Wednesday 21 March 2018

Any suggestions for bringing a new food idea to the market?

Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn

Q: What should I be considering when bringing a new food product to market?

A: First and foremost, you need to decide on your objective for the project. If you already have an income coming into your household and this is an opportunity to bring a great-tasting product to your local community, which is likely to generate only a modest income, then the risks are not as high.

If however your objective is that this business has to create a full-time paying business for you and perhaps ultimately go on to make a lot of money for you, then the decision-making process in advance needs to be far more robust.

There are many crowded categories in the marketplace, like jams, chutneys and indeed some gluten-free products, and if your objective is to develop the business, then the risks associated with entering some of these categories is very high and you would need to tread carefully. The good news is there are lots of supports for emerging food producers now with the likes of the Food Academy programme run by the Local Enterprise Offices.

Once you have done lots of research and decided there is a market opportunity, investing in great branding and packaging is probably going to be your next big priority. Getting this right will determine the success rate of your product. Trying to take shortcuts and find the cheapest design labels simply doesn't work.

I have written a lot about being clear on your Unique Selling Points and if you are to succeed in your journey this is something that you need to identify at an early stage.

Not alone do you need to identify your USP's but you need to be a master of communicating them. This requires you developing strong expertise at brand building, digital media communication and strong PR in food media circles.

Another area you need to think about is distribution. I am sure you are planning to distribute the product yourself at the beginning, and this is the correct thing to do to allow you to understand the marketplace, but you will very quickly find that partnering with a good distributor will be an essential component of your journey.

Finally, I would say you are going to need buckets of passion and energy and an acceptance that you are probably not going to earn a wage from your project for the first 12 to 24 months. Don't be put off by any of the road blocks you encounter. There are dozens of producers having great successes and making lots of money in recent years in the food sector. I wish you well on your journey.

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