Shelf Stability And Expiration

There have been many articles recently about expiration of food products and best by dates.

Our customers set their best by dates for food safety as well as food quality. Often the expiration has more to do with the freshness than the issue of contamination.

The only true way to find the food safety expiration is with a shelf study performed by a food science laboratory. This is a relatively expensive exercise for a small business and typically take a long time. There are some facilities that will perform an accelerated shelf study, but they are costly.

Most products that are shelf stable, meaning that they do not need refrigerated must be subjected to some kind of heat treatment to prevent the growth of pathogens, primarily botulism.

This heat treatment can offer shelf stability for a long time.

Intro To Product Shelf Stability And Acidity

Intro To Product Shelf Stability And Acidity

Intro To Product Shelf Stability And Acidity

Your product shelf stability and acidity are very important aspects in the development of your product. In small food, manufacturing pH is a critical factor enabling your product to be shelf-stable.

The pH scale is a 14 point reference from 0 to 14, where 0 is the most acidic and 14 is the most alkaline.

It is measured with a pH meter. There are many types of pH meters, but generally, a digital unit with a separate probe is more accurate. They can range from $250 and up.  A good meter is worth the investment. The meter must be calibrated frequently to give accurate measurements and requires buffering liquid for this procedure. All of which can be purchased at the same tile from a reputable company such as Cole Parmer.

 

pH is important for food items as pathogenic bacteria cannot grow in a low pH environment.

Each bacteria has a different threshold. The most dangerous pathogen as far as shelf stability is concerned is clostridium botulinum (botulism) which cannot grow below a pH of 4.5.

As a reference, vinegar and lemon juice have an approximate pH of 2. Tomatoes have an approximate pH of 4 and most vegetables have a pH between 6 and 7, which is close to neutral. As a contrast, soapy water has a pH of approximately 12, which is alkaline.

To be safely packed, pH must be used in conjunction with temperature to prevent the possibility of mold growth.

When used together and evaluated by a recognized process authority, your product my be held at ambient temperatures and will be safe for an extended time for people to eat. This can be done without the addition of dangerous chemicals. The process authority will write a scheduled process for you, which will outline the manufacturing requirements.

Ingredients with a low pH are sour and any additions of acid – lactic, malic, citric, vinegar, lemon juice or any other acids – will make your product tarter.

This type of control is essential to ensure that your product is safely manufactured and will be safe to eat. This is why product shelf stability and acidity are important aspects of your product development.

You can continue to read: The importance Of A Scheduled Process?

Who Is My Target Market? A Product Marketing Tip

Who Is My Target Market? A Product Marketing Tip

Who Is My Target Market? A Product Marketing Tip

Who is my target market? Identifying your target market is a crucial step in creating a successful product. Often people producing a product will say that their product is for everyone, but that is a mistake! Many different consumer bases may purchase your product, but you will have a few core target markets or target audiences that make up the bulk of your purchases. So–how do you figure out who your target market is?

First, you must understand the need your product fills. What are the core benefits your product has? Create a simple definition of your product and its benefits.

Once you have a good idea of your product, research potential target markets. There is a lot of free and available for purchase market research online. Analyze each group’s values, priorities, and the other types of products they purchase. Who are influencers to these groups? Do they value Organic or Kosher certification? How is your product differentiated from the other products they purchase? Although you can research your targets infinitely, spend some time getting a better idea of the groups you want to focus on.

Once you figure out your key market you can use that information to shape your product in a way that highlights the benefits those groups see as priorities. You can use marketing in the areas that most likely to reach those consumer groups. A better understanding of your target market can transform your product from a good idea to a huge success!

Read this next article article: Pretend You Are Bigger Than You Are

Where To Start? How To Start Producing And Selling Your Product!

Where To Start? How To Start Producing And Selling Your Product

Where To Start? How To Start Producing And Selling Your Product!

Where to start? So you have an incredible product that you want to produce and sell. We would love to help–but before we do, here are some steps to streamline the process:

  1. Know your product–understand the measurements and ingredients needed to make your product. The food products we work often have a natural, generally organic ingredients. Understand what your options are for wholesale ingredients and what the most cost-effective way to store and purchase them. If possible, come prepared with a scheduled process. If you are not able to create one, the OFI provides services to create one for your product.
  2. What equipment will you need? While the Organic Food Incubator has equipment for several needs, you potentially need something we do not currently have. For information about the equipment, we have available check here.
  3. How will you package your product? Depending on the product needs packaging may differ. When picking the packaging to think about maintaining flavor, freshness, product shape, and if production will affect the package (i.e. heat or freezing product).
  4. Have a timeline of your production expectations. Is this the first time you are producing this product–do you want to run a trial run? Do you expect to produce monthly, weekly, etc? Have an idea of where you see your business going.
  5. Make sure you have the licensing and insurance to produce your product. There are accredited programs that offer training and licensing.

If you do not know this information and your still not sure where to start, OFI provides consulting services to help you make your product. For consulting services, reach out here.

Continue Reading: 3 Reasons Why Getting A Scheduled Process Is Important

Is It Important To Be Certified Organic Or Kosher?

