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Darren Wingfield

Darren Wingfield

Commercial Manager

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5 incredibly useful tips for a startup Food & Drink business

Posted on 22/11/19  |  3 Minutes
Worker operating a machine

Starting a food and drink business is all about making those connections with customers. But this isn’t always easy from the outset. Getting it right can feel like a matter of trial and error. It doesn’t have to be this way. Some food and drink brands have grown out of a single event, while others have taken more time. This is not a one size fits all approach. There are, however, some common themes for being a success in this arena. Here is our list of the 5 top incredibly useful tips for any startup food and drink business –

5 – Get the product right

This might seem obvious, but the word of mouth in this sector is massive. If you launch before you have perfected your recipe, or range of flavours, then you can end up moving backwards instead of forwards. Don’t put your product out to market until you are totally happy with it.

This might take some testing of different flavours and ingredients to get it just where you want it. And perfecting a recipe will often need taste tests from consumers. All of this is classified as part of the Research and Development of a business and can be part of a valid R&D tax claim. This will put vital cash back into your business, so if you want to find out more drop us a line.

4 – Get all the regulations and registrations sorted 

Knife and fork on a plate

You will need to know your stuff in terms of regulations. The UK food industry is one of the most regulated in the world, as the protection for the public is a high priority. So, you must be up to speed with all that is required of you. The basics are –

  • Environmental health certificates
  • Food hygiene certificates
  • The labels on your products
  • Details on nutritional information

There may be other areas to consider, based on the product or products you are making. Whatever these may be, the local Trading Standards Office and the Food Hygiene Agency are the best places to start looking for information. Get this right and make sure you are fit to trade from day one.

3 – Start by selling locally

There might be a huge market out there for your products, but you can’t reach everyone in the world with a single piece of marketing. It works best to start in your local market. This will keep your transport costs low and enable the business to grow by word of mouth and the experience of your customers.

Speak to local farms shops and delis, as well as considering attending markets to get the word out there. The local marketplace is the ideal place to get off the ground and from there, you have a solid base to look for the next stage. Your food or drink business is something that will need to be nurtured to develop to where you want it to be.

Fine Dining restaurant layout

2 – Distributors are the key to new markets 

Getting your food and drink brand out there will take a lot of time and effort for most. One of the most effective ways to get your products on the shelves is to use a distributor. They have contacts in all the supermarkets and local shops that can open doors for you. Find out who the key distributors are in your particular niche of the market.

Speak to retailers and find out who they use. This is a wonderful place to start and will give you a list of contacts to nurture. This in itself can take a little time, so go to networking events and look to build a set of contacts that will help you build a better business in the future.

1 – Understand the financials

Food on a table in a fine dining restaurant

The most crucial element for a startup food and drink business is understanding the financial aspect of the business. Growing a customer base and selling the product must come behind getting the margins right and ensuring you still make money. This will differ according to where you sell your products, so your plans have to be agile.

At Harlands, we help startup food and drink businesses to understand this and forecast the way you will achieve your goals. Having someone that can keep you on track here will boost your business and give you the best chance of making it a success.