From restaurant to wholesale: Part 2

Determining the number of servings and what else to consider when you select a package, case and minimum order to maximize your sales.

Selling your restaurant product wholesale can increase your sale beyond walk-in traffic. Before you take the leap, there are several important steps to consider. Part 1 of this series was a guide to selecting the following: a wholesale product, the market form, the production time and wholesale avenues. Part 1 concluded with the step of contacting the County Health Department Inspector to determine food safety concerns and the related processing rules and regulations for the product(s) you selected. Part 2 will guide you through deciding upon number of servings, what package to use, when a case is needed and considering a minimum order.

The wholesaling channel will determine the number of servings or net quantity of the product that you will sell. Is your wholesaling channel selling to an individual consumer or to a food service such as a hospital, school or even another restaurant? It is possible that more than one target customer will be chosen and, if so, the number of servings, package and labeling will vary accordingly. Once the target consumer has been determined, you can check the industry standard for serving sizes for that type of product and observe the number of servings usually contained in such a product for that wholesale channel. For example, if your product is salsa, the quantity that you would most likely package and sell for an individual to purchase is 16 oz., whereas a food service size would be 64 oz.

Packaging the product based on your target consumer will help you identity the proper packaging for maximum shelf-life and customer convenience. A glass or plastic jar of salsa would serve the needs for an individual or household, whereas a restaurant or other food service may need the salsa in a large plastic pourable container or perhaps a commercial plastic bag. Once your package is selected, be sure to follow the MDARD labeling guidelines for labeling your product.

After determining the package for your target market and the legal labeling requirements, decide upon pack size. Again this will be based on the customers that you are serving and the number of packages they will use in a set period of time. Cases are usually 6 or 12 products per case. Your pricing for the case, versus the individual packages, will be set to encourage customers to increase purchasing and reduce delivery frequency.

Selling product in a case enhances your ability to determine reasonable minimum orders. Whether it is a wholesale location that sells to individuals or a restaurant that purchases large quantities for restaurant use, a minimum order will need to be determined and set to make the wholesale outlet worth your time, energy and cost for distribution.

The MSU Product Center, in partnership with Michigan State University Extension, provides free business counseling for product development, package selection and marketing strategies that will help Michigan entrepreneurs commercialize high-value, consumer–responsive food products. For more information, visit the MSU Product Center website or call 517-432-8750.

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