Experts on Tap: Tips and Tricks for Exhibiting and Selling New Products

On Tuesday, March 8th, 2022, we held a live, online discussion with industry experts to help producers elevate their businesses and gain new listings and retail opportunities. Plus, the panel offered tips and tricks for exhibiting and preparing for upcoming events, including the Local Food & Buyers Mixer (March 18th) and the 9th Annual Cheese! It’s a Natural Festival (March 19th) in Armstrong.

In case you missed this event or want to listen to the experts one more time, you can check out the highlights and the event recording below!

Advice for business owners who are exhibiting for the first time at a food expo

Before you go: 
  • Find out what your space is going to be like
  • Have your pitch practiced and ready to go
  • Know your cost of goods and what your minimum sales/orders are
  • Create your expo kit
  • Buy a pressure mat (a $20 life hack!)
  • Have a goal: Are you there to find 1-2 buyers? Or to network with everyone?
  • Research the attendees and buyers and who will be there from the consumer side
  • Going east of Manitoba? Bring a French speaker.

During: 

  • Always take a break. Eat, drink and take some time to chill.
  • Don’t come alone. Bring others so you can take turns and maintain a presence.
  • Use CRM software to collect info from buyers and set dates to follow up

Advice for a successful new product listing experience

  • Learn the 5 P’s: product development, pricing, packaging & labeling, pitch, promoting
    • You need to be professional and prepared–good at all the things
    • For promoting, many new producers don’t realize that if they want to break into a new market, they need to build in giving away a product. Food demos are the best way to stand out!
  • Set your price right at the beginning (don’t keep upping the price because it creates customer frustration
  • When it comes to doing your research, your friends and family are not the market
  • Prepare for production gaps (if you want to take a vacation, for example)
  • Do more research on retailers. Who is the right fit? What do they need/want and what can you do for them to make it fit?
  • Growing pains are inevitable, so be open and honest in your communication
  • Just because you think the market needs your product doesn’t mean it’s true. Does your product fulfill a need?
  • Test the demand before you invest in packaging to know how the market feels about your product first
  • Factor in your cost of labour. Pay yourself!
  • Don’t set it and forget it. Once you get into a new store, you need to keep working on the relationship. 

What the most successful buying/selling relationships look like

  • Open communication
    • For example, if you’re short on quantity, tell the store before delivery day. If the truck broke down, call to find a new delivery time.
  • Create a written digital record of your agreement
  • Have clear requirement with your suppliers
    • E.g. monthly phone calls to clarify product requirements and if any problems fallow up right away
    • Keep record of the product. How it has been received? Is it meeting requirements?
    • Pay suppliers on time
  • Get to know the general manager and purchasing manager at each store. Talk to them directly and build personal rapport. 
  • Have clear stocking requirements. Does a store want you to stock your product directly?
  • Decide on shipping or delivery method
  • Don’t take on more stores unless you are 100% you can provide consistent supply
  • Send invoice with same terms at the same time each month – don’t be late
  • At the end of the day it’s still business, so be familiar with business terms. Ex. Know what “claims” are and what “stale dated” products are. 

Ready to meet buyers and show off your products?

Be sure to join us for the Local Food & Buyers Mixer on March 18th and the 9th Annual Cheese! It’s a Natural Festival in Armstrong.

For more resources, including a free wholesaling webinar and resource guide, visit our event page.