retail sales

anybody out there sell any of there sauces or dressings at local grocery stores. thinking about maybe looking in to this. we already sell plenty of our house dressings to go in 16oz styrofoam cups but was thinking about reatail. honestly not sure how to even start such a process. any info would be greatly appreciated

I hate to be the one bringing the news, but you may not be able to do this, unless you are prepared to jump through a bunch of hoops, legal ones. You will probably need to come under FDA regulations and if there is any meat in the sauce, add to that USDA. Then there are all the food sanitation issues that need to be addressed as well as HASSP programs. The easiest to address would be the labeling. The best way to get around this is to contact a co-packer that can manufacture your line of sauces and make them available for you to market.
Places to get more information are:
USDA.gov
FDA.gov
and your local SBA representative.
Your city/county/state health department should also be able to provide some insight too.
There are some small exemptions, but you will need to talk to someone (probably at your SBA) to see if you will qualify.
Lastly, you will also want to discuss this with your insurance agent as you will most likely require a different coverage.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

Thank tom that was insightful. Has anyone out there junped through these hoops. It seems like it could be a huge marketing tool. Many customers come in and ask for our dressings to go and it seems like there may be a market for it here.

if people are coming in an asking for it why not simply sell it over the counter just like you do now (maybe get something more robust than the styrofoam cups?). Going from ‘people ask for it’ to selling it as a product in the grocery store is a very big step and of course you’ll not make much from selling it to the grocery store (even if they are interested in taking it)?

Seems a great way to get people in your store rather than getting them to go to the grocery store?

Not many have jumped through the hoops, but many have successfully gone the co-packer route, such as Girl Scout cookies, a lot of the BBQ Sauces are co-packed, as are many store brands such as Top Fresh (Chicago area). There are even a lot of co-packed pizzas being made, so many that there is a very strong co-packing industry just for pizza.
Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with selling the product from your store, the problem and legalities begin when you sell the product from a remote location. For example, if I have a question about your sauce, and I’m buying it at your store, I can always ask you my question (such as "Does this product cantain any soy product?) and I should be able to get an answer before purchasing the product. Now, lets go to the local supermarket to buy the same product. Same question, but who do I ask? Answer, I must depend upon the required ingredient deck (statement of ingredients) for the answer. The law may also dictate what you call your product or how it is actually labeled, for example, Acme Fresh Tomato Sauce may not be an acceptable name if the product is made from tomato concentrate. The Food safety and HASSP issues are there because once your product goes on a supermarket shelf, many more consumers can be exposed to it, hence, if there is a food safety issue, the potenital for a major food safety crisis is much greater than it would be if they could buy it only at your store. Just look at what happened at PCA (Peanut Corporation of America).
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

To compete at the retail level you need to give away much of your margin to the retailers and spend considerable $$s on marketing, packaging, labels, etc…So at the end of the day you do many times more volume and may not end up with the same amount of profit as a smaller amount of sales at your own location…Plus major manufacturers buy space on shelves that smaller producers can not afford…You might be able to get into a few local markets, however, the chains will be a considerable challenge.

But if you have a good product, work on improving the packaging and labeling…Make a few wall posters to display at your location…Set-up a nice looking display cooler at a very visible location in your store…Tent cards for your tables…A little ad on your menus…A good product alone is not enough, it will take marketing to maximize sales…

Perhaps find a local farmer’s market…In some instances selling a farmer’s market does not have as many regulatory hurdles as selling wholesale…This will require further research…

Good luck…

wow thanks guys you are an incredible source of information. for the time being i will look in to some signage and better, more product specific packaging.