Niche businesses often do well because the internet makes it easy to find customers from outside of the local geographic area. Specialty food products are a good example of how successful small makers can be. Cheese is always a popular product, so there is usually a strong demand for tasty specialty cheese produced by artisan makers.
If you have plans to create a specialty cheese-making business at home, here’s how to get started.
Understand the Process
It is important to understand the cheese-making process. Cheese making is a very traditional art and people have been making cheese for hundreds of years. There is plenty of scope to tweak the basic process by adding new ingredients and flavorings, but you must understand each stage of the process, from stirring in the starter cultures to ripening the cheese. Get to grips with the science of making cheese, so you can avoid any surprises.
Develop a Unique Recipe
To stand out at food fairs and in artisan food stores, you need to have a unique recipe. Spend time trying out different cheeses until you come up with one that is unique as well as tasty. It can be a great selling point if you use ingredients that are special to your area. For example, if you farm goats, use goat’s milk to make your cheese, and add flavorings you grow on your land, such as specific fruits or herbs.
Check What Permits You Need
Check the legislation before starting a food business. In most cases, a dairy processing permit will be required, which is issued by the state department of agriculture. Permits are issued on an annual basis, with various types available, depending on the products you are processing.
Create a Business Plan
Irrespective of the business you are planning to start, you need a business plan. A business plan sets out your plans for the business, including how you hope to develop the business, pricing strategies, and profit projections. If you need a loan to start a business, a business plan is essential. There are downloadable pro forma templates available online you can use to get started if necessary.
Invest in Equipment
In order to start processing cheese at a commercial level, you will need equipment. As the business grows, you may need to upgrade to larger items, but it’s fine to start small with just the basics, such as a large vat, a cheese press, and an alfalaval heat exchanger for hygiene purposes.
Start Manufacturing Small Test Batches
Begin your journey by making small test batches of cheese, to test the quality and flavor. Offer samples to local sellers, restaurants, and other outlets. Take feedback on board and be prepared to adjust your recipe if you discover a recipe isn’t well received or a customer makes a good suggestion.
Finally, marketing is all important. You need a good marketing strategy to attract new customers, so put time and effort into finding the best marketing channels for your target audience.