The food product industry is highly competitive, but trends are always changing with consumer eating habits so there is always room for a newer, tastier and less expensive food products. Many food entrepreneurs create a product and market it, only to find that they should have taken their time to follow a step-by-step planning approach to make sure that their costs are not too high or that the local health or zoning department doesn't shut them down.
Research your local and state food production and distribution laws, including the zoning laws for your intended manufacturing facility.
List all your ingredients and the steps involved in preparing your new food product. Include the tools you need and the services you will employ to prepare and distribute your product.
Write a production plan. This should include your ingredient sources and costs, volume break points, manufacturing steps and how they will be accomplished and facilities and storage needs with timeframes relating to product delivery. Also include your use of tools and equipment, and make notes for future needs.
Write a marketing and distribution plan that includes packaging, which is how you create an image for your product. Consider distribution factors for your food product, which should be targeted toward your specific consumer base and where they shop.
Create financial projections. Include the cost of production per unit of product, product wholesale and suggested retail price per unit, marketing costs, administrative costs, facilities costs and insurance costs.
Design marketing materials for your wholesale distributors and for your target consumers. A marketing package contains production, price and dietary information; consumer brochures and samples. Your distribution team should give these packages to end-retailers such as store managers and food supply companies.
Perform test production runs and taste testing in local stores and at events before you announce your launch with marketing materials. Have your tasters fill out recommendation forms so you can prove to store owners that your product will sell in their stores. Taste tests are great ways to market your product.
After you have honed your production and distribution plans, you marketing will make the difference between success and failure. Packaging is extremely important for a food product because it tells the consumer if the product is delicious, healthful and filling or has other important properties such as energy, calming or therapeutic qualities. Determine what your target consumer will relate to in terms of packaging, and test your assumptions before committing to a particular package design. The law requires that you to list ingredients and dietary information on your packaging, and your distributors will require materials detailing your ingredients' quality, production and fulfilment time; volume pricing and any legal information such as trademarks, licenses and permits.
Be careful about making any written or obviously implied claims for your product's health benefits because if it is presented as a therapeutic product, you may unwittingly move it from the food product category to the drug category and have to comply with FDA regulations.