Taking Your Food Product Idea from Dream to Shelf, Step by Step

Perhaps you were the kid who came to school on invention day with the most inventive product in the class, or the college student whose lunches looked like five-star dining next to your roommate’s ramen noodles. Now, as an adult, you have an idea for a food or beverage product that you know people will buy – but you aren’t sure how to get it from point A (idea) to point B (in the cart) or how food startup consulting can help.

You’re not alone. The food industry is complicated, and while you might be able to navigate from idea to packaging with relatively few barriers, getting your product on the shelves of grocers and in the carts (and hearts) of consumers can be more challenging. In this article, we’ll walk you through the most crucial steps for launching a successful product.


The first step is determining whether there is a demand for your product, and it absolutely must come before any other step or you risk spending time and money on a product that isn’t likely to succeed. This involves several steps:

  • Evaluate your target market
  • Finding a position within that market for your brand that both speaks to that audience and isn’t already fulfilled or crowded
  • Develop packaging mock-ups (with help from a third party in most cases) that speak to your target audience
  • Get buy-in from actual retailers and provide them with an opportunity to pre-order


If your product is validated by retailers, it’s time to refine your product so you can package it. This usually requires consulting with food scientists to ensure ingredients are shelf-stable and meet requirements for any labels you’re hoping to use, like organic, vegan, or, gluten-free.

Regulations & Certifications

Although many of these steps need to happen concurrently and not in a specific one-after-another order, meeting regulatory requirements is also an important step in the process – even if you aren’t aiming to produce a certified product. You’ll need to understand which rules and regulations apply to your product as well as what steps are needed to gain approval.


You need to build your brand – one of the most exciting steps in the process! This includes logo development, social media account creation, establishing a ‘voice’ for your company or product, and designing a website. Packaging is refined and finalized in this step, too.


Next, explore potential partners for manufacturing and packaging. It’s important to build a business case comparing at least two potential partners (but preferably more) to ensure you find a partner who will carry your vision of quality through to the finished product and communicate well with you throughout the process.


If you need financing to get started, now is a good time to secure funding so you can support manufacturing efforts. In many cases, grants are available to help you get started. As a part of this work, it will be important to forecast sales so you can manufacture exactly what you need when you need it, ensuring adequate cash flow and reducing risk.


Finally – the light at the end of the tunnel! You’ll find the right retailers for your product and get it on their shelves and in the kitchens of your consumers. Even with step-by-step instructions, it can feel overwhelming and is more challenging without industry experience and relationships. At the greater goods, we provide start-to-finish food startup consulting. We walk you through this process and do the leg work, leveraging our expertise and connections in the industry, to make sure your product succeeds once it’s validated. Visit us to get started.

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