Tell me about selling soup on a market stall.

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  • Tell me about selling soup on a market stall.
  • Mrs MTG’s got this idea about making soup and selling it on a market stall.
    This is something neither of us really know anything about.
    At the moment, the idea is to bulk cook a load of soup, put it in pots and freeze it, then sell the frozen pots on the stall.
    She would also like to sell bowls of soup, or give away small samples, so people can try before they buy.

    So…
    Keeping large quantities of soup frozen all day; cool box or freezer and generator ?
    Heating soup; big pan on a gas burner or one bowl at a time in a microwave with a generator ?
    Preparing, cooking and storing food in a normal domestic kitchen; what certificates or qualifications are needed ?
    A quick search on ebay, and 500ml sealed soup pots are about 50p each. that’s a big chunk of the total selling price gone; any cheaper options ?
    Anything else obvious we haven’t thought of ?

    There’s a farmer’s market in Bewdley every month, so we could do a small scale try out there.
    How do we find out all the legal requirements to start a small business like this ?

    TooTall
    Member

    buisnesslink is your starting point. Look for local small business advisors whose job it is to help guide your ideas.

    Edric 64
    Member

    I would seek advice from the environmental health dept at your council as they are the ones who inspect pubs and restaurant kitchens

    Edric 64
    Member

    If you are selling soup frozen could you not use those sturdy bags with the plastic zip seal ? I would have thought they would be cheaper .Or are waxed paper cartons available

    Premier Icon breadcrumb
    Subscriber

    I know a lass who makes cakes, she had to have her kitchen approved by the council IIRC.

    Premier Icon wonkey_donkey
    Subscriber

    yes need a license from the council for food hygiene i believe.

    project
    Member

    Public laibility insurance in case you make someone ill,

    a food hygene certificate,

    proper storage and heating up equipment, a thermometer to check and keep a record of temperatures,

    a sheet or book to record all the temperatures, and probably more,

    as for the environmnetal health, really nice helpful people but they do like to make them selves important, which they are, and they will demand quite a lot, treat them ok and they will be your ally, refuse and theyre youre worst nightmare.

    Mrs MTG has been thinking about this for a while, but we have only started looking in to it properly this morning, so we really are starting from nothing at the moment.
    A bit more searching on ebay, and flat freezer containers are about half the price of soup pot style ones. Ziplock freezer bags would be another option too, Edric.

    Mrs MTG has got a friend who is in some sort of local business forum, so we’ll be contacting her.
    There’s a local “Women in Business Group” as well, so she will probably go to their next meeting.
    We guessed she would need some sort of qualifications, certificates, insurance and inspection, it’s just knowing which ones exactly. We don’t want to book a stall, then get shut down in the first ten minutes because we can’t produce all the proper paperwork.

    The Farmer’s Market looks a bit strict on what they allow. I’m not sure they would want soup made with supermarket frozen veg, even if it’s made two miles away. They seem to be more aimed at local growers.
    I think we would be better off aiming for the regular market.

    Mantastic
    Member

    I go to that market often, well I walk past it, so over priced its frightening. I believe in buying local but not when it’s almost double the price.

    Premier Icon neilc1881
    Subscriber

    You could try getting in touch with local grocers and sorting a deal out, use seasonal veg to keep the market happy. We use a local food processor for garlic and chillies for the pickles we make. In my experience, markets that are anything other than food based tend to have poorer sales for foods (though i think some do well from what I’ve seen,;beers, cider, butchers with a grill going…). Fewer people are ‘foodies’ and willing to sample something.
    Vacuum packing may be worth looking into as well, though you’d need an expensive chamber-type machine for fluids. We have use of a local butcher’s machine should we need to use it for the pickles or lamb, bags can cost as little as a few pence.

    I go to that market often, well I walk past it, so over priced its frightening. I believe in buying local but not when it’s almost double the price.

    What do you do at dinner parties if you can’t say how much all the food cost from the farmers market!?

    😀

    Mantastic
    Member

    At dinner parties we chuck our keys in the fruit bowl and share the love. The cost of food rarely gets discussed

    neilc1881, there’s a greengrocer’s in Bewdley that promotes itself as selling mostly local produce. They also do bulk sales to hotels, schools atc.
    One of the ideas we’ve discussed is asking them if they would supply the veg and sell the soups in their shop.

    Mantastic, I know what you mean. I’ve worked in Public Transport and Haulage for years and my stock reply to anyone who complains about the cost of a bus ticket or parcel delivery is, “Buy a bus or truck, set up your own business and undercut everyone else”.
    I’ve always resented paying £1.60 for a portion of chips made with 10p worth of potatoes.
    Now that I’ve started looking in to food retailing, and the £30 a year to join Worcestershire Farmers Markets Group before they’ll let you have a stall and so on, I can see there’s likely to be a very fine line between cheap enough to sell and expensive enough to make a profit.

