Chefs like Eméril and Paula Deen are now the faces of branded retail chef products. Wolfgang Puck has his name on dish sets as well, and Taco Bell co-Branded with Doritos to make the popular Doritos-flavored taco shells. For budding chefs, who have yet to make a name for themselves, chef products will not succeed based on name alone. But, in regards to restaurant brands, is it worth it for more modest businesses to pursue branded retail food product lines? The answer depends on the business’s goals, interests, and funds or investors.
Going Big in Food Branding
Selling branded retail food products in supermarkets is not as simple as it sounds. Businesses will need to make sure they have all the proper licenses for operating a food manufacturing business, as well as ensure they are aware of all the food safety regulations related to preparing and packaging retail food. Though homemade food such as artisan bread and homemade sauces are great additions to a restaurant, restaurant brands of retail food will be subject to a lot more regulation and requirements. In addition, supermarkets will usually only buy from suppliers that have the ability to keep up with their demand. This means that a business must be prepared to invest in equipment to facilitate large quantities of production. For some restaurant brands, projecting an appearance of offering homemade food is extremely important. However, even retail food marketed as homemade sauces or artisan bread will not really be able to show off the culinary skills of the chef, as it will have to be prepared in an industrialized setting if sold to supermarkets. An upside to food branding for restaurants (besides the profit opportunities), though, is that the entire restaurant bakery, for example, can be transferred to the retail food production location, while still being prepared as artisan bread. Despite the many obstacles to success in food branding, great rewards can be had for those who succeed. For those who are less confident about breaking into the retail food field, other alternatives exist.
Alternatives for the Less Daring
Less risky food branding options for venues interested in creating restaurant brands and showing off their staff’s culinary skills include selling homemade food in-house. Artisan bread, homemade sauces, jarred jams, liquors, juices, desserts, and flavored oils are just a few of the products that can easily be prepared during off-peak hours and displayed for sale on shelving at the entrance of a venue. The low-key sale of such homemade chef products make them exempt from many of the regulations of food manufacturing. Another option for developing chef products and restaurant brands, while marketing a restaurant locally, is to sell at local farmer’s markets and artisan foods stores. The lower demand sales channels, compared to supermarkets, allow restaurant brands to develop without requiring high investment and allow the restaurant itself to continue to run smoothly at the same time.
Food branding can be a great way to expand a business and get the word out about a venue. Restaurant brands, when sold locally, can expose the local public to the venue (even those who do not usually dine out). Research is extremely important before deciding to start restaurant brands, as there are many laws and regulations which apply. For businesses looking to start large restaurant brands, while not necessarily concerned with projecting an image of artisan foods and culinary skills, finding investors and planning a marketing strategy can help get the food branding started. For those not looking to go into the large-scale retail food business, selling to local stores offering artisan foods, or even selling in-house, can show off the culinary skills of cooks and chefs, while increasing profits. Food branding is not the right move for every business, but for those who chose to pursue it the right way, increases in profits and reputation can make it well worth the investment.