Starting Your Own Food Business (Part 1) - What to sell?

During our times of COVID-19, we have braved many challenges, and have come out the other end fighting. Although we’re not quite out of the “danger zone”, our world of commerce as we know it has changed nevertheless. With higher rates of unemployment and uncertainty for the future, many of us of are looking for new ways to work from home and create a new source of income for ourselves and our families.  Whether you’re living in an apartment in downtown Toronto, or on a farm in rural Ontario, there is a clear cut option available for you – creating a home based food business. Artisans cooking, baking, brewing and growing their own produce to sell at their local farmer’s markets are now able to also sell their food online through FreshFind. An e-commerce platform that connects vendors to customers. Whether you love to farm, grow and cultivate your own herbs, make your own juice, bake, cook, make cheese, whatever it is – you can open your own e-commerce store on FreshFind and create a new income stream for yourself!  So you’re curious about your next steps? We’ll use this mini-blog series to cover everything you need to know and consider when starting your own home-based food business.  In this week’s post, we’re going to cover the first and most important step of starting up – your idea. What are you going to make and sell? Market Research The most basic aspect to consider when deciding what you’ll be making and selling is – your passion. Yes, I know, sometimes passion isn’t enough, but it is certainly a good place to start. Consider your food passion, and understand where the demand for the goods that you can make lies. Beginning with market research, it is important to understand the trends, we don’t always have an internet breaking idea that we can use to create our own trend, so it is important to understand the current trends of the food industry. What is the most popular food on the market right now? How do you draw in the customer? Ensure you product quality is excellent and although what you offer may not have to be unique, but there has to be a market for it, however niche.  Niche There is a wide range of niche markets, and they are ever growing, keeping up with different trends and markets allows you to find a category that you can fit into as you cultivate your business. Research markets which interest you and alter your products if you can to fit into these categories. Vegan and vegetarian categories in recent years have been accelerating. Creating a new business which caters to this category can be an excellent market to tap into. Keeping in mind that individuals in these markets may also follow other dietary restrictions, you can bolster your business by also offering Kosher, Halal, or allergen free options. Combining any of the niche categories can open doors for you within many different markets, allowing you to cultivate a business within several niche markets at the same time. Make sure to do your research, understand your customer, what percentage of vegans and vegetarians also consume certified organic and fair trade products? Or perhaps, are you able to provide novelty products that fit into an allergy based dietary restriction? Make sure that your product, no matter what it is, excites both you and your target consumer. No Money? No Problem!   Of course, I understand, we’re all a little strapped for cash these days. That’s why we’re here, reading this, right? Well, that’s alright. There are plenty of opportunities to be had in low-cost start ups. Look for ideas that would limit your start-up and overhead costs. There are plenty of products that don’t require a lot of equipment or adjustments. Small batch goods are an excellent start for your business. You’ve seen some of these ideas before and I’m sure must have thought to yourself what cute gifts they would make. Well, make those! Some low cost options for you can be cupcake and muffins and in a jar (bake your own), perhaps coffee and tea blends, dried herbs and herb blends, candy, pickled goods, or even small batch sauces and dry ingredient mixes (made from the secret recipes you’ve been refusing to give to anyone for years). Whatever your idea or budget is, the possibilities are endless! So, get on your that computer, and start clicking away in the name of research and science. Find your niche, your market, and your passion, bottle, jar, or wrap it up, get online, and start selling! Written by: Rina Dubosarski