Are you launching a wholesale, bulk food company? Maybe you’re looking into selling grains, legumes, animal feed, pet food, or another type of food people tend to purchase in bulk. Bulk food is a good business to get into. When your prices are right, you’ll get more corporate orders and you can sell directly to consumers through buy clubs.
Whether you’re the manufacturer or just the wholesale middleman, here are five tips to make your bulk food business successful.
1. Automate your processes
Automation is huge in every industry, and bulk food is no exception. When you automate your processing, you not only save labor, but you’ll be more efficient. For instance, you probably already know it’s important to automate the filling process. Manual filling is too labor-intensive. However, you’ll also want to automate the weighing process with a check-weigh scale.
Some check-weigh scales will weigh your bags as they pass over the belt and can weigh up to twelve bags per minute. The automation doesn’t stop there, however. These scales will sound an audible alert whenever a package is overweight or underweight, and will reject packages according to your pre-programmed standards.
Automating these, and other processes, will not only save you time and money, but your workers will be less likely to become injured due to the heavy nature of your products.
2. Fill the unmet needs of an existing market
Is there an existing market for bulk foods that has unmet needs? It’s easy to meet the needs of large corporations, so think about the average consumer for this one. Are there groups of consumers who would like to buy your products in bulk, but can’t because of the cost? Perhaps you can consider starting a buy club for consumers.
Plenty of bulk food warehouse companies offer buy clubs to consumers. Often, they charge a small monthly fee that allows individuals and small businesses access to warehouse prices. The prices are slightly higher than what large corporations pay, but it’s enough of a discount to be enticing.
Many local communities gather groups of people and business owners to share an account to meet the minimum order requirements. For example, Azure Standard offers bulk food at discounted pricing without a fee. However, to get a delivery, there is a minimum order amount of around $500, depending on your account and location.
By offering discounted pricing directly to consumers, you can meet the needs of small communities that have local food systems in place. You can supply small kitchens with the bulk ingredients needed to make the food they sell to the locals, and you can save families money on foods they eat on a regular basis.
3. Look into licensing requirements
Before you start your business, make sure you know which licenses you’ll need to obtain. Sometimes food businesses need more licenses than it seems. For example, if you sell anything other than food, like canning supplies, you might need a separate license.
You might also need a food handler’s permit depending on what ingredients you handle, how you handle your raw ingredients, whether you combine ingredients, and more.
4. Rent a commercial kitchen
You might be wondering if you should rent, buy, or build a commercial kitchen for your business. Ultimately, only you can make the decision that’s right for you. However, renting a kitchen is likely the best option when you’re just starting out. If you build too soon, you may get stuck with a layout and a building that doesn’t work for your needs.
When you start out by renting a commercial kitchen, you’ll have time to settle into your routines and you’ll know right away what additional features you’ll need in terms of layout and space. You may even need a specific counter height.
Buying a commercial kitchen as a property investment may not be the best move unless you also own the land and plan on staying in the same location permanently. Although, if you’re also into real estate investing, you’ll know if it’s a good investment or not.
5. Follow all FDA regulations
Regardless of what type of bulk food you sell, make sure you follow all FDA regulations. There are severe penalties for violations that range from fines to being shut down.
Some regulations can derail your plans and make things a tad inconvenient. However, no matter how small you think the issue is, it’s not worth the risk. To run a successful wholesale food business, it’s critical to follow all the regulations that will keep you in good standing with all the regulatory agencies.