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As a published food writer and blogger, I often am asked “can you cook?” In my British accent I answer, “but of course.” “But of course” has been a line made famous from the marketing genius of Grey Poupon. Walk through the condiment section of your local super market, and there are hundreds of choices. Grey Poupon has cleverly created a marketing strategy that has broken through the noise and clutter in the condiment industry.
Differentiate or die is the truth behind the food business. Grey Poupon package their dijon mustard in glass bottles to portray a premium brand so that they can charge more. A hint of wine is also added to create a distinct flavor. Kraft has done a great job in maintaining Grey Poupon as a premium mustard brand. I think they should produce a new rendition of the classic Rolls Royce commercial.
Traveling around the world, I learned how to make food that taste great but with ease. Try buying short ribs which are around $1 for each rib. Layer a thin coating of Grey Poupon on. Next, a dash Kosher salt, not table salt, on the ribs and add sliced garlic. Pop into oven and broil 350 degree for 20 minutes. Let it rest for 6 minutes. The result: meat that is tender, juicy, just like prime rib. And the process, “set it, and forget it.”
Also, try a great light dressing. Combine 1 tablespoon of Grey Poupon with 3 sprigs of chopped mint, fresh ground pepper, pinch of Kosher salt, 6 oz of extra virgin olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of mirin. Mix and serve. The result: light tangy dressing. This dressing is also great drizzled over oysters on a 1/2 shell on a BBQ grill.
You have seen it on Food Network. Yes, you can bottle your own sauce, manufacture it, market it, and make a fortune. Not so fast. There are bizillions of sauces in America. First, ask you yourself this. Are you filling a demand or creating a supply? A few years ago, I was the marketing manager for a Hawaiian BBQ restaurant. They thought about bottling their sauce. But was there a demand? No. Listen carefully to your friends. Look for trends. To succeed, the food business is like basbeall. Anticipation is key. By the time the ball comes your way, it’s too late. If you’re serious about the industry, read trade journals. The association for sauces and dressing is a great way to start.
Lets break it down.
1st base: recipe. Start small. Try your sauces at Farmer’s market. Get feedback and make your mistakes there. I don’t know any successful entrepreneur that has not “failed their way to success”. When you ask feedback, be specific.
-How much would you spend on dressing?
-What is your favorite brand?
-Do you look at the nutrition labels?
As a bootstrap entrepreneur, your Research and Development is the people you meet.
2nd base: contact manufacturers. A bottling facility may be around your area. Don’t focus on $800,000 on buying your own bottling plant. Instead, talk to smaller bottling groups and ask them to bottle your sauces for you. They have the fixed cost of equipment and labor so let them take the risks.
3rd base: attend trade show for sauces. You will meet distributors that may be interested in being a representive for you product. These rep have relationships with buyers from Costo,Target, and other big box stores. Be seen, be heard.
Home run: 1st year, set you goal of being part of a number of people who will distribute your products.
Trends: Green is in. No doubt. Are you able to produce packaging that is 100% recycled. Organic. People want to eat more healthy and live longer. Using orgainic ingredients may cost more, but you’re targeting a certain niche. Fun. Don’t forget the fun factor. Make a dressing that combines pineapples and mint, great for reducing heat from buffalo wings. Name it “Fire Extinguisher.”
Hint: Avoid the crowd. If you’re making an Asian sauce, don’t market your sauce in Asian. Try the Midwest. Consumers they are thirsty to taste ethnic “pie.” Chinese chicken salad is popular in the Midwest, not Asia. I remember being in Chicago for work a few years ago. A white co-worker from Minesota told me he love crab rangoons. Potstickers filled with cream cheese and fried. That is not real Chinese food, most of us are lactose intolerant. Funny story.
note: I left a lot of details with financing, marketing, and sales. Feel free to comment and email me if you want more advice. Don’t forget about your exit plan. In the long run, do you want a bigger food company such as Kraft to buy our your sauce company.
Association for Sauces and Dressings