The leap from making food for your family and friends to making grocery products with your own brand can be a daunting one. Many factors must be considered when deciding to take your product to another level. For example, do you want to create a product that is local or regional, or do you want to compete on a national scale? Processing and packaging is a consideration, as is licensing, pricing and shipping. Setting yourself up for success when creating your own brand of grocery products requires a number of background preparations be made before you can sell your first item.
Come up with a name for your brand and go through the process of registering a trademark for that brand. Decide what type of product you wish to brand and how many different items you want to have under that brand's umbrella. Narrow your focus at the beginning, starting with just a few products initially. You can always expand the product line at a later date.
Fine-tune your recipes to make sure that they have something that sets them apart from the competition. Keep packaging and storage issues in mind when crafting your recipes, as grocery products sometimes have to travel long distances and can sit on grocery shelves or in storerooms for weeks or months at a time.
Set up your business. Create a limited liability company through a business attorney or online self-service company to protect you against liabilities, such as business debts and obligations. Set up a bank checking account that is strictly for business purposes and not tied to any of your personal bank accounts.
Check with your local government office to find out what sort of licenses, permits and certifications you need to operate your business. Obtain a food vending license, food handler's card or ServSafe certification, as required so you can produce food products for sale.
Determine where you will produce your food product line. Secure commercial kitchen space if you are going to produce it on your own or contract with a commercial packer to process and package food. Locate a food broker through a food trade association or your local university extension office to help locate a commercial packer who can meet your specific needs.
Develop your products labeling and container. Create labels that are eye-catching and give your brand a personality that sets it apart from any possible competition. Include important nutritional information on labels such as ingredients and possible allergy indications. Create a functional container for your food product, one that showcases the product but also allows it to travel well and be shelf stable.
Hire employees to help you mass produce your food products if you're going to manufacture the products yourself. Hire people who have translatable experience, such as foodservice workers or production line employees. Advertise for workers in local publications and on websites. Review all resumes yourself and conduct personal interviews with potential candidates to find people who can help make your business a success. Add more employees as you expand your business. Set up your business to be able to withhold taxes from employees, as well as setting up access to worker's compensation, unemployment insurance and health insurance
Create a website to sell your food product online. Use online software or a webmaster to create a simple website. The site should have a home page, a products page, a contact page (with email address, phone number and mailing address) and a link to purchase your products. Invest in search engine optimization tools in order for your website to show up in Internet searches.
Contact local grocers and grocery distributors about selling your products. Start small by trying to secure shelf space in local grocery stores. Talk to the grocery manager or the store's head manager. Bring samples of your products and discuss your procedures, including sanitation and packaging.
Based in Virginia Beach, Mark S. Baker has been working in editorial for more than 20 years. He has served as a writer and editor for publications such as the "Houston Post," "Boca Raton News" and "Interactive Week," among others. Baker also has a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University and has his own catering business.