Beyond Friends & Family — Testing Your Specialty Food Product (and how to package it!)

You have a great family recipe or you develop a fabulous new recipe.  You give the finished product to friends and family who rave about it.  You wonder if you have something more here.  Ever have this happen to you?  How do you know if you truly have a viable commercial product?

I started out with no vision of producing anything at all that would be shipping out nationally;  just something that might sell once a year for a local charity.  I have told the story many times of how I started making True Nut almonds with local maple syrup.  But how did I know I had something that would succeed in the marketplace?

While friends, family and even co-workers were very encouraging during the development process and would make great yummy noises when eating the almonds, I often wondered if they were being brutally honest about how well they actually taste.  So, how does one really know?

For me, it was as simple as deciding to attend a few small crafts fairs.  Several I did with my daughter who was 9 at the time.  I suppose having a cute child with you could have also lured potential customers into our booth, however, since we had spent some time working together on it, and she wanted to attend, I it felt best to honor her request.

What happened at these events are what sealed it for me – that I had something more marketable than I could have ever imagined.  Lines of customers wanting to try them and once they did, they would usually would buy them.  The success rate was astounding.

So, If you have a recipe you have developed and you are skeptical you are getting truthful answers from your inner circle, attend a couple craft fairs and see if you have something more.  This will help determine if you want to move from just making them at your home to producing them at a commercial kitchen…..and if you have a young child to join you that never hurts either!

Good packaging is the next step in the puzzle.  You can have the best product in the world, but you aren’t always standing next to it to talk to the customer.  Your packaging needs to do that.  It needs to entice a customer to pick it off the shelf amid hundreds of other products and take it home.  On Monday, May 13 Matt DeGrosky — who has been with TrueNut since the beginning — will be offering a workshop on product packaging at the Hannah Grimes Center. Learn more and register for the workshop here.