Starting a food business is tough. If you plan on selling your food product to anyone aside from friends, there are a number of hoops you’ll have to jump through:
- Creating a business entity
- Finding an appropriate production kitchen and obtaining the proper licenses
- Following labeling rules.
That’s on top of creating a killer product that people love, understanding distribution, pricing, and marketing.
So, first off is a quick list of what MUST be included on your label:
- Statement of identity. The name of the product.
- Net quantity statement. How much is in the package.
- Name and address of the manufacturer (or packer or distributor).
- Ingredient list in descending weight order.
- Allergy labeling, if any allergens are present.
- Nutrition fact label. This is sometimes optional.
There’s more to it than this short list, and we cover most of the nuance in a post on our blog. There are rules about font sizes, placement, and of course when you need to include nutrition fact labels and what style label to use.
The trend we’ve seen from our own customers ReciPal is that despite not necessarily being large enough companies to be required to have nutrition fact labels, more and more companies are choosing to include them for a few reasons:
- Simple transparency with customers
- They are making healthier products and want to “prove” it via nutrition data
- Doing it earlier to avoid having to deal with it when things inevitably get crazier
There are a few other things to keep in mind about labeling and packaging. Your packaging is the first thing that customers will see and, for better or worse, drives a lot of their decision making and purchases.
It’s really something you want to invest in, arguably more than anything else. There are some truly great packaging designers out there, so search the web and your own network, and expect to spend a lot of time working together to get it right. You’ll have to think about shape, materials, colors, and probably want to test it with customers at markets for feedback. Can they tell the difference between flavors, can they tell what the product is, is it appealing? These are things you rarely notice until you put it in front of a random potential customer (or 100).
Lastly, there’s packaging cost. There is always a tradeoff between cost savings and flexibility. Early on, you’ll probably prefer flexibility in case you want to make changes to your packaging and don’t have the steady demand to justify capital investment. Later, you’ll want to buy thousands of bags and labels at a time - once you’re not making packaging changes and have more steady and greater demand. If you have sticker labels, maybe it will even make financial sense to have everything labeled off-site at a packaging facility.
Lev Berlin is the Founder and CEO of ReciPal. ReciPal was created to simplify the lives of food businesses with easy nutrition analysis, nutrition fact labels, ingredient lists, recipe costing, and recipe management. Recipal works with food startups, established food businesses, commercial kitchens, food business consultants, co-packers, food trucks, store fronts, students, you name it. Before starting Recipal, Lev was a consultant at Oliver Wyman. He was born in Riga, Latvia, graduated from Princeton University and now lives in New York City.
Follow Lev on Twitter.