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Farmer's Market-Selling Baked Breads, Soups, Spreads and Baked Goods

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Good Afternoon Chef Talk Community,

 I'm considering opening up a table at the local farmer's market next Saturday for being unemployeed (for about a month now). I want to make decision's for this tiny enterprise that support local farmers, sensitive to diabetics, and add a good title to the resume. My problem is I don't know the first dam thing about making a business especially when it comes to farmers markets. My question is-what have you learned from experience working in these types of situations? All answers welcome! :D Thanks!

post #2 of 13
  • Where are you located?
  • Do you have a Food Safety Manager certification?
  • Do you have a business license?
  • Have you met with the management of the Farmer's Market and know their rules?
  • Do you have access to a commercial kitchen?
  • Do you have a health permit?
  • Do you have a resellers permit (not sure you need one)
  • Most food booths have to be screened to eliminate insects sand vermin and you will probably need a hand washing station
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

  • Where are you located?
  • Do you have a Food Safety Manager certification?
  • Do you have a business license?
  • Have you met with the management of the Farmer's Market and know their rules?
  • Do you have access to a commercial kitchen?
  • Do you have a health permit?
  • Do you have a resellers permit (not sure you need one)
  • Most food booths have to be screened to eliminate insects sand vermin and you will probably need a hand washing station


I am located in The Pas, MB where I was raised. I have a certificate in safe food handling level one. I do not own a business liscense however I am deciding whether or not to take business admin. I am currently out of town for a few more days until I can contact the farmers market management. I do not have access to a commercial kitchen, perhaps the college will do, I'm not sure until I ask my previous instructor. I will certainly be inquring about the health permit as it might seem nessicary. The market is outdoors so I'm a bit confused on how to set up a clean hand washing station (perhaps the butcher next door lends his hand washing sink).
 

 

post #4 of 13

OK, I'll step aside now crazy.gif, I'm somewhat familiar with the requirements a little bit SW of you but not north of international borders

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

ah well thats fine. you've reminded me of foo safety, that's important too! lol

post #6 of 13

Coconut, don't jump into this too quickly.

 

There are three sets of rules you have to be aware of, and regulations that have to be met.

 

1. Business regulations imposed by the locality.

2. Health and safty regulations imposed by the local health authority.

3. Rules established by the market, itself, in terms of what can be sold. These are usually quite stringent when it comes to value-added products, especially if the market is a growers-only type.

 

One other thing: You don't just show up at a farmer's market and open a booth. You have to be a member. And, at most of them, in addition to annual dues and market fees there's an inspection you have to go through.

 

Make sure you understand all these rules and regulations, and are confident you can be in complience, before starting up.

 

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Alrighty. I've been doing some talking and I might have accsess to a commercial kitchen depending on when I talk to my former instructor from Culinary School. I'm spending time getting organized, studying pricing food right now, and was wondering what should be the goal for food cost percentage?

post #8 of 13

IMHO, FORGET FOOD COST PERCENTAGE!

 

Add food cost (in $), overhead ) plus travel, insurance, rent, licenses, taxes, and any other cash expenses plus what YOU want for the day's work. Find out what the market is willing to pay for what you are making/selling, divide that into the above total, and you will know how many you have to sell to BREAKEVEN.

 

Your kitchen rental and booth rental are "fixed quantities", food cost is a variable.

 

To illustrate, say:

  • Kitchen rental = $50/day
  • Booth rental = $25/day
  • Food Cost = $1.00/loaf
  • Your desired day's return = $200 (insert your own figures)

 

Your breakeven cost per loaf, based on the number of loaves sold per day is ($50+$25+200+n)/n where n = the number of loaves SOLD, so, if you sell:

  • 1, your cost is $276/loaf, and your food cost percentage is 0.3%
  • 10, your cost is $28.50, and your food cost percentage is 3.5%
  • 100, your cost is $3.75, and your food cost percentage is 26.67%
  • 1000, your cost is $1.275, and your food cost percentage is 78.43%

 

IF the market price is $3.75 AND your cost of food is $1.00 AND you are happy making $200/day AND you can sell 100 loaves, THEN a food cost percentage of 26.67% is pretty good.