    Premier Icon neilc1881
    Subscriber

    Add in insurance, cost of making changes to kitchen/work area to ensure compliance with EA, labels, packaging, fuel… Good locally produced food is not cheap, the small producers are working against the massive buying power of the big boys. We have people all over the UK who want pickles having tasted them on holiday or been given a jar. W regularly get requests for a jar or 6 to be delivered to the other side of the uk, but as yet everyone has baulked at the cost of postage.

    Premier Icon Sandwich
    Subscriber

    MTG you’ll also need to be competitive with anyone else doing hot food on the market. Hopefully you’ll have no direct competition else your margins will suffer.
    Locally sourced ingredients and seasonal should be a winner if you have enough of a foodie “chattering classes” customer base.
    Good luck.

    Premier Icon rOcKeTdOg
    Subscriber

    The Farmer’s Market looks a bit strict on what they allow. I’m not sure they would want soup made with supermarket frozen veg, even if it’s made two miles away.

    I’d hope they don’t, use local fresh stuff not supermarket frozen. Make a feature of the freshness and local aspect otherwise people could just buy a tin of heinz cheaper and of the same quality

    slowmart
    Member

    http://www.heff.co.uk

    Try these guys. They specifically support start up’s in the food industry and have a wealth of knowledge and experience.

    Good Luck

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Subscriber

    I buy my soups on taste, and much as I hate to admit it, I’ve not found anywhere that betters Tesco’s finest range. Personally I’d come back and buy more from whoever makes the best tasting stuff, I’m not bothered whether the ingredients are local / organic / radioactive.

    Premier Icon rOcKeTdOg
    Subscriber

    Radio active glow in the dark soup, i reckon thats an untapped market!

    seba560
    Member

    MTG you’ll also need to be competitive with anyone else doing hot food on the market. Hopefully you’ll have no direct competition else your margins will suffer.

    Just make sure it’s a quality product then do some seriously pretentious marketing, like this, and watch it fly off the shelves at a premium price.
    Good luck.

    cynic-al
    Member

    I’d have thought you could buy direct from farmers or that lot that do vegetable boxes.

    I’d also think on the scale you are talking about you’ll never be properly cheap so better to go in at the high end but rustic at farmers’ markets etc.

    d45yth
    Member

    rOcKeTdOg – Member

    Radio active glow in the dark soup, i reckon thats an untapped market!
    I could supply you with some veg from around Sellafield if you like? 😀

    mogrim
    Member

    I’m not sure I’d want to buy soup in ziplocked freezer bags, however cheap+clean+ideal they would be… they seem… cheap? Plus you stick them in the car for a couple of hours, the soup melts, and you’ve got a problem.

    I’d be looking at either cheap tupperware style plastic containers with clip-on lids, or wax paper.

    Premier Icon neilc1881
    Subscriber

    No, frozen would go against the grain in terms of buying local, buying fresh. There are a few people around South Wales where we do our markets who sell fresh veggie foodstuffs, they do have a lot of buyers who choose to freeze some of their purchases, but I’d be reluctant to sell them frozen as mogrims has said. My money is on vacuum packing as it’ll prolong shelf too.

    Premier Icon wallop
    Subscriber

    As a punter, I wouldn’t buy frozen. I’d rather buy fresh and make my own mind up about whether I eat it rapido or freeze it for another day. Actually, I wouldn’t freeze it at all – we don’t own a microwave.

    Mantastic
    Member

    If selling frozen you assume punters are going home straight after purchase, people don’t like re freezing defrosted stuff

    Premier Icon wallop
    Subscriber

    Exactly. It’s not always that easy to go straight home. People who shop in markets don’t always have cars. I don’t drive to them, I’d walk.

    Thanks for the input everyone, you’ve given us a lot to think about.

    Selling it as a locally grown product on the Farmer’s Market is probably the best option.
    I’ll have to have closer look round the farmer’s Market and see if I can guess how many people are locals and how many are tourists, although the ratio is bound to vary between summer and winter, something to bear in mind if selling hot soup.

    Bewdley is very much a tourist town. A bit if guess work and generalisation;
    It’s a shopping destination for locals who want to avoid Kidderminster, so they will want local produce to take home and put in the freezer.
    There’s a lot of static holiday caravans within walking and driving distance, so they will want an easy meal to take back and heat up in the microwave.
    It’s a popular stop off for people on the Severn Valley Railway, so they will want something ready to eat there and then.

    If it was just a matter of making a couple of gallons of soup and seeing if it sells, it would be easy to just give it a go one Sunday.
    There’s a fair amount of commitment though, with the cost of memberships, qualifications and equipment and so on, so we want to do a bit more research first.

    Mantastic
    Member

    How about contacting the Severn valley and see if could trial some of it inboard their trains? They normally only have tea or coffee and a small range of sweets?

    See if you could sell some from the veg shop, you use their veg etc?

    Light bites the sarny shop sells sarnies to the businesses in Bewdley, worth an ask to see if they do a soup?

    Hopleys farm shop sells all sorts of stuff, frozen and fresh, could be another sales point for consideration

    Just a few ideas

    We’d already thought about selling it in the veg shop if we get the veg from there. It’s a very small shop though and I don’t think they’ve got a fridge or freezer.

