A good food safety program allows you to scale up your food business without sacrificing the quality or consistency of your product. With a larger reach, you can get your product into more kitchens, solve more consumer problems, and make more of a profit to keep growing.
Most conversations about scaling up focus on capital, marketing, and sales. These are important, but if you aren’t also thinking about food safety and production, you’ll be left in the lurch when it comes time to actually get your product on more shelves.
Growing your business requires intention, planning, and a big dose of food safety. A high-quality food safety program ensures you can produce a consistent product at the scale you need to sell in more stores to a bigger audience.
Food Safety Requirements for Scaling Up
The first stage of scaling up a food business often means moving from a home kitchen to a commercial kitchen to have more space to make your product. Commercial kitchens are larger, with different equipment from a home kitchen. Your production process will probably change and you need to make sure that your food safety plans reflect the changes.
After working in a commercial kitchen for a while, you may realize you need even more production capacity and choose to work with a co-manufacturer. A co-manufacturer is an existing company that will manufacture your product for you. This saves you the time it takes to produce the product and means you don’t have to purchase expensive equipment like bottling lines.
Co-manufacturers require food safety plans that guide the process for making your product. These differ from your plans for the commercial kitchen because they incorporate new equipment and larger batch sizes. The co-manufacturers need clear guidance on how to make the product and how to keep it safe from pathogens or allergens. You should also ask the co-manufacturers for their own food safety programs to make sure that your product is being made by a safe and trustworthy company.
Food Safety Benefits to Scaling Up
Food safety plans and processes ensure you are following all the regulations as you grow your business. Working with a food safety expert to create these plans also gives you an extra set of eyes to make sure your product stays consistent and high quality even as you scale up.
Foolproof food safety plans keep your product uniform even as you stop being the one to make each batch. A thorough plan means that each product is made in exactly the same way as the one before it, which results in a reliable product that customers will purchase again and again.
A food safety expert can also help you make sure you’re sourcing the ingredients you want in the quantities you need, that your product fits the dietary restrictions you say it will, and that your labels are accurate and informative.
At Food Safety Mid Atlantic, we value our food safety plans, but we equally focus on big picture food safety support that allows our clients to scale up. The following case study shows the true benefits of a focus on food safety as a company grows.
Scaling Up Case Study: Work with a Co-Manufacturer
A client who was ready to scale up and looking to work with a co-manufacturer approached us. The co-manufacturer required that the client have a food safety plan for their product and actively took part in the conversation about how to create a plan that was actionable in their facility.
This client had been making their product in a commercial kitchen, and wanted their product made in a larger volume by the co-manufacturer. The ultimate goal of the project was to end up with a product that had the same level of consistency and safety regardless of where their product was made.
Our food safety expert honed in on three areas of this client’s food safety process that needed attention:
- Sourcing ingredients locally
- Adhering to dietary restrictions
- Correct labeling of allergens on the labels
This client had been using locally based distributors for most of the ingredients in their product when they were producing at a smaller scale. However, we had to have some hard conversations about whether those distributors could handle this increase in production.
Would a local farmer be able to provide them with enough produce for larger batches? If said farmer wasn’t getting tested for microbial safety would the co-manufacturer be willing to use those ingredients? Could smaller distributors provide the volume of ingredients that the co-manufacturer required?
These weren’t straightforward questions to answer, but ultimately they led to a sourcing plan that ensured high-quality, safe ingredients in the right quantities to keep the product consistent.
Our food safety expert also noticed discrepancies in some ingredients purchased from larger distributors. The client intended to make a vegan product, but the distributor did not guarantee the cocoa was dairy free and the client did not list milk as an allergen on the label. Our close attention to detail allowed the client to catch the error and switch cocoas before it led to a potential recall down the road.
Finally, our food safety expert inspected the client’s labels and noticed that they failed to list sesame, the newest major allergen. The client fixed this error before the labels went to the co-manufacturer and ended up on hundreds of products.
Supporting this client through scaling up to work with a co-manufacturer wasn’t simple, but it was worth the time and effort. Our client can now put their time and energy into product development, marketing, and growing their company while knowing that their product is being made safely and consistently.
Before you make the leap with your food business, stop and check your food safety processes. The goal of scaling up is to have more product on more shelves and this might mean making the product in different facilities. A solid food safety plan means you end up with product quality that drives repeat purchases and allows you to continue to grow.
If you’re ready to take that first step to grow and want an extra, expert pair of eyes on your food safety process, schedule a free consultation today.