Bringing a food product to market

July 20, 2014

In February I opened JAMROCK, a Jamaican Pop-Up Boutique, on Bob Marley’s birthday and one product that did very well was scotch bonnet pepper jelly. I wasn’t able to get more so I decided that I would try and make it myself. Although I am still at the beginning of my journey with JAMROCK Jamaican Pepper Jelly I want to share with you what I have learned thus far just in case you have a great recipe you want to share with the world.  Here’s 5 points that I think are really important, they are not in chronological order, many things I think you actually need to do simultaneously.

          1. Create the recipe

This has to be the most important step for obvious reasons. If you don’t love the taste of your product you won’t be able to sell it. I did several blind taste tests with people who would be honest and give valuable feedback. Test your product alongside your competitors and take notes about what people like and don’t like. After you have come up with something you like, eat it a lot because when you go to the factory and have to scale up you will probably have to make changes to the recipe so it is important that you can easily remember what you are aiming for in flavour. 

I loved my recipe when I was at the factory but then I went home and tasted it the next day, after it had cooled completely, I realised it wasn’t perfect so we had to tweak it. I would advise that you tell your producer not to jar your product until you have confirmed the following day that you are happy, just in case you need to make some changes. 

Pepper Jelly Process

Pepper Jelly Process

           2. Find a suitable producer

There are a few things to think about when looking for the right producer. First question you want to ask is if they create bespoke recipes. Ensure you sign a non-disclosure agreement before sharing your recipe.

  • Location: This will affect how easy your product can be distributed.
  • Size of facility: how much can they produce and what is the turnaround time?
  • People: You will have to communicate with your producer often so it is important that you trust them and feel comfortable working with them.
  • Certification: If you are planning to approach large retailers they will find it more attractive if your product is made in a facility that is approved by a respected organisation. 
  • Experience: who are their current customers? How long have they been in the business?

    Pepper Jelly Process

    Pepper Jelly Process

          3. Think about the packaging 

Have a clear vision of how you want your product to look on the shelf. This is the first impression and you have to make sure its a good one. I made the error of ordering labels before requesting a sample and I ended up with labels that felt cheap. I thought that approving the artwork as it appeared on my printer was sufficient. Do not make the same mistake I did, ALWAYS get a sample before ordering your labels. 

JAMROCK Jamaican Pepper Jelly

JAMROCK Jamaican Pepper Jelly

          4. Do your research

Know what other products are already out there, not because every product has to be new, chances are you will not be the first. It isn’t about being the first but it is about knowing what is available so you can know how to differentiate yourself. I always remind myself that there are so many tomato ketchups on the shelf but I still only think of Heinz. Do not be discouraged by competition, use it to fuel you while you aim to be the best. 

Check with your local authority what are the food labeling guidelines.

Take the time to think about your story and how are you going to use it to get others to buy into your product. Where do you see your product, what kind of retailer, what kind of customer do you expect to buy it? 

First taste of Jamaican Pepper Jelly

First taste of Jamaican Pepper Jelly

           5. Start selling

After you have a product you are happy with and have done your research you should be in a position to meet with buyers and begin convincing them to take on your product. Find stockists and arrange tastings to encourage sales. Build a website and sell your product online, I sell my pepper jelly on I will have a stand at the Speciality & Fine Food Fair this September in London so I will let you know what I think of investing in participating in trade shows. 

JAMROCK Jamaican Pepper Jelly

JAMROCK Jamaican Pepper Jelly

Live, Love, Eat!

April x


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