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Food biz feedback, ideas, suggestions

triple J

New Contributor
Aug 8, 2007
48
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21
Utica, NY
I am trying to start a food business. I have a food product (sausage) that is unique to my area but is no longer around much anymore. It comes from “The Old Countryâ€, Italy and is something that the “old timers†use to make that adults today fondly remember eating as a kid. Anyways, there are a couple of people around here that make it and sell it “black marketâ€. My husband and I also make it and have sold it but we want to sell it legitimately and have a store in Cooperstown, NY that wants to carry the product. We sell the sausage for $25/jar and it costs about $5/jar to make not including our time. We are working with a University that specializes in working with food entrepreneurs and they have tested our product and have given us suggestions on tweaking it to make it compliant with state guidelines. The problem is it takes about 45 days to make and we will soon be approaching our third try. So it’s a lot of just sitting around and waiting. I have ideas for other food products as well- maybe we should start developing them but they aren’t our passion. I’m trying to stay focused and I’m having a hard time. My question is what do you suggest I do in the meantime while I’m waiting? Do you think this could be profitable? Looking for ideas or suggestions.
Thanks!
 

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Z5 FILMS

Contributor
Aug 13, 2007
462
75
48
The Woodlands, TX
What do you mean it takes 45 days to make? I'm guessing you're aging it or something? I know nothing about sausage making. Anyways. Try to find others that would be willing to carry it. The more people you can get to carry it, the less sitting around you will be doing. In the meantime you can work on marketing and branding to keep you busy.

Look how long whiskey has to age. That takes around 6 years. 45 days is a duck walk. You can do it.

Also during the meantime, you could set up website and try to market it that way. You never know, other people might like it beside old folks from the old country. Do some testing and see.
 

kimberland

Bronze Contributor
Jul 25, 2007
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There's a reason why the timing for most product development is at least 3 years.

Do you have the package designed and the mock ups made?
The samples done (those could be one-offs, not your mass production)?
The copacker agreements in place?
The sales materials ready?
The appointments made with distributers and stores?
The distribution system ironed out?
Your collections policies in place?
There's a million moving pieces.
Plenty to keep you out of trouble.

: )
 

MJ DeMarco

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I like the idea, it has sizzle, assuming the product tastes great. You've got some clever marketing hooks and if you can back that up with a good tasting product -- I like it.

I can visualize "Black Market Sausage ... so good, its almost illegal"

Key item is the quality of your product -- the great marketing hooks only support the base of your product.

How many times to you come across a new energy drink where the product sucks, yet they sell millions? Never underestimate the power of good marketing hooks.
 

MJ DeMarco

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In the meantime (assuming your full speed ahead) is I'd design a website to market the product with the ability for wholesalers and specialty food distributors to buy as well as end users.

I can see a product like that at Trader Joes or AJ's Gourmet.
 

Peter2

Fastane Legend. RIP.
Aug 2, 2007
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While you are waiting for the sausage, this is the time for you to get insurance. The last thing you want to do is to sell a food product without being insured properly.
 
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triple J

New Contributor
Aug 8, 2007
48
13
21
Utica, NY
Thanks guys for suggestions! The product takes so long b/c it's dry cured. And our our only "problem" w/it is the pH is too high for the gov to be happy. Funny though, this stuff lasts for over a year as it is and my inlaws just served year old sausage at their last party- but it's not "safe". Ha! The product tastes great and I've never seen anything similar to it. It's defenitelly a specialty product. My husband and I are focusing so much on adjusting the recipe to make the gov happy we're worried how the final product will taste. Will they make us add so many preservatives that it tastes like crap thus doing things you guys suggested are too premature? Or start putting the systems in place knowing that in the end we will get the sausage we're happy with and it is compliant? We've been playing the waiting game and it's driving me nuts. Thanks again.
 

camski

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Jul 24, 2007
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Noblesville, IN
Are you planning on manufacturing it yourself or using a copacker? Also are you looking at strictly retail or foodservice? Foodservice is nice because it can drive cases for you but your profit margin is less. Also keep in mind that if you manufacture yourself and want to sell over state lines you must be federally inspected. One problem I see with this is recovery time for product. If you have a good sales month it will take you a long time to catch up with production, but also if you have a slow period then you have a tremendous amount of capital sitting on the shelves ( not good for cash flow). On the plus side a long shelf life is very beneficial. Just a few thoughts, I am in foodservice sales, so I know a little bit about food distribution.
 
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triple J

New Contributor
Aug 8, 2007
48
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21
Utica, NY
TGB, I'll send you some when I get a new batch made and let me know what you think. I love getting reactions out of people that aren't from around here.

Still looking for a copacker. From what I understand one of the best benefits in having a copacker is b/c most or all of the liability is put on them? Please correct me if I'm wrong. I found one copacker that will do everything but dry it. So I don't know how that would work w/inspections, liability, etc...??? Camski, does foodservice mean a product goes to restaurants?
 

camski

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Jul 24, 2007
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Noblesville, IN
yes foodservice means that you could sell it to a foodservice distributor and then they would resell it to retsaurants, healthcare, jails, daycares etc. The largest foodservice distributor in north america is Sysco Foodservice but there are many smaller regional distributors as well.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Whatever happened to that guy at the RD forums that was selling gourmet ketchup? Did he have any success with that? I remember he was chronicling his product development journey.
 

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