To help you create your food or drink idea, I’ve put together this FAQ’s page which includes the topics about which I get asked most often. If you have any specific questions not answered here, please feel free to ask.
Q. ‘What makes Brand Clock different to a food packaging design company?’
My work starts earlier in the process than is the case with a food brand/packaging design company. I look at your product idea as well as your brand design needs along with and every aspect of how best to bring your idea to market. This includes an in depth look at your product concept and market sector including positioning and price points, developing your business plan and financials and identifying the best partners to help you. Our work together may progress to brand and packaging design but not until you have a minimum viable product, a route to market strategy and a robust commercial plan.
Q. ‘What is a minimum viable product?’
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of a product idea which satisfies all the criteria for further development. This includes identifying a real gap in the market, potential market size and share, defining manufacturing feasibility, costs of product development, working capital requirements, customer reaction and routes to market.
Q. ‘How much does it cost to develop a food or drink product idea?’
There are a number of variables which impact on the cost of developing an idea through the minimum viable concept stage to full scale manufacturing. The more unique the idea, the more likely that costs will be higher but this isn’t always the case.
My initial phase of work with my clients includes a full product concept evaluation, following which guideline costs are determined, a robust business plan created and working capital needs assessed.
Q. ‘How long does it take to get a new food or drink product to launch?’
There are a number of variables which impact on the timeframe of developing an idea from a minimum viable concept through full scale manufacturing to launch.
I preapre outline timings within our initial workshop and detailed stage by stage project timings follow once all stages of work are defined. Typically, projects can take from three months up to a year.
Q. ‘My food product is already on sale but I’m looking to scale up. What are the steps?’
One of the most exciting aspects of the food and drink sector is the huge variety of products on sale and the different stages of these brands in their life cycle.
Many start life in a home kitchen then move on to renting a commercial kitchen before looking for third party manufacturing or even setting up their own dedicated production facility.
Inevitably, the next step is likely to require investment to ensure adequate working capital to build stock in advance of sales. And to activate additional marketing to create consumer pull to match increased production volumes.
It’s important to understand what success looks like for you as this should shape how you approach the next stage.
You can bootstrap your idea, spending the absolute minimum or look to various opportunities to raise funds: bank loan, factoring, Innovate UK loan, Virgin Start Up loan and Kickstarter to name but a few.
But do consider that funding is the essential fuel to allow you to accelerate your business growth and reach your targets faster. If you starve it of funds then at best you’ll slow your growth and at worst you’ll stall and possibly fail.
Q. ‘I’m really excited about my food idea, but the food sector is new to me and I don’t know all the things I need to do or how to do them.’
Seeking expert help early in your business lifetime can accelerate your learning and understanding and ensure you avoid costly errors on the way. I support my clients every step of the journey, discussing and agreeing on how to resolve each challenge as they arise.
Take a look at our article “I want to launch a new food idea but need expert help’ which describes all the various stages in detail.
Q. ‘I’m trying to understand all the things I need to include in my food labels and web site, but I don’t know where to start.’
There are a myriad of regulations which govern the labelling of food, drink and health products. Many of these are product specific and relate to the presentation of messaging within your brand packaging and within your marketing material but I have in-depth knowledge of legislative requirements and can advise best process and how to prepare information for regulatory compliance and approval.
In the UK, the Food Safety Agency governs the legislation originally set down when we were members of the EU and Trading Standards are responsible for enforcing the relevant regulations. In addition, the ASA enforces the Code of Advertising Practice legislation which relates to messaging on your website and broader marketing communication through social media channels for example.
How much information you need to include on your packaging depends on whether your product is pre-packed and designed for selling in retail or whether you are selling one to one from a market stall for example in which case you might be deemed to be a micro business and outside the scope of packaging legislation. It’s crucial of course that irrespective of what you are selling that any of the 14 major allergens that are present in your products (including those occurring by cross-contamination) are highlighted to consumers.
Q. ‘Demand for my food product is outstripping supply and I need a solution to increase volume fast.’
We help and advise clients on how best to scale-up their production volumes, and often this includes a temporary solution whilst a longer-term solution is put in place.
Of course it’s important to ensure that increasing volumes don’t impact negatively on margins beyond a level which is sustainable and I work with my clients to produce 5 year profit and loss and cashflow models to ensure that the impact of increasing volumes can be properly assessed.
Q. ‘I’ve got a fantastic idea for a super-healthy drink that everyone will love because it’s good for them.’
As mentioned, there are numerous regulations governing the labelling of food, drink and health products. Regulations in relation to any claim about improved health or good for health are particularly robust and care is needed to ensure that it is permissible to make such a claim in relation to an idea.
Any health claim made must be a permitted claim under European Food Safety Agency legislation and these often quote specific volumes or frequency of consumption in relation to a specific claim.
Fortified products can be particularly challenging as it must be demonstrated that the level of vitamins at the end of shelf life are equal to or in excess of the levels indicated within the labelling.
As many vitamins degrade over time, overage is a mechanism used to ensure that residual levels at end of shelf life match or exceed those quoted but in some instances this can add a significant cost to the ingredients.
I can advise on how to best approach this issue and guide you through permissible and appropriate claims for your product.
Q. ‘It’s been mentioned that I should research my food concept, is this a good idea?’
Research is a valuable tool but depending on the extent and complexity of the research objectives, costs can be considerable.
However, undertaking semi-informal research with local community groups or indeed friends and families can often give a steer around key considerations such as preferred taste, packaging formats, pricing and even possibly design ideas.
But do consider that results may not be entirely accurate as formal research requires a high number of respondents, particularly for question and answer style research undertaken online.
Trial sales are a very good way of gaining product feedback and they can also help in identifying most popular flavours and appropriate price points.
Q. ‘How much money is going to be needed to get my idea from concept to on sale?’
There isn’t a definitive answer to this question as projects can be approached in a variety of different ways. For example, are you working full time on your project or all you still employed elsewhere? Does your idea need an unusual manufacturing solution which may involve capital equipment costs? Are you looking to launch slowly or to hit the ground running with good distribution at launch? Is your route to market online, via retail or both? What are the critical success factors to get your product on sale?
I can work through these various scenarios with you to provide a guide to costs.
Take a look at Food Brand Strategist for some insights into how I help clients launch new food and drink products.