Be Certified Organic Or Kosher?

Is It Important To Be Certified Organic Or Kosher?

Is It Important To Be Certified Organic Or Kosher? Both yes and no. Both of these certifications have benefits but are often costly so they are not the best choice for all products.

USDA organic certification shows that your product is grown and processed with approved substances that are USDA verified. The image below outlines what the USDA seal ensures.

Some customers are only interested in organic products or may be willing to pay a premium for organic certification. If you think you will have an increased customer base through organic certification it may be the right choice. However, in many cases, if you provide a high-quality trustworthy product to consumers, organic certification may not be necessary.

This stands true for Kosher certification as well. Using the Kof-K emblem we are able to provide Kosher certification for products. Kosher certification can be beneficial if your consumer base sees Kosher certification as a priority.

In order to get a better idea of the benefit these certifications may provide to your product, you need to understand your target market. Research your potential target markets and their priorities to see if these certifications are the right choice for you.

If you are still interested in gaining a certified organic or kosher certificate for your product please Contact Us Here to help you get your application setup the right way. H

Margins And Costs| Where Is Your Profit?

Margins And Costs| Where Is Your Profit?

When we are talking about Margins And Costs relating to the food manufacturing industry you need to know somethings. After you finally get your product distributed to the supermarkets, and now your looking for where is your profit?

Unfortunately, you do not get to take home your retail price. Before you see a profit, the grocers margin is deducted, the distributors margin is deducted and your costs are deducted. The amount that is remaining is your profit.

Grocer’s margins are a percentage of the retail price. sometimes put to 40%.

Distributor’s margins are a percentage of the the grocers cost, sometimes up to 35%

Your profit is the difference between all of your cost and your selling price.

Your costs can include ingredients, packaging, labor (in house or co-packer). These are call cost of goods sold. In addition your costs also include marketing, insurance, social media, website, utilities, sales staff and more.

Proper planning prevents poor performance. Before launch, consider all of the factors that will affect your profit and your margins.

Read Next: Who is My Target Market? 

Filing A Scheduled Process

Filing A Scheduled Process

For most shelf-stable fluid products it is necessary to obtain a Scheduled Process prior to processing.

A scheduled process is your recipe and procedure, which has been review and edited by a recognized process authority. With very few exceptions, if you are making a product that is fluid and shelf-stable, you will be required to have a scheduled process.

The FDA regulates the production of food and requires that the scheduled process be registered with the FDA.

The links below will take you to some recognized process authorities:

Food Science New England – – Fred Jewett – fred.fsne@gmail.com

NorthEast Labs 

Cornell University

University of Maine

North Carolina State University   or NCSU Filing Page 

To obtain a scheduled process, you will submit:

  1. Your recipe. Each ingredient must be measured by weight (pounds, ounces, grams, kilograms). Choose one unit of measure stick with it.
  2. Your method. This is the production steps.

The scheduled process is formal document and must be followed exactly, by you or by your co-packer.

You may do this yourself, or we will do it for you. The advantage of using our services is that we have filed many processes and understand the pitfalls that slow the process. We are normally able to have the process approved faster with less difficulty. We review your process and offer suggestions to help speed you on your way to production.

It is to your advantage to streamline the process and allow for as many variables as possible.  For example, if you make 5 fl oz bottles, but you think maybe in the future, you want to make half gallons, ask the process authority to write it for “4 fl oz up to 128 fl oz”

You may also ask them to write statements such as “Water maybe added to thin the product to the correct consistency” or “Vinegar maybe added to adjust pH”

If it is not on the document, you are prohibited from making adjustments without permission.

It is also important for you to know how many gallons of product (this is a unit of volume) or unit of product produced by this quantity.

The process authority will make adjustments to your recipe and procedure to insure that it can be safely held at room temperature. This may include the addition of acid, salt, sugar or other additives to create the correct pH or water activity.

Do not be afraid to question the additions if you think that it will change the flavor or texture of the product. There may be other options.

Once you have your scheduled process, you are ready to go into production and can safely make a shelf stable product.

Visit from Children’s Village

The Children’s Village mission is to work in partnership with families to help society’s most vulnerable children so that they become educationally proficient, economically productive, and socially responsible members of their communities.

We hosted a small group last night. They took a tour of the OFI facility and met with some of the community members. Everyone was very interested and had great questions. Each person had the opportunity to ‘work’ in the BAO kitchen and pack  and label a jar of Raw Slaw to take home.

Thanks to Karen from Free Bread, Jim from the OFI and Giuseppe from Alchemy Creamery for taking time to speak with the group. Thanks also to Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. for providing samples.

 

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Commercial Kitchen Rental For Daily And Monthly Use

Commercial Kitchen Rental For Daily And Monthly Use

There is a new food economy emerging today where it isn’t just about the products we consume; it is also about the culture and community we are creating.  We welcome mindful food and drink entrepreneurs to come to the Organic Food Incubator to bring your dream to life.  Our commercial kitchen rental has everytthing you need to get you started. Join forces with other entrepreneurs that are working to change the way our food system works.