 

IF your cost of food is $1.00 per loaf AND you set your price at $3.33 ($1.00/30%) and you make 100 loaves and sell only 75 loaves because the market price is $3.20, your estimated food cost  percentage (30%) is WRONG, because your actual food cost ($100) divided by actual sales ($3.33x75=$249.75) results in an actual food cost percentage of 40% and you are losing money!

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
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post #9 of 13

The two most important people to speak with is your local health department and those who run the farmer's market.  The health department will tell you what you need to do to be in compliance with them.  What kinds of food will you be selling?  If doing things like soup are you serving them hot or selling a frozen product?  It will make a difference if you are actually cooking or reheating on site as opposed to just selling, but again your local health official will be able to tell you that.  Those who run the farmer's market will be able to answer most of your other questions.  They will tell you if you meet their rules and guidelines (many markets require you to commit to at least a number of weeks if not the whole season).  They should also be able to tell you if you need any kind of business or reseller's permits to participate.  I know in many areas there are different rules for "cottage industries" that don't make a lot of money and you may be exempt from having to apply for these.  Most good farmer's markets will know what these rules are and be able to give, at least, a bit of guidence.

http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #10 of 13

It sounds to me that in addition to researching all the regulatory issues, you need to also research from a marketing perspective. We sell our products in many farmers markets around the NY Metro area and see lots of people such as you come and go.

 

First, farmers markets are really about farmers and promoting sustainable, local agriculture. You must keep this in mind when deciding what kinds of products you want to offer. That will also determine how you approach the farmers market board with your idea. If you just want to go to your grocery store and whip up some baked goods and soups to offer, I doubt you'll get very far with them. You need to be able to succinctly communicate how your product line supports the overall mission of that particular market. 

 

Second, you need to come up with a product idea that is unique and not widely available in your region's grocery stores, restaurants and markets. 

 

Third, limit your offerings so you can create a brand identity for yourself. We sell at markets where one vendor constantly gripes about how she never really makes much money after her costs, but one week she shows up with pickles, baked goods & salad dressings, then the next week it'f fresh mozzarella, french bread and flavored olive oil, then the following week it's pickles and marinara sauce and who knows what else. It's all about developing a following. If no one can predict what you're going to have, no one will bother to stop by your booth. 

 

Fourth, you need to invest some money into presentation of your product. Your signage needs to look interesting and eye-catching in addition to being clear and understandable. Your packaging should also reflect your message and identity. Think carefully about how you will package your product. Promoting sustainability through your packaging is also a real plus with market boards. 

 

There are many more things you should think about before you venture into the farmers market world as a plan to earn a living, but one that is most important is whether you really like going to farmers markets and having lots of face time with people who shop there and other vendors. If talking to lots of people who are fussy about their diets, ingredients, organics and vegetarianism gets on your nerves, look for something else to do. If you are uncomfortable talking to strangers and initiating conversations with them, you will not do well in the fm arena. You must project an open, engaging, approachable and friendly demeanor. Never sit in a chair behind your booth waiting for customers to come to you. Stand there, give samples and be able to answer lots of questions about ingredients, calorie counts and nutrition.

 

My best advice is to visit lots of markets and familiarize yourself with the products offered there. Some markets are better than others. Find a way to fill an empty niche at the markets to choose to join. Talk to the vendors and ask what niche they think should be filled.

 

Lastly, it's unlikely you'll make much money at one market alone. We do ten per week, plus our shop during the busy season and only in this way can we truly support ourselves. Given the right approach, you can do well here but you must be ready  and willing to become part of a FM community and culture. 

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

 Foodnfoto please note I am not exactly like the person who come's and go's. I will give this farmer's market 110% even if I do fail I'll gain more experience.

post #12 of 13

Coconut-

I am not suggesting in any way that you would NOT give 110%. I was just attempting to offer some useful advice as to how to be successful in the farm market arena. You were not particularly specific about what you were planning to offer at the market which led me to conclude that you had not fully developed your idea. I was hoping that my advice could lead you in that direction as we've been vendors at farmers markets for four years now and have a devoted following.

 

If you have any other specific questions, don't hesitate to ask.

 

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

My apologies Foodnfoto,

 I was a tad confused for a moment. I will definately keep you in mind as for wehn I have questions about farmers market.

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