How to Bottle and Sell Your Own Hot Sauce

Hot sauce, barbecue, and salsa are classic condiments; we put them on steak, fries, hamburgers, eggs, Mexican food, and many other dishes. Many people prefer to make their own hot sauce, salsa, or barbecue sauce from secret family recipes, rather than buy it from the store.

If you have amazing hot sauce recipes that your friends are always trying to copy, you can make a lot of money by bottling and selling your own sauces. You can sell barbecue sauces and salsas on a website, at street markets, or even distribute your hot sauce to grocery stores. As a business, there is plenty room for growth, and much money to be made with patience and persistence.

The first step is to learn the laws about selling food in your state. To sell sauce on even a small scale, you must make it in a licensed commercial kitchen that has passed an inspection, and you must have the correct bottling equipment. There are many ways you can rent professional kitchen facilities and bottling equipment. Talk to local restaurant owners or culinary programs. You may be able to rent kitchen space a few nights a week after business hours.

Next, set up an LLC to sell your hot sauce or barbecue sauce. A limited liability corporation protects you and your personal assets in case you are sued. In food production, you could be sued if someone gets after sick eating your sauce, or if another hot sauce maker thinks you are copying his recipe or trademark.

An LLC protects your own trademark, but not your recipe. Unfortunately, recipes cannot be patented. If you don't want get into a legal battle with someone taking your hot sauce recipe, keep it a secret!

After you have the laid the legal ground work, the next thing is to make your sauce. You want your product to consistent from bottle to bottle, so pick your suppliers wisely. Buy the necessary spices and non-perishable ingredients in bulk from a trusted source. You can buy the fresh ingredients from a local producer whom you trust. Meet local growers at farmers' markets and introduce yourself as a hot sauce maker. Offer samples, pass out business cards, and network as much as possible.

Once you have started producing the barbecue or hot sauce, you'll need to come up with a label design. You can hire an artist, or draw your own. Be sure to leave room for required nutritional information. Shop around for the best prices in bottle labelers.

Research federal requirements for ingredient lists and nutritional information on the labels. If you sell within the US, you are subject to the food safety and information laws here. If you do need to write detailed nutrition facts, you can submit a sample of your sauce to a food lab, and they will write up the analysis for you.

While you are setting up production, talk to local merchants about selling your hot sauce or barbecue sauce in their store. Start with smaller locally-owned shops before approaching larger chains. Local restaurants may also be interested in your sauces. Just watch out for recipe bandits!

Set up a website where people can read about your product and order the hot sauce online. An alternative to putting the nutrition facts on the label is to post them on your website. Internet marketing skills can make or break your small business. More and more people are buying food online, and a brilliant web strategy can get your sauce to millions of web surfers.

Consider taking a course in small business management and accounting. As your hot sauce business grows, you may need to bring more people board, or change your corporate structure.

© Had2Know 2010

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