You have an idea for a new food product – your friends think its great and you have never seen anything like it on the market. You want to manufacture it but have absolutely no idea where to begin!

You have two choices when faced with this daunting task- you can spend hours and hours figuring out everything from how to start a business, how to find a commercial kitchen or what are the local, state and federal regulations. Or you can hire food industry consultants to help you on the way. It really depends on how much time you have, and how much your time is worth.

Hiring a consultant to guide you on your path is an easy way to bring your product to market. Consultants have experience with co packers, sourcing ingredients and modifying formulas to fit manufacturing parameters. Here are a few things you should know about hiring and working wit a food science consultant:

Keep It Local: Try to find a consultant or a consulting firm that is close to where you live. Face to face meetings, visit to their laboratory/kitchen and group tastings are all great ways to have a good relationship with the consultant and expedite results.

Expect Big Costs: An independent Food science/industry consultant can cost you anywhere from $120 to $300 per hour for their expertise. A consulting firm may cost as much as $5,000 to $50,000 to even begin discussions. There will also be other costs that you need to pay separately like ingredient costs, shipping, lab testing, production runs, and third party analysis (sensory, chemistry, safety)- If you go to a consultant with only $5000 dollars, they will probably not take you on as a client. This is not enough funding to create, develop and manufacture your food product. They may be able to do certain parts of your projects (like you can hire them to JUST find you a co packer or do your nutritional analysis) but always keep in mind that bringing new products to market is expensive. Plan to have at least $25,000 available to spend on research, development and manufacturing.

Be Clear On Budget: Tell your consultant how much you have and how much you can afford to spend. They can figure out the best way to work with your budget, or they may be honest and tell you that they can’t help you without more funding. A moral food scientist will explain the overall costs and big picture expenses that you will have and will want you to have enough to make it through the entire process.

List Specific Deliverables: Be very specific with your consultant about what you want to achieve. If you have kitchen samples you have made, bring them a supply so they can evaluate with you and explain the limitations that may occur down the road. The more specific you are- the better the consultant can assist you.

Understand Capabilities: A food scientist is mostly just that- they are the technical expert- they may not be able to do your marketing, write your business plan, or confirm which flavors will sell best on the market. Make sure you understand what your technical consultant can and cannot do.

NDA’s and Ownership: Make it clear to the consultant that you want to own your own formulas and have them sign an NDA. Most food scientists have no interest in owning or stealing your formula, they create concepts for other people all day long but to be safe and legit, have them sign the NDA and confirm that you will own everything they develop for you.

Bringing a new product to market has many challenges- finding a co-packer, making sure all regulations are followed, using the right equipment and understanding manufacturing limitations are all technical know-how’s that a food scientist deals with on a regular basis. Hiring one will not only save you time but long term money as well. A food scientist will make sure that you don’t violate any regulations (resulting in fines and recalls and damaged reputation)- basically, don’t try to do this by yourself at home-leave it to the experts!

Wow- I can’t believe I did it- but I wrote my first book! It’s called The Food Business Tool Kit For Entrepreneurs-How to Research, Develop and Produce a New Food Product. It took me exactly four months from start to finish, it cost me $6500 dollars to write, $4,842 of which was raised via Kickstarter from family, friends and anonymous interested parties who just felt like supporting me. It took me over 1000 hours to write- and now its done! And it can’t be unwritten- it can only be sold-so I hope.

But.. WHAT is this book really all about??

Buy me!

My book is not for the food scientist– it is written for the regular people – the ones who wake up one day from their non-food industry job (whatever non food people do.. finance, real estate, marketing, sales etc.) and realize that they have a dream of making the next healthy food product with a clean label and sustainable ingredients that is good for you, good for the environment and good for other countries and the world. They rush into their kitchen (after a trip to whole foods to buy gluten free grains and nut powders) and start cooking and mixing and showing their friends and putting together business plans and then….. the really complicated questions come in- the stuff that only the Food Scientists know about .. like:

  • How do I Get this Product Made?
  • How do I find a Manufacturer
  • Do I need to do a shelf life study?
  • What’s a HACCP plan?
  • Do I really need to get the FDA involved in all this?
  • Can I patent my product?
  • Can I tell people my product will save the world?
  • Can my product be shelf stable like a twinkie but without all the bad stuff that the twinkies have?

They start searching around online- and realize that – it is not so easy to find the answers to their questions- so they try to hire people, but they are not even sure whom to hire. Should they hire a nutritionist, a chemist, engineer?  A Chef?? Why is it so hard to figure out these answers they wonder..

The reason why- is because—believe it or not- start up companies are not easy to work with because they usually don’t have any money, they don’t understand anything about the food industry and they are just not worth the time needed by co packers, ingredient suppliers and manufacturers. They would much rather someone like Kraft or Nestle come knocking on their door – not Joe’s Jumpin’ Trail Mix from Sonoma County.

And so my book TEACHES the layperson what they need to know to get started. I provide links to the important trade shows- and I explain the basics of food safety and shelf stability and what is HACCP all about. The reader will leave with a solid understanding of the rules surrounding their product category so when they do leave a voicemail for that co-packer – they may even get a call back- if they look and sound like they know what they are doing.

So if you are food scientist reading this post- then this book is not for you-unless you were asleep during food microbiology or didn’t attend Better Processing Schoo-but I bet you know someone who has a food dream but none of the inside exclusive food science knowledge to make it happen. Tell them about my book!

Now you are thinking– how can I trust Rachel Zemser? AKA the Intrepid Culinologist? Does she really know her stuff?

Read my biography– I have 3 degrees, 18 years experience, many publications and lots of recommendations on Linked In. And if you think the book is not helpful- I will give you a refund.