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  • Writer's pictureFusions Foods

Starting Small with a Great Idea

Updated: Jan 8, 2020

You’ve perfected the recipe; everyone loves your product and you’ve come up with a great brand name.

What next?


There’s a big jump between home baking your product for friends, family and the stalls at your local fair and getting it into local retailers or the lofty goal of seeing your product on the shelves of a national supermarket chain. There are two ways to make that leap:

  1. Turn your home into a mini production line

  2. Partner with a manufacturer or co-packer

Both approaches have pros and cons, let’s go over these.


Scale up your home


There’s no bigger dream than owning and running s successful business from home. However, when it comes to a business that requires you to take over your kitchen, then the biggest impact will be on your family and owning pets becomes a potential show-stopper. However, hopefully you are fortunate enough to be able to convert an area in your home to become a dedicated space or build in your garden.


Before you do, check your mortgage or tenancy agreement to make sure you don’t get yourself into trouble. You will also need specialist insurance and you will need to research your local council guidelines on what restrictions are placed on the use of homes and outbuildings in your area for business purposes.


You may decide to wing it and hope for the best. However, as you become more successful you will inevitably start to upset your neighbours. So, get your local authority’s blessing before that dreaded knock on the door trips you up as you approach the finish line.


Environmental HEALTH

If all is OK, then the next step is to be registered with your local authority’s environmental health service at least 28 days before you are due to open for business. The government website will help you with this. They will advise you what you can and can’t do from your premises and what you will need in order to be compliant.


You could also contact your local environmental health officer for advice before registering as they are extremely helpful. The regulations are strict; however, they will advise you on how to overcome the obstacles you will face. They will go through the principles of good food hygiene, health and the fire & safety measures that need to be put in place making it ‘Fit for Purpose’.


LabelliNG



Nutritional labelling is your next challenge. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as taking the nutritional breakdown from the packaging of your individual ingredients and combining these into a new label for your own product. Again, I would point you in the direction of the government website as that will give you guidance for help with labelling your products correctly. Most supermarket chains require this to be done independently and some specifically state which organisations are on their approval list.


Your ingredients and how they are combined will affect the shelf-life of your product. For many start-ups this will need to be estimated. There are laboratories that will carry out shelf-life testing for you, but it is an expensive option.


Packaging


The final hurdle is packaging. If you are working from home, then you will no doubt be on a tight budget. It might be acceptable to clear-wrap your product with heat-sealable polypropylene, stick on label, and place in a printed box for local retailers. However, for retail chains the packaging needs to be done professionally and this can potentially blow your budget. If you’re not careful here the packaging can end up costing more than the product.


You can use a contract packer (co-packer) for this stage, however you may want to consider contracting out the whole process, which I will talk about next.


Partnering


You can partner with another company for all, or part of, your process. Typically, you have contract manufacturers (co-mans) that will make your product but not package it and contract packers (co-packers) who take a product and package it. Increasingly you will find companies like Fusions Foods that do both, who will make your product to your specification and then package it with your branding.


Partnering can take away much of the risk of producing food products, leaving you to focus on getting your recipe right and the all-important marketing. Partnering reduces staff costs and other overheads. Cash flow is the nemesis of all new companies and partnering, in effect, converts all the variable and unknown costs that might cause you sleepless nights into one fixed price per bar or product line that you can build into your budget.


Recipe Development


Some companies, such as Fusions Foods, take this a step further and can offer you product development packages. They will work with you on developing your recipe to make it ready for large scale production, avoiding the costly mistake of engaging with a manufacturer or packer only to find your product is incompatible with their machines or process. All regulation compliance tests are run, and nutritional values are certified. The product is ready for the shelf with the shelf life you want to achieve.


Scaling


Working with a partner from the outset will help your business scale with demand. You want to avoid the scenario where you scale up your home production line, only to find you have to start from scratch and find a partner at a crucial time when you land your dream customer.


Many manufactures only deal with large customers, sizing out the up and coming new stars of the snack bar industry. Here at Fusions Foods our focus is on working with new companies and partnering with you throughout product development and onto small-batch production. Our goal is to help you get your product out there and investing in a relationship that will one day see you scale-up and see your product in every store and supermarket across the nation.


Please do tell us if you have an idea for an article you would like to see here. We welcome ideas and feedback.
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