Specialty Food Magazine

FALL 2018

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Mark Hamstra is a regular contributor to Speciality Food Magazine and Specialty Food News. The most important attribute a startup food company needs is the ability to solve a problem or meet a pressing need, said Jackie Miller, director of Chobani Incubator. Miller led the panel discussion, which featured input from other members of the Chobani management team and the co- founder of Banza, one of the first companies that joined Chobani Incubator. Key takeaways include: 1. Consistently high quality is the best marketing. John Levy, director of platform marketing for Chobani, said makers need to ensure they are producing their product in a manner that yields optimum results in every batch, so that anyone who tastes it will become an ambassador for the product. "You are only as good as the food you sell," he said. 2. Sample, sample, sample. Brian Rudolph, who co-founded chickpea-based pasta company Banza with his brother, Scott, said his company reaped tremendous benefits from sampling the product at farmers markets and espe- cially from conducting demonstrations at retail. "It's a great way to get the word out, and get feedback," he said. 3. Get your broker on board. Companies need to select the right broker who has the qualities and connections that meet their needs, but they also need to make sure the broker buys into the product with enthusiasm. "You have to get your broker excited about your product," said Rudolph. "You have to sell them on your product just like you sell any other cus- tomers. Just because they are working for you doesn't mean that's where it ends." 4. Adjust the product size to meet your price point. Companies should consider tweaking the product weight or size to be price competitive. "You don't want to be twice the price of the competition," said Levy. "You have to look at it from a market basis, and you have to look at it from a cost of goods sold basis, and use size and weight to your advantage to help equalize that game." 5. Be relevant to retailers. Makers can conduct consumer surveys online at a relatively low cost that can focus on the customers of specific retailers, and take those results when they pitch their products. "You don't need thousands of dollars," said Levy. "When you go to a buyer, you can tell them some insights about their customer and how they feel about your product." 6. Consider innovation through alternative product for mats. If a category becomes cluttered with me-too products, one way to continue to differentiate is by revamping the format of the product to meet a consumer need. "What would make it easier for your custom- ers to use your product, and use it more often?" said Levy. "How do you make it fit in their lives in an innovative way?" "What would make it easier for your customers to use your product, and use it more often? How do you make it fit in their lives in an innovative way?" article bug FALL 2018 79 PHOTO: AMBIKA SINGH FOR LOOP SEVEN PHOTO: CHOBANI

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