in learning more about taking your product idea to grocery store shelves? Sign up to download our concept-to-commercialization checklist. It walks you through our 10 steps in detail so you can finally launch your product.
4. Venture into product development
Finally, we can get to the most exciting part - and the reason why you want to sell your product in the first place!
Now that you have created a strong foundation for your product to be entered into the marketplace, you can proceed with creating a prototype for your finished product. Keep in mind everything that your co-packer may have shared with you in terms of facility limitations.
At this point, work with your food scientist to create a standardized formula for your product, as well as a third-party laboratory testing site to conduct the necessary food testing to ensure the quality and safety of your food product.
Are you interested in learning more about how to write a business plan for your food business? We will be sharing a blog post with more details in a couple of weeks! Sign up for our email list to be notified when the post is live!
Knowing how to launch a food product or how to get your product in grocery stores is not an easy task. That's why it's so important to administer the help of professionals in whom you trust. With our 4 step checklist and the professionals you need, you'll be able to understand how to market a homemade food product and sell food products to supermarkets.
If you're interested in learning more about how we can help you start your food business, you can check out our services here.
Do you have an idea that you want to turn into a food business? What questions do you have? Share them in the comments section below!