Contributed by: Nicole Vilegi-Sandage, Marketing Coordinator
Fresca Foods’ Co-Founder and proclaimed Culinary Genius by everyone who works with him, Van Hallowell, has been an innovator in the food industry for over 35 years. With experience working with companies of all sizes, his expertise ranges from creative bench-top formulas to packaging innovation and commercial scale-ups. Van offers his thoughts on three of the most important product development factors to consider when launching a new product or line extension.
1. Raw Materials
To build a thriving brand, it is critical to secure a stable and scalable supply chain. This requires reaching out to multiple vendors, comparing pricing structures and ingredient availability. If only one supplier is able to provide one of your raw materials, this is likely an indication of supply challenges and a potential red flag for future and consistent availability. In addition, if you are dealing with any commodities, Van recommends having a solid understanding of their availability and price fluctuations by gathering data and trends over the past five years.
2. Ease of Manufacturing
If you are launching a brand new product or considering a line extension, in addition to gathering data on raw materials, you should also know precisely how much capital is required for every equipment option. This, coupled with a simplified, less technical process will ensure minimal capital investment on the front end and more resources to spend on sales and marketing. In addition, it will give you more flexibility in choosing a manufacturer, and greater ease in scaling your brand. Van’s motto: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify.
Consider working with flexible packaging/film vendors that match your company’s volume needs. If you are a small brand in a handful of Whole Foods Market Regions, you shouldn’t use the same film/package vendor as, say, General Mills. The reason for this is that larger vendors tend to have bigger volume requirements. Similarly, going with “stock” packaging early in the brand’s life cycle can reduce upfront capital requirement to get your brand off the ground. It also will allow you to test and refine your product before making a huge investment in customized packaging.
The overall size and shape is an essential factor in packaging as well. When launching a new product, the last thing you want to do is annoy Grocery Buyers when they try to squeeze your 12″ package on a 10″ high shelf.
NewHope360.com has some great tips on packaging in Daniel Lohman’s blog post, “Packaging that Will Get a Product Purchased.”