Ever thought of taking that family recipe, trying to get it onto supermarket shelves and watch the moolah fly into your bank account?
If only it were that easy!
It’s hard enough to get any business off the ground, never mind having to deal with the perishable nature of food goods, having to keep them fresh on supermarket shelves and dealing with product past it’s best before date.
Chair of the network of Local Enterprise Offices, Oisin Geoghegan has been sharing insights about some of the challenges faced by start ups in the food sector.
While its not too difficult to do some research among family and friends on your gastronomic concoction, it’s a long road to worldwide sales.
‘You can set up in a very small way, fairly easily with a reasonably modest investment. But scaling it up then is a different story. When it comes to supplying into multiples, when it comes to scaling your business and producing at a more industrial level, then, that does present a whole different set of challenges to you. And also, I think, really importantly, having a good product isn’t just the be all and end all. Obviously, if you look to sell your product, it has to be a reasonably good quality, at least for people to spend money on it. And but that’s not really what it’s all about. There’s some fantastic products, all of us would know probably products in our head that used to be available that are no longer available. I mean, we’d like to see them back in the shelves but they’re no longer there. And so it’s not just about having a good product, there is a myriad of factors in play there. It’s a very complex web of things that need to be addressed and looked into and and planned for’ says Oisin.
Roy Keane, famously said fail to prepare, prepare to fail. We chose not to get into discussions on the Corkman’s departure from the 2002 World Cup, but it is a philosophy that anyone embarking on entprepreneurial journey would need to bear in mind. (The bit about preparing, not leaving a world cup set up.)
‘When you embark on a journey in any business, it’s very important to plan that out. To do your research, to do your groundwork, before you make a substantial investment in it. That is absolutely critical and even at a very early stage when you have come up with your product.’ says Oisin.
The importance of marketing
Spending time thinking about how you present yourself to the outlside world is also a useful exercise says Oisin.
‘I think clever food companies the ones that are successful and sustainable are led by people who have really thought things through.
‘They have looked to the competition, and they are very clear on what their competitive edge is. They’re very clear on what kind of consumer they are targeting. It’s all about marketing in the world of FMCG or fast moving consumer goods.
Making your product stand out better. Just because your product is on a shelf does not mean it will sell. You could have an inferior product next to yours, but it looks better. It looks more attractive, packaging is better, selling a better story. And consumers might automatically buy the other product even though yours might be much tastier and much nicer and much healthier and everything. But you’re not communicating that as effectively.’
All of which can of course influence the price of your product.
According to Oisin ‘it doesn’t have to be the cheapest at all. It certainly doesn’t have to be cheap. But equally, your pricing strategy has to match with your your consumer strategy. And we haven’t even touched on things like distribution, route to market and how you’re going to get your product on the shelf or even reach your customers, how you’re going to get your brand recognised, which in itself is can be hugely costly for a small business.’
Sometimes producers need to make a decision. Do I really want to expand at a national level if I do that, it brings a whole host of other complications in terms of say, managing all of your retailers all around the country and keeping the supply chain going there. A lot of local food producers will will supply the local hinterland which is it within a kind of a half an hour drive of for local deliveries or whatever and and that can generate reasonable income but sometimes they find they struggle to grow sustainably beyond that.’
If none of that has put you off check out https://www.digitalschooloffood.ie/ to push on with your plans for global domination!