Food entrepreneurs have a recipe for success

Take your recipe and turn it into a viable commercial product with free assistance from MSU Product Center.

You know you have it when your friends and family comment on your great tasting lasagna or bean dip or another favorite. Plus, it is becoming common to take a recipe and make that recipe into a commercial food product for sale at the grocery store. You, too, can bring your creation to life, and there is much assistance out there to get you started on your recipe for success.

There are many constraints to consider before attempting to bring your food product to market. Some of the constraints involve how the food is processed, the ingredients of the product and if the product is frozen or shelf stable. There is assistance available to you for free from the Michigan State University Product Center.

Some other issues when trying to build a food business is obtaining licensure to produce your food product. It varies by jurisdiction, but in general you will need to obtain a license to produce your food item. In some cases, you will have to create a HACCP plan, and the MSU Product Center would also be able to assist you in writing one. Some food items need a “process authority.” Typically for canned foods, this process authority is an evaluation of your production process and a measurement of the pH level of your food item. After review, you will receive a letter stating that your process has been reviewed and your production system produces human safe food.

You will also have to consider how you are going to sell your product. Some food entrepreneurs want to jump right in and hire a distributor to get the product into as many stores as possible as quickly as possible. Most of the time, however, most grocery stores want to see a successful product before they bring the product into their stores. The Product Center can assist you in developing a marketing plan for your product.

There are other things to consider as well. Your product will have to have a product label declaring the contents, net weight and product name. and your product will have to be sold in some type of package. A plethora of packaging options are available.

You will also have to consider a marketing plan of action because most products need to be introduced to an audience, at the right price, at the right time and in the right quantity. Check out the Product Center website to see what services are offered for you to build your recipe for success.

Paul J. Werner is a Michigan State University Extension educator from L’Anse, Michigan. You can obtain free business counseling by registering with the MSU Product CenterWerner has many years of experience in small business ownership and entrepreneurship; he and his wife currently own two small businesses in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. 

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