I Invented a Food Product
How do I go about getting a sauce that I made in my kitchen to a product that can be sold in stores?
First, you will have to meet our minimum quantity of 3,000 cases and ingredient restrictions. Please see our Qualifications page for more details.
How do I know that my formula will not be stolen
Please go to our Non-Disclosure Agreement page. This document will be executed by Palmetto Canning Co. if we decide to take a more in-depth look at your product. We have offered this doucument in a printable format so that you can use this to protect your formula.*
Often Asked Question
A common question we are asked is, "How much does it cost per case to make?" This is similar to walking onto a car lot and asking the salesman, "How much is a car?" There are so many questions which have to be answered before we can give you a quote, that we can not just throw out a number.
Ok, my product does not meet your qualifications, What Now?
Please go to our Other Manufacturer Links page to find a packer better suited to your needs.
"Take Their Own Product to Market"
Our machinery is geared toward mass production, many times, we cannot offer our services to those who are just starting out.(See Qualifications page.) Many hours of counseling people on the phone have led us to develop this page to give you such direction and advice. We have been at this since 1927 and offer this advice as as a guide to those who are not quite ready for our services. Please use this page as a reference to hopefully avoid making some costly mistakes as you proceed on your way to market. We ask that you read the following carefully and also read the Qualifications page before calling. The Qualifications page contains many links to manufacturers who either have lesser minimum quantity requirements or offer services that we do not. We have also listed links to resource sites that can help you navigate your way to developing a legal, safe, and stable product. Palmetto Canning has no financial interest or ownership in any of the companies or web addresses offered for reference and make no warranties as to their abilities or service. However, we try to post references to companies that offer quality services.
How do I convert my recipe to a production formula?
All I have is a home recipe in cups and teaspoons. Is that good enough? Answer: Yes, that is fine, but you have to measure all your ingredients very carefully. The first step in converting your recipe to a formula is to access a very accurate way to measure the ingredients. Keep in mind that when your recipe is scaled up from a full pot to a 1000 gallon tank batch, the most minor error is multiplied by 1000. A good place to start is to go to a local restaurant supply store and get a digital or analog scale that measures in grams or ounces. Using this scale, make a batch as you normally would, but weigh EVERY component. Even the liquids such as water should be weighed. Be sure to keep all your components in the same unit of measure such as grams or ounces. Never mix weighed ounces and fluid ounces as they are NOT the same. Another important step is to avoid using retail products as ingredients such as branded ketchup or branded seasoning blends. The first reason for this is that it is often difficult or impossible to obtain a source for these ingredients in industrial quantities, and secondly, you are paying much more by using a branded ingredient that will skew the cost of your product. Keep your recipe in the "most basic commodity form" possible ... Salt, Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Black pepper and so on... Remember also to accurately record the steps of your recipe. For example, measure the temperatures and times if the item is cooked. Your bottler will take it from that point and scale your formula up to their batch size. Formulas in teaspoons, pinches, and dashes are the bane of most bottlers existence and will not be looked upon favorably.
How do I know that my formula will be safe and will not go bad on the shelf?
How do I get the product nutrition facts analyzed?
How do I get the product nutrition facts analyzed?
Many products are inherently shelf stable, but some seemingly stable products can actually become dangerous if not processed correctly. Many food laboratories around the nation provide the service of analyzing your product to determine stability and safety. Your bottler will advise you as to what technologies they offer such as pasteurization, emulsification, nitrogen flushing, etc. Often your decision as to which bottler to use is governed by the technologies they possess. When interviewing a bottler, ask what laboratory they use or if they have in-house food technologists that can foster your project. Not all bottlers have in-house staff to assist with product development, but can probably refer you to a lab that they use. You will also need direction from these professionals as to determining the shelf life of your product. You will need this information to print on each bottle. These professionals can also assist you in preparing your NELA (Nutritional Education and Labeling Act) panel as well as an ingredient statement for your label. Another area that you will need their assistance is in determining the allergens contained in your product. This is mandatory as of 2005 and can add a substantial cost depending on the complexity of your product.
Below are some links to food labs that we have corresponded with in the past. Geographic location is usually not critical as most correspondence can be done by fax, phone, and Fed-Ex.
How do I select a bottler?
This step is probably the most important and most deserving of your time to research. It is best to go through the steps above before beginning the selection process. Knowing the manufacturing technologies that your product will require will narrow the scope of bottlers you need to interview. There are many resources to assist you in finding the right bottler for your product. If your resources allow, you might want to visit the annual Private Label Manufacturing Association trade show. There you will find a multitude of contract bottlers, canners, packers and many related services. The internet is also a very cost effective way to search. Below are some questions to ask and some suggested links:
- Do they have the manufacturing technologies you require?
- What are their minimum requirements?
- Can they warehouse your product?
- What similar products do they currently manufacture?
- Do they have in-house product development personnel to assist you and what does that cost?
- Ask for a list of references.
- What is their financial condition?
- What agencies inspect their facility?
- Ask to see these inspection reports.
- Are they audited by an outside (3rd party) inspection company such as ABI or NSF?
- Ask to see these reports as well.
- How do they charge for their services?
