Whether you're in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Portland or any of the top rated foodie cities, there's no doubt you've been feeling the upswing of the artisan food movement. Even if you’re not the genius behind that new line of delectable dark chocolates, you may have always had a dream to launch a one-of-a-kind (insert dreamy food product here). When these dreams begin becoming reality and you’re knee-deep in ingredients and manufacturing equipment, it’s important to be properly educated to include all critical aspects of the launch process for ultimate success.
Artisan food making is somewhat of an offshoot of the grassroots food movement. Millennials and the like are feeling more inspired, educated and empowered to take matters into their own hands and finally get their craftily curated products into the marketplace! Whatever motivates foodies out there, I encourage you to keep the new products coming, but remember to have food safety precautions top-of mind.
When developing a brand new food product with minimal food industry experience, it’s most definitely a challenge, to say the least. There are so many moving parts that one may not fully comprehend and it’s relatively easy to feel discouraged at various points throughout your endeavors. Below are a few tips to help keep you educated and feeling supported throughout the process of successfully launching your artisan foods into the market.
Read, read, read! Keep up on FDA and USDA legislature to ensure you are up to date on all of the most recent details. In addition to these requirements, keep up with food safety-driven organizations like foodsafetynews.com and saiglobal.com, which educate and host various food safety-focused trainings. Additionally, there are several modern books written about launching products, such as Good Food Great Business by Susie Wyshak and Cooking up a Business by Rachel Hofstetter, to name a few. These authors include step-by-step tips and strategies to help you succeed.
Seek professional guidance. When it comes to food safety, there's nothing like professional support. Consultants, retailers, auditors, you name it—they all have one thing in common, and that’s valued industry experience. Ask your network for recommendations or search websites like LinkedIn to identify professionals in your area. Don’t be afraid to reach out; you may even find yourself surprised by the information individuals are willing to share with you to support your brand. One of the most amazing things about the food industry, in my opinion, is that it is very closely knit, and if people like something you are doing, they want to help you succeed.
Stay connected to your community. Places like farmers markets and local community events are wonderful avenues for relatively low to zero cost marketing and exposure. In addition, product specific shows like artisanalla.com, uniquemarkets.com and artistsandfleas.com occur a few times a year and allow booth buy-ins for product innovators. Last but not least, check if your city has a small business development center nearby. These institutions are structured to help small businesses succeed and can usually get you in touch with right individuals.