5 Proven Tips for Selling Your Food Product

How Green Mountain Mustard Won a Place on Supermarket Shelves

Green Mountain Mustard, found in over 100 retailers across New England.
••• Green Mountain Mustard

After several years of selling Green Mountain Mustard at farmer's markets, I decided I was ready to take it to grocery store shelves. It can now be found in more than 70 stores across the Northeast and other states. There are no secrets to success, but there are five key things that I learned the hard way about getting my product on the supermarket shelf and keeping it there. They're worth sharing with other entrepreneurs, no matter what their product is.

Don't Expect Food Brokers and Distributors to Sell for You

When I landed my first food distributor, I thought I'd be in hundreds of stores within a few months. It didn't happen. Distributors and brokers represent thousands of products. They're not going to single yours out (with certain regional specialty food distributors being an exception). You've got to be the one pounding the pavement, visiting stores to drop samples off and talking to store managers. Then your distributor will distribute your product.

Follow Up With Grocery and Supermarket Buyers

A single visit won't get your products on the shelf at the busiest store in town. You have to follow up about once every quarter. Yes, even if you're worried that you're just being annoying. The buyer forgot about you the second you left the last time.

After a couple days, follow up with an email or phone call.

Once you get on the shelf, follow up some more. Call the buyer to see how things are going. Spend some time developing ideas for store promotions to pitch during your follow-up calls and meetings.

Do Monthly In-Store Demos

Demos are awesome. They get you in front of new customers and you meet loyal fans. Plus, you get brownie points from your buyer for spending an afternoon dishing out samples. This shows your commitment to the retailer and your desire to push more product. Many stores only allow one demo slot per month, so schedule your next demo right after you finished your last one.

Clean Up and Keep an Eye on Your Shelf Space

No one buys dusty jars. They tell consumers that your product is old, unpopular, and close to its expiration date. Shine the jar tops with a microfiber cloth, straighten the facings, and pull the product forward. This attention to detail helps you sell more product. Meanwhile, you'll know when it's time to restock.

Start Small and Grow

Everybody wants their product to grow at lightning speed. I urge you to take it slow. You'll be more organized. You'll streamline processes and find out what works in retail. Going from five stores to 500 takes time, money, systems, maintenance, and a lot of sweat equity. Start small, figure everything out, and then make your move to shelf stardom.

Follow these tips, and eventually you'll have a great retail program in place. Best of luck dominating the store shelves!

Author bio: Michael Adams runs Green Mountain Mustard, found at stores across New England.