How to Start a Home-Made Canned Foods Business

April 13, 2006 | By | Reply More

QUESTION ON How to Start a Home-Made Canned Food Business

I have been in the IT field for 5 years – doing considerably well and building an honest and stable reputation. However, I figure that there are only two things that anybody cannot escape: hunger and death.

With that realization (and an aversion to starting a funeral home), I have thought recently of going into the food business. I am a considerably good cook with several recipes that are surefire hits. Together with my uncle who is also an excellent cook, I plan on hitting the market shelves for jarred cooked viands specializing in that homemade taste. Can you please give me some advice on how to start?

If possible, you can skip the part about branding and identification. Are there support groups, websites, books etc. that I can consult? How do I extend the shelf-life of my product with the least possible introduction of preservatives? Thanks.

– Arthur – Philippines


Advice by Nach M Maravilla

Dear Arthur,

In any kind of business — especially for one that requires a substantial amount of capitalization — it is highly beneficial to make a business plan first. The business plan will help you see how you will go into the business, and help you foresee risks and threats that could jeopardize the business. So many businesses fail because of lack of careful planning. The business plan can help you solve problems before you decide to invest your hard earned money.

In the Philippines, I remember that there are companies like Century Canning, Philips Foods, Pure Foods, RFM, California Manufacturing, etc. that used to can viands and Filipino dishes like lechon paksiw, mechado, caldereta, and many more.

Jarred food is not very much in use because of the difficulty in getting glass jars and also the degree of breakages, both during the manufacturing process and during transport. Glass jars are expensive, too and supply may not be readily available.

The preserving of food without preservatives is done by creating a vacuum inside the jars or cans after sealing, and this is achieved by heating the jars or cans at high temperatures usually through the use of pressure cookers or steam cauldrons driven by steam boilers. Perhaps, you can arrange a survey or a visit to one of the food manufacturers I listed above. From them you can have an idea how commercial food processing is done. Depending on the capacity of the volume you plan to go into, the equipment costs are staggering. You will need, mixers, steam boiler, seaming machines, packaging machines and many others. (Labor cost can also hurt you in the beginning). How will you distribute your products? You will need delivery trucks.

Another way is by freezing. Many companies also use this process and they use vacuum sealing machines that can keep food preserved for long periods of time as long as they are kept frozen. However, the cost of freezers and electric consumption may also be a deterrent for small time operators or beginners in the business.

The Philippine Department of Trade and Industry used to have pamphlets about different ways of preserving food. You can inquire for more information from there. In fact, they used to have classes and training sessions for those who want to venture into food processing, in particular, Sardines (Spanish Style) similar to Victorias and La Ilonga from Negros Occidental.

Also check with the Technology Resource Center of the Department of Science and Technology as I know that they have some technical publications about food canning and food preservation. You may want to ask them if they have made business case studies on this type of business.

If you are serious about your plan, maybe you can think of a specialty dish to start the business. For example, you start with just one product and see how it goes. But, I suggest that you make a thorough study of the whole business before anything else. Study the Market. Costing. Selling prices, Distribution Outlets, Handling, Shipping. Raw material supplies, Labor, etc.

Make a plan, then let us know what you think. If you have limited resources, maybe the best alternative at the moment is to book orders and deliver in styrofoam lunch packages in offices in Makati or Ortigas. Here you can learn what customers really want, and whether a demand for such type really exists in metropolitan Manila.

I suggest you read the article “Amy’s Kitchen: From Home-Based to Multi-Million Frozen Food Business”, which built a frozen food business that offers home-made taste.

Regards and good luck.

Nach M Maravilla

Recommended Resources on How To Start a Canned Foods Business

Nach Maravilla is the President and CEO of LLC. He has over thirty years experience in sales and marketing of various products, which covered as he jokingly describes, “from toothpicks to airplanes” He also had extensive experience in International trading and he always excelled in special promotional ideas for retail outlets.

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