September 24, 2020

I get this questions ALL the time, especially now. In fact, I am probably talking with more people interested in starting their packaged food business BECAUSE of COVID. 

More people just like you are wondering what you are waiting for to start your dream, a pandemic? 

I went to some farmers markets last weekend and I just had to share what I saw (hint: a ton of new producers) and give you my expert opinion on whether NOW is a good time to start your business. 
If you want more help turning your delicious dream into a real, profitable food business, apply for to see if it is a good fit for you. 


I'm Sari Kimbell and I've done just about everything in the food industry. I have helped hundreds of packaged food business entrepreneurs. And now I want to help you make your delicious dream a reality. Whether you want to be successful at farmer's markets, online, or wholesale on the store shelves, Food Business Success is your secret ingredient. I will show you how to avoid an expensive hobby, and instead run a profitable food business. Now let's jump.

Hey there, welcome to this bonus podcast. I hope you guys are gonna laugh. But it's Sunday morning. I haven't even had my coffee. But I woke up this morning and I was thinking about my experience yesterday at the farmers market. I want to tell you about it. And I want to answer help answer this question that I get a lot from people. I definitely want to do- this has definitely been a podcast topic that I wanted to do a more formal one and really give you some data and high level and in nitty gritty things to consider. But this podcast is a bonus because the schedule is already pretty full. I really just woke up and was like, I really need to tell these guys what I'm thinking. And what I have been seeing out there. And I'm going to squeeze it in as a bonus episode. It is now, right now it's September 2020. We are in COVID still. Who knows what the future holds? Uncertainty is the new certainty. So is now a good time to start your packaged food business? So some of you guys know that I actually own a farmers market called the Winter Farmers Market. It's in Fort Collins, Colorado. I've been involved with the market for I think four years. And so this or this will be year five. I am, this is my second year owning the market as the owner and not just being paid to help run it. And so now I have a lot more responsibility for success. And, you know, last year was the first year and then of course, we had COVID. And this is a unique market and that it's inside. It's during the winter time. It's the only market- farmers market- in Colorado that is like that. So in case, I went around yesterday to a couple of farmers markets where I live in Denver, and I was doing some recruiting. I just wanted to let people know, you know, vendors know, say hello and introduce myself and let them know about this market. Because I think that there's a lot of potential to get new vendors up, new producers, people who've never heard of this market.

That's how I spent my morning yesterday. And you know, it just really struck me going to two farmers markets. One was very well established. I knew some of the vendors already, or I've seen their brands out and about and at farmer's markets. And then the other one was a brand new market and a lot of brand new producers. So it really, this is kind of what got me thinking about like, Hey, I gotta get this podcast recorded and talk to you guys about what I'm seeing out there. So let me just talk about it first from kind of a high level, you know, 60,000 feet up. We know that in general, let's not even think about let's take COVID out of it for now.

In general it is access to starting a packaged food business, the barriers are lower than ever. Whether it's through cottage food act so you can start in your home kitchen, many states have a cottage food act, although not all. This is so you can sell direct to consumers. It's a great way to test your product if it falls into that product categories that they allow. It's a great way to test product, get feedback, figure out your pricing, kind of take that baby test, put your baby toe into the water, take that first step in. But even if you want to go bigger than that, the gate or you can't do cottage food the fact that we have commercial kitchens that are available for rent, get better commissary kitchens.

And even with COVID honestly there are some really interesting opportunities where I'm seeing producers going into nightclubs for instance that have a kitchen that are closed right now, and able to rent that space as a way to get started. So some interesting things happening. But I will just say that I do think that the barriers both financially and logistically are so much lower than they have been in the past to actually start this kind of packaged food business. And, again, relatively speaking, the, you do have to make some financial investment,

