Family recipes are a wonderful way of passing down culinary traditions from generation to generation. They’re more than just delicious food (although they certainly are that). They are an important and meaningful bond passed between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. They remind us of our loved ones when they’re not around, they give us comfort when we need it and they’re guaranteed to become the focus of conversations at dinner parties. Most of us have a recipe that we’ve inherited from our parents, be they a bizarre and idiosyncratic culinary creation or a subtly perfected interpretation of a classic like, say, mama’s lasagne.
If you’ve a passion for food or a background in business or food science, you may not have considered turning your vaunted family recipe into a lucrative business endeavor… But it’s proven itself rewarding for many who’ve spotted a gap in the market that their family recipes (or their own creations can fill). With a little business knowhow that sauce-splattered recipe card could transform into a goldmine…
Know your niche
There’s certainly quantifiable demand for niche food products and ready meals in a market that’s oversaturated by big brands. The key to success, however, lies in knowing the niche you want to appeal to and carrying out market research accordingly. A strong USP is what helped Tasty Brand founders Shanan Swanson and Liana Weintraub turn their ideas for organic and nutritious children’s food and turn it into a 7 figure enterprise in its first year. Do you want to appeal to nutrition conscious parents, new vegans who have jumped on the veganuary bandwagon and are desperate for plant based alternatives to their omnivorous favorites, or those who miss the taste of yesteryear and would give anything for a bite of comforting nostalgia? All of these are viable markets but trying to be all things to all people will set you on the path to failure.
Nail down your recipe
Now it’s time to start converting your recipe into a repeatable and sustainable manufacturing enterprise. Start buying up ingredients and be sure to get a tax exemption to enable you to buy foods wholesale. Here’s where you’ll likely have to balance quality with sustainability. You may not be able to exactly duplicate your recipe in a way that gets a reasonable margin out of the sticker price. Contact a food scientist to provide regulatory input and create a nutritional label for you.
Invest in production
When your recipe has been appropriately adapted it’s time to start investing in production. Go as large as you need to. You may be able to manufacture from home at start before upgrading to industrial skinning machines and other mechanized production methods before eventually outsourcing production to an external factory. Be sure to manufacture in accordance with your ability to sell.
As with production, start small. Farmers markets are a great proving ground to begin peddling your wares. As your reputation grows you may be able to start widening your circle of distribution through local vendor programs and even regionally recognized chains.