1 of 3
Consumers enjoy a good selection of locally produced products.
2 of 3
BC produced Tabletree Juice has won many International Awards for taste!
3 of 3
Farmers' products pair well with wine.
Meet Your Maker 2014, gave participants a great opportunity to network with producers and buyers alike. For those who may have missed it we have some tips on how to get your value added products to more markets. Patrick Clancy of Choices Market and Joan Haddow of Beez and Treez Specialty Foods spoke on how to get your product out there. Here is a summary of their workshop.
For Distribution in Stores
You can sell your product directly to the stores or through a wholesaler. Even if you use a wholesaler/distributor, you still must convince the store to take your product. Sometimes your wholesaler will look after advertising, but every one is different so ask lots of questions before you sign on the dotted line.
You may choose to go with an agent. They will provide you with your own sales team to sell your goods for you. Your product will fit in better with an agent/broker if it is more mainstream; such as a beverage or frozen product.
Either way – most stores have their orders placed through their head offices. You can approach them yourself, but you must be prepared.
- Ensure you have all the permits required to legally operate a food manufacturing business.
- Develop attractive, functional packaging for your products that meet all CHFA labeling guidelines for the type of food product you make.
- Price your product fairly, but keep in mind that you also need to make a decent profit.
- Make a list of grocery stores in your area and note if these stores carry any products similar to yours, the prices of those products, and the name and number of the buyer or head store manager.
- Cross the stores off your list that do not match up with the product you are trying to sell.
- Ask yourself whether you have the ability to produce enough food to meet the needs of the grocery stores on your list.
- Conduct market research before approaching any grocery stores by selling your food at a local farmers market for a couple of months. Let the buyers know your sales to date.
- Contact the stores on your list, introduce yourself, and ask for a meeting to present your food product.
- Bring your market research, product samples, packaging and business documentation to your presentation. Be prepared to tell the store's buyer what your product is, how it is different from what their store already sells and how it suits their customer base.
For Selling to Food Services Markets
Food services markets include:
- Cruise ships
- Hotels with meal service (mid to high level)
There are several things you need to do before approaching any buyer in these markets.
- Be aware of the seasonal needs of each industry
- Make sure your product packaging meets high standards – be creative
- Make sure your packaging will keep the product fresh for months
- Be respectful of the Chef’s/buyers time. Best time to call for an appointment is between 7 and 9 a.m.
- Have all your products with your for the presentation, don’t just bring a few if you have several.
- Bring in anything you need to taste with the product. For example with jams or spreads you should bring your own crackers
- Bring any ideas you have for pairing, for example your cider with a particular protein or dish.
These industries are always on the look out for new producers to fit their mid to high end needs. As with approaching stores, you need to know your price point, your sales to date, your maximum output of product per season, and your story.
Good Stories Sell Products
A good story sells product. Tell them about how your product came about. Is it a family operation? Is it hand-made in a small industrial kitchen by special needs workers? Are the ingredients organic, or picked from heritage plants or harvested during a full moon, whatever the backstory is, don’t forget to tell it.
Above all else, be respectful of the buyers’ time and their space. Come equipped with everything you’ll need, be on time, keep your presentation short, clean up after yourself, and leave on time. Don’t forget to have promotional information to leave with the buyers including all your contact information.
Above all else, remember, this is a process. If you have any questions along the way, seek out expert advice. Happy selling!
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
Suite 400 – 4321 Still Creek Dr.
Burnaby, BC V5C 6S7
Tel: 604 666-6513
Fax: 604 666-1261
CFIA deals with information on product composition, permissibility of ingredients, nutritional claims, etc.
Universal product codes
Universal Product Code (UPC)
Electronic Commerce Council of Canada (ECCC)
885 Don Mills Rd
Don Mills, ON M3C 1V9
Tel: 416 510-8039
Fax: 416 510-8043
Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD)
102-6940 Fisher Rd. S.E
Calgary, AB T2H 0W3
Tel: 403 250-6608
Fax: 403 250-7022
Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG)
902-2235 Sheppard Ave East
Willowdale, ON M2J 5B5
Tel: 416 492-2311 1-800-661-CFIG
Fax: 416 492-2347
BC Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
Industry Competitiveness Branch
PO Box 9120 Stn Prov Gov
Victoria, BC V8W 9B4
Tel: 250 356-2944
Fax: 250 356-2949