Are you working towards your goals? Are your products going to support you achieving your goals?
Confession time. I am not keen on most reality tv but I love shows that are about people either starting or growing their business, usually with the help of an expert. I adored the show Mary, Queen of Shops and I have been watching reruns of Be Your own Boss, another British show, where Richard Reed searches for companies and people to invest in.
While the focus of these shows is not on food, food examples appear from time to time and the episode of Be Your Own Boss I was watching included a family business that made potted meat. The part of the show that particularly struck a chord with me was where Richard Reed queried what the goals were for the business.
The potted meat being made was a premium product with a premium price. To get in to the major supermarkets, the product would probably need changing to bring the price down, potentially compromising it quality. This was not to say the current business couldn’t support its owners, but rather that the growth might be limited.
This is a challenge I have seen a few artisan food businesses face. Often artisan food businesses are created because the owner wants to create a high quality specialist product. But that may also mean the product either can’t be created in mass quantities or sold for a low enough price to appeal to the mass market audience in the supermarkets, all while giving the supermarkets enough of their own profit. I am talking about the product that needs an expensive special ingredient or one that requires a lot of hands on work.
But does that matter? Well that really depends on what your goals are for your business. As Richard Reed said, he knows plenty of people who are making a profit they can live off selling at markets and in specialist food shops and delis. But if you want to get into the major supermarket chains then you need to think about products you can scale up and produce for a competitive price. Plus depending on the type of product you make, you also need a good shelf life which may mean more preservatives in your food.
If you are looking for investors then they will often want to see that goal of working with the large retailers. There are of course always exceptions, especially if you can show other ways you are going to grow your market.
There is no right or wrong answer here, you need to do what is right for you and your business. The most important thing is to get clear in your mind where you want to take your business and then start working towards that goal.
As to that potted meat business, Google tells me it is still running and are mainly selling in specialist food stores plus a few Waitrose supermarkets. I have no idea if they got the investment or not.