We still dream about creating a product that is helpful to people who have food allergy and intolerance and yet tasty to the rest of the people in their family.
To fuel this aspiration Steve and I attended the 2013 Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco in mid January. We signed up for two classes about getting started in specialty food manufacturing. Sitting next to me in one class was the guy that instigated our visit to the show: Stephen Hall. He is the author of a very useful book for anyone who wants to break into the food business.
A short conversation with Stephen left us with the take-away message : A person can make money in the specialty food business if they do not become too rigid. Pondering this conversation more, Steve and I realize that flexibility seems to be key to success in business or life in general.
My rigidity of thinking….the habit of seeing myself as not knowing enough was shaken when I read this article. It highlights a product that we tried while we were at the Fancy Food Show. Previously, when we were considering labeling for our products we met the article’s author, Carol Harvey from a company called Palate Works. We found her to be very helpful and professional. Our lesson from her article is: People, even those who have a product called Holy Crap, don’t have their #@$! together when it comes to labeling. According to Harvey, they made health claims that would put the product in the category of a drug and therefore subject to different rules and testing.
I am sure they have the best intentions and it isn’t a competition, just a realization that there is a lot to learn when one ventures into new territory.
More insights from our one day at the show include:
The world has enough specialty cheese, olives, pasta sauces, candy and chocolate. Aisle after aisle of the show told us that.
The businesses using traditional foods from around the world which are naturally gluten and dairy free did not market their products in that way.
We had a chance to taste Joia Soda, a product from Minnesota that we’d like to include in our new restaurant offerings this summer.
Soy wraps can be used to make walking salads…..instead of walking tacos. (Walking tacos are popular in our area…a bag of taco chips with hamburger and cheese added to the top.)
We tasted honey vinegar and thought it could be a local thing and it was very good.
Coconut milk and water were very big at the show. However, they tasted different each time we sampled them.
Grapefruit flavor is really nice. We wondered if we could incorporate that into our foods.
We tasted a green tea frozen yogurt made from a mix. It convinced us that we don’t want to carry that product.
We saw Angie’s, another Minnesota business, this one from our neck of the woods: Mankato. Her products were also in all the stores we shopped in California too. Go Angie!
At the end of the day, Steve and I found a couch and took notes of all we learned. Overall, it was an eye-opening experience to see so many people trying to make it in the world of specialty food manufacturing.