How to develop an innovative healthy food product in 8 steps

I recently developed a food pop up that will sell a combination of innovative food items. Sold in the pop up are grab and go foods like gluten free wraps and health shots, partly made items such as porridge pots and ready to eat items like protein balls. The project saw some super exciting products cross my desk and I felt like I was living and breathing food ingredients and packaging – even thinking about them in my sleep (funnily enough I saw so many I wasn’t hungry anymore – new weight management technique perhaps?!).

This all got me thinking of the hundreds of amazing entrepreneurs I come across who have a fabulous idea but are unsure how to implement it. So I thought I would pen my 8 steps to creating your own innovative food product.

1. Be clear on your idea

Know what it is you want to develop and what format you want it in. If you want to sell a health bar and not a cookie for example, you need a bar manufacturer, ingredients that work in a bar and experts who know how to make them. Listen to what others have to say but stand your ground on your concept. Having said that…

2. Do your market research

Ask people if they would buy it. Ask your friends, your colleagues, social media buddies or even better get some insight from an objective panel of people who are not emotionally linked to you. They will be more honest and give you feedback that is invaluable. Even one little nugget of information might change the course of your business. You might discover that even though you adore peach flavours not many consumers within the healthy market do (top tip!).

3. Find your why

Passion sells! Find something that you are willing to live through thick and thin and talk about every single day for the next few years. You will probably not end up eating it ever again but you will need to talk about it a hundred different ways to a thousand different people again and again. And again.

4. Only use quality ingredients

Do not use poor quality ingredients. Your product will only taste awful and you won’t be happy with it. Don’t be tempted by cheaper ingredients to reduce your bottom line. People are willing to pay more for products with good ingredients. You can use this as your USP; discussing provenance is a hot topic right now because consumers want to know what they are eating. They are fed up of eating things that make them feel awful. Good ingredients = good product. No compromises.

5. Find a good manufacturer

Whether it is in your own kitchen or elsewhere. If you start off at home in your kitchen like many start ups do make sure you have a good system of documentation. Check and recheck your formulations and calculations. Have your local council give you the okay for health and safety (they are actually mostly really helpful) and fire away. In the meantime your quality assurance should be so good that you can take it to your back up manufacturer should the need arise to scale up operations if you get some big orders coming in.

6. Have quality nutritional data

Getting this right at the beginning will prevent issues later on. Nobody wants to reprint their labels because something was wrong on the initial one. It can be a costly mistake and can even cause loss of trust from buyers and consumers; change is not a good thing and people notice the smallest things. Ensure your nutritional data, health claims and biological testing are accurate and provided by a trusted professional. Asking other start ups for referrals can be a good way to find someone you trust.

7. Get some sales

Starting with online sales can be a great way to prove your concept. Having your own ecommerce site enables you to control marketing and promotional activity providing insight into what activity may be working best.  You can then respond quickly to seasonal and market demand. Being stocked in an existing Amazon shop can also provide kudos to potential buyers once you approach bigger stores.

8. Know your Buyers

Every category (type) of product has a right and a wrong channel. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. If yours is a cheaper buy for consumers in a supermarket you need to achieve higher margins for those buyers. For a more premium product in a specialty store the story behind the product is more important. Approaching buyers with relevant information is key so get to know what they are looking for and give the key points clearly and concisely the first time. At meetings be professional and respectful of their time and requirements.

And finally make sure you have fun: enjoying the process is important. If you are happy you are more likely to make a success of your venture. Remember there will be some turbulent times but if you have followed your passion using a methodical process you will get there, whether it is for this product or another one.


For more advice on anything above please contact me.

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