    Soup is probably not the ideal food to sell on a train. We had thought about the little tuck shop at Arley though.

    We hadn’t thought about Hopley’s. Thanks for that suggestion.

    djglover
    Member

    I’ll have to have closer look round the farmer’s Market and see if I can guess how many people are locals and how many are tourists, although the ratio is bound to vary between summer and winter, something to bear in mind if selling hot soup.

    Just ask them! No point in guesswork for market research. Formulate a list of questions and annoy people!

    stuarty
    Member

    Lost with the take the soup home frozen part
    ?….
    If you’ve got descent hot fresh soup and a wee roll
    You’ll clean up ….
    But maybees your wanting to be the next Heinz

    You haven’t mentioned what flavour of soup
    You mention its touristy ..are they wanting to take soup home and what’s the chance of repeat custom

    2 urns of hot soup and a couple of pretty girls your on your way to your first million

    Tom B
    Member

    Good luck MTG. My two penneth: we visit at least 1 farmers market a month….the only way that I’d buy soup would be to eat there and then…the price you’d need to charge to make a profit would be x times more expensive than I could go and buy the ingredients for from the greengrocer stall that’d be on the same market as you. Most people that go to farmers markets are going to be ‘foodies’ that will more than likely be able to make decent soup themselves-it’s pretty quick and easy to make afterall. I’d look at buying ready made soup from a farmers market in almost the same way as buying a tin of heinz-it wouldn’t be ‘fresh’ so to speak. Maybe I’m just being poncey,but I’m just giving you the perspective of someone that both visits farmers markets and makes soup at home fairly regularly! As an aside,would your soups all be vegan?

    Mantastic
    Member

    MTG they sell fish from the veg shop so must have a fridge somewhere.

    If you need an impartial taster email is in profile 😉

    nealglover
    Member

    Actually, I wouldn’t freeze it at all – we don’t own a microwave.

    You don’t need a microwave ?

    I don’t have one either but I freeze stuff all the time.

    (Freezers have been around a lot longer than microwaves, and they weren’t all stood empty waiting for the microwave to be invented 😉 )

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    the only way that I’d buy soup would be to eat there and then…

    I think I’m inclined to agree. Nice mug of hot soup on a cold winter’s day whilst your partner drags you round a damp farmyard looking at thirty nearly-identical types of organic mustard or hand-knitted teaspoon holders or something, I’d be all over that.

    Frozen soup in a probably-not-all-that-well-sealed container? Less so. I think I’d be tempted if I was on holiday somewhere perhaps; nice thing to drag back to a self catering cottage maybe. Day to day? I doubt it.

    “Lost with the take the soup home frozen part”
    “the only way that I’d buy soup would be to eat there and then”

    I see your point. The problem is, that because I’m vegan and so little of the food at farmer’s markets is vegan, I’ve never really looked at them to see what they sell and who buys it.
    Fresh hot soup sounds more in keeping with a farmer’s market, but then the tourist season is in the summer, when people are looking for ice cream, not soup.

    “As an aside,would your soups all be vegan?”

    Yes, but as so many people have got preconceptions, we won’t make that a major selling point. Probably just a discrete marking as “Suitable for vegetarians/vegans” or “Gluten free” as appropriate.

    HI MTG
    A few points / ideas . Might be usefull , might not but I’ll stick a few down .
    Washing machine in kitchen area is/ was a no no .
    HACCP is a legal requiremnet
    Tracability is also a legal requirement
    Decent paper coffee cups and lids might be the way forward for hot food.
    A small propane heater with 4 burners each with a pot of something simmering in case some people wont touch Vegan or ‘i only eat meat’
    Unused stock on the day might have to be dumped
    Bad weather on market day ruins sales ( we do 100 a year approx)
    Footfall and spend per head is slowly declining at FM’s
    Nice quality soup is worth the extra expense, Tesco own brand cartons are in my basket evry week.
    Look into smoothies and what Innocent have done ( they use cleever packaging and price points to make there products look better value )

    No harm in asking around , very friendly bunch at Fm’s imo

    stuarty
    Member

    ” Soup n smoothies ” kinda got a ring to it

    cchris2lou
    Member

    from a legal point of view , you will need to have your kitchen visited by the local EHO .
    they cant stop you from doing it but you need to tell them . chances are they will inspect very soon .
    you need to have separate ustensils for the business, they need to be stored in a separate place . you can use same cookers but not same pans etc…
    you will have to comply with current food legislation , food safety act 1990 ,haccp, log temperatures etc…
    the cooling down is the nightmare bit as to comply with current regulations, from 75c to 8c in 90 minutes , you need to have a blast chiller .
    i would not sell frozen soup , sell it boiled in the bag ,it keeps for a few days and buyer can freeze them when they get home .

    on the market you will need a fridge , cooker etc…

    not cheap really .

    easier way to do it would be to sell a hamper with ingredients and recipe card . and you can have sample for people to try .

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