You’ve got a brand-new product that is so amazing and you think it could compete with other well-known brands or it is something completely new and original idea that will excite customers.

The product won’t do anything sitting in your kitchen or at your work premises, will it? So, you need to promote it and encourage one of the main four supermarkets to start stocking it.

Hang on though, before you start phoning you start calling your supermarket, there are some important steps you need to follow before you ever take the idea out of your kitchen.

By following the five steps below, you’ll be a little closer to being ready to take your food out into the real world and show the buyers for those supermarkets that you are reliable and professional with a well-prepared sales pitch.

 1) Get Your Paperwork in Order

This means relevant and current environmental health department, food safety and hygiene certificates.

If you are looking to be successful and want to run a legal and safe kitchen, you need to ensure that you are putting the necessary importance on food hygiene. This will help you to not only reduce the chance of customers getting food poisoning from your goods, but will also protect the precious reputation of your business. There are four important C’s that you need to keep in mind with regards to food hygiene – Cooking, Chilling, Cleaning and Cross-Contamination.

The HAACP or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point principles are what you need to use to formulate a plan for food safety. You need to identify the hazards that should be reduced, removed or avoided and the areas you are most likely to encounter these hazards (also known as the critical control points).

If you’re not UK-based, look for your local country requirements and follow them to the letter.

Extra tip: It is a good idea to take a look at food assurance schemes. Things like the Red Tractor logo. Although these kinds of schemes are all involuntary, some food businesses have certification on these schemes as an essential requirement. When you are not involved in the production of ingredients, it’s crucial that your suppliers are registered with these assurance schemes.

2) Hire a company that already has relationships and are experts at selling to supermarkets

It’s tempting to cheap out and not use them, but are you serious about your product? if you have a great product which you believe in, don’t stumble at this hurdle. It’ll cost more NOT to use them.

Most food companies believe because they’ve invested so much in their product that it should simply be a no-brainer to suppliers.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but no product will ever sell itself.  Yours isn’t a special exception. The only way to get your foot in the door and make important contacts is by working with experienced specialists in the food industry.

Food marketing companies like Greenseed have done this for years, they also know what the stores you’re targeting are looking out for, and what information they need before making a decision.

This will save you time on the front-end as going back to make these fixes to your product could be both costly, time-consuming and damaging of your reputation.

3) Directly Contact Supermarkets – They’re Recently More Receptive to suppliers directly contacting them

You could try the old fashioned “boot the door down” method and approach a supermarket directly. We wouldn’t recommend this, unless you have done all your homework, can sell the benefits of your product and your product is of the highest quality. They will show little interest otherwise, or worse, remember your product in a negative light if your pitch goes particularly badly. Waitrose openly advertise their ‘Locally Produced’ initiative, as does Sainsburys with an option on their site to ‘become a supplier. These are just a couple of examples. If you have any doubts, it’s always best to use a food marketing company.

4) Do Detailed Research of the Market

If you have ever watched Dragon’s Den or the Apprentice, you will know that you are expected to have well researched knowledge and information about the target market and how your product fits into it at your pitch. You should know your product inside out and about all the cooking techniques and ingredients involved. Why is something there? Does it have health benefits, texture or add flavour? These are the kinds of questions you should know the answer to. Supermarkets need to know that they will be able to sell your product at a price that is affordable and profitable to them. However, you need to carry out the research yourself. Some questions to include as part of your research could be:

  • What was your impression of the product? (such as packaging, texture and taste etc)
  • How much would you like to pay to buy this product?
  • If available, how often do you think you would buy this product?

Extra tip: Be sure to ask for demographic details. This information will give the supermarkets some help as to how and where they could sell your product. Millennials, is not a segment of the market, as there are over 14m millennials in the country. However, your product may be aimed towards those professionals in their 30’s who are health-conscious, but have limited time to actually cook proper meals.

5) Use the Regionally Identifiable Products Trend to Your Advantage

You may be able to make your product stand out from the crowd to customers by highlighting and focusing on the location of the manufacturing or ingredients involved. Think Melton Mowbray pork pies, Gloucestershire cheese and British Beef.

Supermarkets have always seen regionally identifiable products as big sellers. It is one of the easiest and most effective ways to differentiate one product from another, and nowadays customers expect a particular level of quality to come from particular locations.

Locally-sourced products are a big and growing market. There are a new group of consumers who are interested in saving and preserving the environment and want to buy food, but reduce their carbon footprint by reducing the food miles, or distance it takes for ingredients to travel from the farm, factory or processing plant to plate.