A contract packer pays for everything and charges you a finished case cost. Some contract packers may want you to provide ingredients or packaging they do not have in their existing inventory - particularly your labels. The advantage of a contract packer is that they very often are able to buy most of the ingredients and packaging in more efficient quantities than the client could. It is important to ask if the packer adds profit to these components or not. Palmetto Canning for example does not up-charge for any on-hand components and discloses all costs of such components. The charges for Palmetto Canning's services are a line-item charge. A contract packer may charge more than a toll-packer, but the economies and convenience often mitigate the difference in cost.
- Is their facility Kosher? (may not apply to your product)
- What form of case marking do they employ?
- What form of product coding do they employ?
- What form of tamper evidence do they offer?
- What type of labeling do they use?
Many distributors and retailers mandate a verifiable UPC & SCC14 bar code on the exterior of the case.
About Labels - There are Different Types
- Pressure Sensitive: peel and stick labels on a roll. If using pressure sensitive, ask them for their wind specification.
- Paper/Glue: self explanatory.
- FBSS : Full Body Shrink Sleeve. If using FBSS, ask what their maximum layflat specification is.
- What bottles do they currently use for other products?
- Ask for a certificate of insurance for product liability.
- Ask if you can be added as a named insured on their policy.
Remember, there are usually great economies in using a bottle or package that is currently being manufactured in that facility.
*Consult an insurance professional and your customers for direction concerning insurance.
How do I get my labels designed and printed?
A graphic artist designs your label on a computer using almost any of the more popular software packages. A good place to start is to select what label company will be printing your labels. If the label is pressure sensitive ( peel & stick on rolls), it is advisable to consult with the label printer to determine what die sizes they currently have in stock that is suitable for your bottle. This will save several hundred dollars in custom die charges. Once you have that size, say 4.25" x 6.75", you then convey that information to your artist to design within those parameters. Some label companies offer design work in house and some do not. The label printer takes the computer artwork and converts each color to printing plates. The set up cost of any label is determined by the number of plates, one per color. There are two basic forms of artwork, process and line art. Process is usually used to recreate a photograph while line art is for drawn artwork. If your package uses an FBSS (full body shrink sleeve label) it is advisable to use an artist who has designed for that type media before. Fort Dearborn Company has many useful tools for developing an
- Art work on disc or via e-mail.
- UPC Bar Code Number (explained below)
- Ingredient list with allergens listed.
- NELA (nutrition facts) panel.
- Wind Specifications of your bottler. This is so that the labels will run properly on our bottler's machinery.
UPC Bar Code Number is assigned by the UCC. You can find out more about them on their website at www.UC-Council.org. The UPC bar code is made up of a combination of digits that include an assigned company code, product code, and check digits.
How do I select a package?
If your product is something like a BBQ or Hot Sauce it is often best to ask your bottler what packages they are currently using. The price of packaging is all about the quantities purchased. Certainly the bottle can greatly differentiate an item on the shelf, but the economies of scale often lead to the necessity of using an "in house bottle" . Many opportunities still exist to enhance and differentiate a product by way of the label, shrink band or other ancillary packaging. Glass is normally used for any product that must be packed hot such a jellies, however plastic is rapidly replacing glass as the standard in the food business. Below are some web sites to browse for both glass and plastic manufacturers and distributors. The manufacturer often requires that you buy in truckload quantities so it is often necessary to work through a distributor such as All American. They stock hundreds of different jars, bottles caps and related packaging materials. If you find a bottle on a manufacturer's site, the distributor can often source that item for you in less than truckload quantities by combining your order with other items. The most important aspect of package selection in the early stages of the evolution of your product is to make sure to select a bottle or jar that is readily available from your bottler or distributor and that the price does not skew your cost. Very often the package can comprise as much as 50% of the total finished cost!
How much money will I need to get started and what are the probabilities of my success?
Of all of the questions posed to us over the years, this is the most difficult to answer. It is true that the "Little Guy" is at a disadvantage in the grocery business, but as mentioned earlier, many products on the shelf today started in someone's kitchen. To get a product ready for market is a considerable expense and in no way guarantees any success. Does the world really need another BBQ sauce? Our answer is that there always seems to be room for one more. Much of your success will be determined by two critical factors: Your determination and finances. Many good products have fallen along the wayside because of a lack of proper financing or a lack of time commitment. It is almost impossible to sell real estate and BBQ sauce at the same time. Launching a product is very costly and if you do not have adequate financial resources in place, the odds against you just increased tenfold. A good analogy is oil drilling. It takes a little opportunity and little luck and many an oil man ran out of money ten feet from oil.
Who can advise me as to how to sell my product?
There are many marketing gurus who will take your money, so be careful. If your desire is to target the grocery trade, you may need a food broker. Food brokers charge a percentage of sales , usually 5%. However, many larger brokers have minimum annual fees of $25k or more. Consult your local phone directory and call some brokers. If they cannot offer any assistance, they may be able to direct you to a smaller broker who can. You can use Google to look for more information about "Food Brokers in Florida". Another approach is to ask the buyer how to approach them and they will often offer advice on the best way to present your item. They may insist on a broker, or they may offer a very different approach. Each grocery chain is different and operates a little bit differently. Don't be afraid to call and ask. Even the big box stores will talk to the "little guys" and often turn them into the "big guys".