You know, in the dollar amount per cottage food business is certainly far less than then going all in. If you need some products need, you know, food science, R&D help, some products are going to need specialized equipment, you may want to use a co-packer, but even that, like we have so much access to these things. So in general, I think, you know, we're just at a time in our history where this is very possible for most product types to start that business. Then let's bring it back to our current time, let's add COVID back into the equation. People want transparency. They want access. They want to support local producers. They are eating more at home than ever. Packaged food, food in general is not going away. It just is shifting what it looks like. We went from, I think it's 58% of our food dollars pre COVID were spent outside of the home. And then when obviously when we sheltered in place that radically went from, you know, 58% to like, maybe 10, you know, getting some takeout if you were even comfortable with that. So we radically shift our spending of our dollars to package food. And it doesn't mean that everybody loves to cook all of a sudden. And even if you do love to cook, like the fact that you're at home cooking all the time. I mean, think about my sister-in-law, and she's just like, what am I a restaurant?

You know, I mean, it's like making food, cooking, cleaning up food, cleaning up, starting over like two hours later, you're doing it all over again, when you feed teenagers. So I mean, people are looking for solutions. And they are more willing than ever to purchase online. We definitely saw, obviously during COVID, dollars shifting around being willing to buy food, all of a sudden, we had to buy food online. And that doesn't mean that everybody's going to go to your individual website page. Like we need to be strategic about that. And there's lots of ways to reach people online. But the very fact that we can now reach people online, and they are willing to open up their wallets and receive that product through the mail, or through delivery is a really good thing for the food industry. So then I want to talk kind of more like drill down, like really get tight and go to the, you know, thousand foot level. So let me tell you what I saw yesterday. So I went to this market that actually was started by a restaurant. They closed down their street and put outdoor dining out there. And they decided on Saturday mornings to open up to be a farmer's market. Which I thought was really interesting in and of itself. And I guess the reason for this is because they're kind of a local, well known foodie, Chef place chef hang out. And a lot of chefs during COVID were at home while restaurants were closed. And they were thinking like what can I be doing with my time right now? And so as I met people and introduced myself, it was so interesting to meet, probably eight of the people I talked to, they were a month in, two months in, three months in. Right? They like we're in their home kitchen during COVID thinking like hey, I make this amazing... So one of the guys he makes us amazing jardiniere sauce or condiment and people kept asking him about it. Or a kimchi. I met you know, talked with Virgil, and his kimchi product. Or a gentleman who makes chocolate and he's in doing cottage food. So it's so interesting that like, during this time when things got shut down that this kind of imagination and possibility opened up for people and they were like, hey, what else can I be doing? I want to package this this product that I make or this this thing that I am really passionate about and see if I can make a go of it. So kudos to all of them, honestly. I mean, yes, some of them had been in the food industry or you know, in the restaurant industry, but it is a completely there are some things that help with like the production side when you understand the restaurant industry. But other than that, this is totally new territory for them. When you put something into a package. Other than scaling up a recipe, like, you know, FDA labels, and pricing can be really different. And so there are a lot of new things that they're having to figure out. But again, not everybody was a chef. And so it was really cool, just to see the excitement and the passion and the willingness for people to try this and to put themselves out there at this market and bring their products to market and invest. And I think that that's something really beautiful that we do see when during times of big change. Is that and maybe this is you right? Like that you're like, hey, what am I waiting for?

Like, I have this dream, I have been thinking about making my granola for people, everybody wants my granola, everybody asked me for it. I've been making my kimchi for friends and family, I've been making this sauce.

And whatever it is like you have a dream inside of you, you have something that I believe that if you are even thinking about doing this, if you are considering like dreaming about it, considering the possibility of it, there is a way to do it, and your heart wants to do it. And yes, I know you're gonna get scared, and you're gonna think this is a terrible time. But what I'm actually finding is, so many people are going to Food Business Success and applying. And we're having that, I get on a 30 minute call. And we're having that conversation. And it's like, they just have something in their heart. Like they are their destiny is in their desire. I really believe that. And I'm here to help them with the how, and give them all the tools and the structure and insight and knowledge. But you got to start with your dream and what's going to actually get you to taking action. And next week, actually, the podcast is about having a hard why. So I'm not going to go into that too much today. But I think that is so so important. So be sure to listen to next week's podcast about your hard why.

