Top Tips for starting your own small food business

I’m currently working on the 2nd Edition of my book, Money for Jam – the essential guide to starting your own small food business. It was published in September 2013, and since then, legislation has changed in relation to food labelling, or Food Information for Consumers (FIC) as its known in the trade! So, I thought this might be a good time just to share my top tips for starting out, just to keep you happy until my new book is published that is!

The header image (taken by @annaclarequinn) features a few jam producers I’ve come across – Daisy’s Pantry from Co.Louth, a Blas na hEireann winner; BoPeep Jams from Drumshanbo. Co.Leitrim, relaunched recently and a favourite of many childhoods of the past; Bramble Lodge Foods fro Co.Sligo; Erin Grove from Fermanagh (I love love love this unusual flavour!!) and Murson Farm, also from Sligo.


(1) Do your research – check out the competition! Is anyone else doing what you’re thinking about doing? If so, are they doing it well? Can you do it better? Look at their packaging, prices, where they’re selling, portion size, labels, branding.

(2) Try to fill a gap – make something that isn’t already available locally. While it’s very easy to start baking at home, the market might be saturated with cupcakes in your area. Shop keepers are always looking for something different that will sell.

(3) Work out your costs – how much does it cost you in ingredients and time to make it (and don’t forget to pay yourself!). This will help you to work out how much you can charge for it:

A Cost to produce (raw materials & packaging)
B Cost of processing / baking / preparation
C Cost of transport
D Cost of selling (market fees, store charges)
E Staff costs – starting with your own required income!
F TOTAL
G Sales value
PROFIT (G-F)

(4) Ensure that your kitchen can handle your new food business – ask your local authority / Environmental Health Officer to call and take a look. Most home kitchens are fine for low risk foods like baked goods, bread, jams, vegetarian, but NOT ok for meat, fish, dairy, prepared salads, sandwiches. You might have to extend or move to a suitable premises.

(5) Get Advice – from mentors, advisors, networks, Local Enterprise Offices and others – ask everyone for help, there’s plenty of it out there so you don’t have to shoulder all the burden! Check out www.supportingsmes.ie for potential funding supports.

(6) Leave the Branding / logos until you have your recipes sorted out. People love this part, but sometimes jump ahead to it too soon! Branding is no quick job, it takes consideration. Check out this handy guide.

(7) Labelling is really important – there are very particular legal requirements for labels which you must follow including Allergen declaration, weight, nutrition information, ingredients and so on. make sure you do this properly before you print labels or order packaging. Mistakes can be costly!

(8) Packaging will help protect your food as well as simply presenting it for sale. packaging might also determine the target market – no matter how good the food is, if the packaging is cheap and shoddy looking, it won’t sell to high end consumers.

(10) JUST DO IT – Once you make your first sale – you’re in business!

The photos below feature some producers from Mayo & Roscommon who took part in the Bord Bia / SuperValu Food Academy programme in 2016/17, one day this could be you!

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Jammy ideas for Pancake Tuesday!

Why not try something a little more adventurous than the tried and tested lemon with butter and sugar this Pancake Tuesday? Folláin, who have been producing fresh fruit Jams, Marmalades, Relishes, Salsas and Chutneys for nearly thirty years in West Cork, are encouraging budding gourmands to get creative for the national day of feasting on 4th March.

Pancakes with Follain Strawberry

So who are the people behind this food business?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wazuKgFE6HU

Mairin and Peadar O’Lionaird have always shared a love for sweet things. When Mairin met Eithne Ui Shiadhail in the honey business in the early 80s, it turned out they both loved cooking and had a shared passion for preserving traditions. What better way to preserve tradition than to make a traditional preserve? Using Eithne’s grandmother’s recipe, they whipped up their first batch of Grapefruit Marmalade in Peadar and Mairin’s West Cork kitchen and brought it to the market in 1983. It wasn’t long before Peadar was roped into the production line and the trio became the core Folláin team.

Folláin is celebrating the art of creative combinations, so this Pancake Tuesday you can surprise the kids, your housemates, or that someone special with something a little different, and very tasty!

As with all great culinary creations, you need a great base. My failsafe recipe is from Delia Smith’s book, and requires no resting of the batter. Dead simple!

For a simple treat, add Folláin No Added Sugar Strawberry jam, roll & serve!

The more adventurous among you might want to try some of the following;

  • Toast some Chopped Walnuts on a flat tray under the grill. Combine some fresh Vanilla Seeds with a dollop of Natural Yogurt. Add a spoon of the now vanilla infused yogurt to the freshly cooked pancake, and top with a dollop of Folláin No Added Sugar Jam, finish with a  sprinkle of toasted chopped walnuts.
  • Add a spoon of Folláin No Added Sugar Orange Marmalade to your pancake, and combine with a serving of sour cream for a surprising zingy flavour!
  • Core and coarsely chop an apple. Drizzle split hazelnuts with Blossom Honey, and roast on a tray in a hot oven for 20 minutes. Mix hazelnuts with apple pieces and Folláin No Added Sugar Blackcurrant  Jam, or Folláin Extra Fruit Blackberry, spoon the mixture into a freshly baked pancake, and serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt (or crème anglaise for a decadent desert treat!).
  • Grill slices of fresh mango on a griddle pan until the skin is slightly charred. Toast flaked almonds on a high heat on the frying pan until golden brown. Spread Folláin No Added Sugar Raspberry Jam onto one side of a freshly cooked pancake. Add the charred mango, toasted almonds, and a spoon of ricotta cream cheese; serve with sprigs of fresh mint.
  • For a savoury treat, fry some spring onions and mushrooms for 2-3 minutes to soften, add some spinach leaves, stir until the leaves wilt and all the excess liquid has evaporated.  Remove from the heat and stir in some cooked ham. Spoon a little ricotta and Folláin No Added Sugar Irish Tomato Relish on a pancake, top with some of the mushroom and spinach mixture. Roll the pancake up, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes in a lightly oiled oven proof dish until thoroughly heated and lightly browned. (for extra fire, use No Added Sugar Folláin Flame Grilled Pepper relish).

Folláin features three different ranges, including; Folláin Extra Fruit Traditional Irish Preserves, Folláin No Added Sugar Preserves and Folláin No Added Sugar or Salt Relishes. The ranges are available from leading supermarkets and independent retailers nationwide, log onto Follain.ie for more information.

Folláin products contain no artificial ingredients, no colourings, no flavourings, no preservatives, no additives and no GM ingredients. They are also fat free, gluten free and suitable for vegetarians. The fruit is meticulously hand prepared and cooked in kitchen style conditions but with the highest level of quality control assured each step of the way.

For more information on the full range of Folláin products and to get some great recipe ideas, log onto www.follain.ie, or like the Facebook.com/FollainIrishPreserves or follow the conversation on @FollainJams.

Follain