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HOW TO GET YOUR HOMEMADE PRODUCTS TO MARKET

Janice Giddy
 March 05, 2020
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So you have a great roti recipe. One that's been passed down for many generations from your great-aunt Pat to you. You’ve taken it to a few social gatherings and your friends and family are always raving about it. It’s always a hit at your local farmer’s market, and you have your neighbours constantly encouraging you to take the next step: getting into a grocery store. But, where would you start? And how would you go about it? 

Most people tend to think it’s as simple as getting in touch with the store representative, sending them a few samples, and that’s that. But it turns out it’s a little more complicated and includes a few more steps than they'd like to think. How then, do you get your homemade products to market?

To answer this question, we spoke to the founder and Managing Director of Entecom – Janice Giddy – to find out what it takes to get your great-aunt Pat’s roti recipe from your very lovely kitchen to a pre-packaged recipe you could sell in a grocery store:

Q: I have this brilliant idea for a “make-and-bake” roti recipe and I would love to get it to a grocery store – where do you think the best place to start would be?
A: My advice would be as follows: 

  • Spend some time conducting proper market research first to establish demand for your product and whether the business project is feasible
  • Go to as many retail shops as possible and study similar products available on the market. 
  • Purchase as many samples of these products, collate and analyse the prices, pack sizes, packaging, ingredients and labeling declarations. 
  • Perform taste comparisons and document all your research and ideas as you go
  • Attend food and packaging exhibitions and speak to other food business owners to learn as much as possible - they have so much knowledge and experience to share
  • Attend a Food Safety Training course to familiarise yourself with the rules of the game
  • Ask for expert advice from small business consultants to help you with your business plan

Giving roti to your friends and family to test your product acceptance is a great way to start, but taking the time to understand the “rules of the game” before you jump in and regret it later is essential if you are serious about being a food business owner. This will require some studying on your part to understand the legislation involved and to ensure that your facility and your product complies with the required legislation before you start trading.
If your project is feasible, an alternative could be to approach an existing bakery who is already compliant with the required food legislation and food safety standards and a mutually beneficial agreement could be reached where the manufacturer can pack the rotis on your behalf. You would need to consult expert legal advice in this regard to consider the pros and cons and to ensure that your great-aunt’s recipe is protected.
Should you decide to rather manufacture the rotí’s yourself, finding a facility that complies with all the municipal requirements regarding business zoning and then applying to your local municipality for a CoA (Certificate of Acceptability) for your food premises would be the next step. This will require an inspection of your premises by one of the local Environmental Health Inspectors. They will inspect your facility to see whether your premises comply with the R638 (SA Hygiene regulations about the handling and transport of food products).
In Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of Part one of eBook in our series “Your Guide to Food Safety Certification,” we discuss what is involved and what you need to do to get started.
Supplying to retail chain stores will require the implementation of additional food safety standards over and above those required for your CoA, but all of this is covered in our eBooks series.

Q: Do I need a professional qualification?

No, you don’t need a professional qualification, however, if the CoA for your food premises is issued in your name, you will require accredited food safety training as per the R638 requirements.

Q: At what stage should I contact the store representative?

In my opinion, talking to the store representative should be done in the initial market research stage as part of the feasibility exercise to enable the inclusion of all this information into your business plan and thereafter I would suggest once you have confirmed that your product and facility complies with legislation and you are ready to go to market. Most retail chain stores will only list your product if you have proof of GFSI Intermediate level certification for your premises.

Q: I already have a small following at the local farmer’s market, are there any special requirements for this market?

All food products sold to the public need to comply with the Food Legislation, so even supplying the local farmer’s market would require a CoA for your food premises and that your product complies with the labeling legislation. The R638 defines “food premises” as follows:
"food premises" means a building, structure, stall or other similar structure, and includes a
caravan, vehicle, stand or place used for or in connection with the handling of food.

For more information on Food Safety training and compliance requirements you can contact us at info@entecom.co.za or call us at (041) 3661970 or visit our website at: www.entecom.co.za
So, now that you know that going to market with your roti recipe is possible but it requires a thorough understanding of the market and legislative requirements before you take that leap of faith.

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