So I guess to bring it back, is this a good time to start a packaged food business? My answer is yes. Like it's actually a hell yes. That is my professional opinion as a food industry expert, that there are so many things on your side, if your desire is strong enough, if you have that hard, why. I'm not gonna say it's gonna be easy. And not every product is, you know, in the perfect category right now. But that will shift. So really, I mean, is there ever a perfect time? I guess? I don't have kids. But if you do have kids, I would like in it or like if you're married, like, Are you ever Sure? Is there ever really a perfect time to have kids? No, you just decide. And then you do it. Right? And you don't know the how. You don't know how you're going to have, you know, a 10 year marriage a 20 year marriage, like, you just kind of jump in, you don't know how the parenting is going to go. You're just like, okay, we're doing this. And you know, we'll figure it out as we go. So that's kind of the attitude that I would suggest you take like, if you have a dream and you're like, Yes, I want to do this. I have to do this. My heart is telling me I like I am guided to do this. This is part of my life path. Then I say commit, go all in. Build up courage, because that's what you're going to need after you commit and then go find some help. Don't do this on your own. And that's where Food Business Success comes in. Of course, that's exactly why I'm here to help you with that how to make things easier, less expensive. I do I help you make it cheaper and easier and faster. That's what I'm here for. But I say now is the time because what are you waiting for? A pandemic? I mean, come on, right? Like how long are you going to put your dream on hold. So please, if now if you're like inspired, you're like, Yes, I want to do this, go to and fill out the application and let's jump on a call. And we can talk about if your product is in the right category. And what to expect as a financial investment. I want you to head over to either the Food Business Success Instagram channel or the Food Business Success YouTube page. I've been doing a live with food founders since May, early May, I started talking with clients of mine- people I've worked with either currently or previously, and was just doing check ins with them. You know, how are you doing? How's your business? How have you pivoted? And there's so many great conversations that we've had over these months. I encourage you to go either to the Instagram page, or to go to the YouTube the Food Business Success YouTube channel, and go back and listen to those interviews with food founders. I mean, there you are going to get inspired. I will tell you that much. I mean, my conversations with Erica and with Alli, and Juan with Green Belly and in the conversations with Erica, who's growing her bakery business, pivoting from food service into doing home deliveries and creating a marketplace. I will definitely make sure that link for my conversation with Erica, we actually had, I think that was more of a webinar format. So I'll put the link to that in the show notes. But go watch those interviews, those live with food founders. When I talked to Juan about when he started his hot sauce business with no money, he borrowed $1,000 for labels and started going to the farmers market. Listen to Alli's story with Sweet Logic and how they started, you know, just a year and a half ago. And now they have become a huge brand on Amazon. And there's so many more great stories on there. I, like, those weekly calls. And those chat check-ins have been fantastic. And I think you're gonna get really inspired. This coming week, we're going to be talking to Virgil with Cream, Cream Kimchi, and you know from going from cottage food, opening during COVID. And now he cannot keep up with production. People are just

so excited to support his amazing product. So go get inspired. Decide if you're willing to commit and then you need courage. Go to and apply. And then let's get on a call and let's talk but yes, I give it a hell yes. But now is a great time to start your packaged food business. All right, I hope you enjoyed this episode. Like I said, I'd love to come back and do a more scripted, scripted version, but I just had to get this out this morning. And now I'm going to go make my delicious local coffee and enjoy the rest of my Sunday

morning. I hope you have a fantastic week.

Are you ready to start that delicious idea that you make in your home kitchen or grow your existing packaged food business and take it to the next level? The most successful food business entrepreneurs have support, guidance, focus and accountability to help them make it happen quickly without wasting time or money. Plus, I think starting your packaged food business should actually be fun. Food Business Success is your secret ingredient to creating your food business dream. Please don't go this alone. Check out the private free Food Business Success Facebook group to connect with other foodprenuers, get your questions answered quickly, share your wins and receive special training and tools I only share inside the private community. Just search for Food Business Success on Facebook, or get the link in the show notes. Curious about how food business success can help you? Head over to and fill out the application to see if you're a great fit for the program. Together let's make your food business dream a reality.

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