Dear Loyal Customers,
My dream is to make Beautiful Soup bone broth and soup available for sale at your favorite health food store, cafe, and healthy living center. It's a dream that's important for the long term viability of my business, because demand for soup drops in the spring and summer.
The path toward the USDA inspection required for selling wholesale is long and challenging.
- First, I'd need a stable lease at a commercial kitchen. I'm not willing to take on debt, so I need to save to accomplish this and to make allowance for what could be a several month process.
- Second, I'd like the support of a Food Safety consulting company and perhaps recourse to a food lawyer (yes, this exists!) to help ensure I make an acceptable HACCP plan to avoid wasted effort and funds on an amateur plan that could fail.
- Third, I need a ServSafe Food Manager Certification, which requires time and diligent studying.
- Fourth, I need to refine my recipes in small batches to ensure consistently awesome results, change the packaging to avoid tragic soup spills and shatters and to do a lot of associated paperwork and financial planning.
In short I need savings, diligent planning, and time to pull this off.
Not just any kitchen
The bar of food law compliance is much higher with soup than, say, baked goods and canned goods. Recent changes in the law dictate that soup must be produced in an inspected facility with a commercial grade vent hood. There are no establishments meeting this description in Shenandoah county available for rent, and though I've been grateful for the kitchen I've cooked in previously, the flexibility and supportive community of other fellow food entrepreneurs that's offered in an incubator kitchen would be optimal.
An incubator kitchen!
I've found just such a community at Frontier Kitchen in Haymarket, VA. Several other farm to table vendors that produce there means we could pool orders to have our favorite local farms deliver directly to the kitchen, saving hundreds of miles of driving. The kitchen availability and code of conduct make it possible to access the kitchen spontaneously for short spurts of cooking and prep. And, best of all! Frontier is developing a relationship with Amazon Fresh and pioneering other food delivery solutions to allow my customers to order online and have front door delivery of frozen soup within hours. Nourishing Paleo soup as easy as ordering takeout Chinese food! Yes.
Slow food, slow process!
I've spoken with my amazing, accomplished peers in this niche industry of farm to table soup and bone broth, and they've communicated that patience and diligent compliance is the word. Now I see that attempting to sell retail by this spring and before the summer slump, my original plan, would be rushing it. Still, I won't trade anything for the valuable experience I've gained and the incredible loyal following and y'all's encouragement and support of my endeavor of the last four months! Now it's clear to me that taking the time to carefully make the many faceted preparations for scaling up is a sound approach for me to provide you with soup in full compliance in the long term.
So I'm taking this spring and summer as time to regroup, to study, and to save for implementing a goal to sell retail in Fall and Winter 2017. I will stop the subscription service effective next week to allow me time to prepare. I will scale back to producing small, artisanal batches of bone broth, developing new recipes, and honing y'all's favorite soups -- Paleo Potstickers, Butternut Apple Bacon, etc.! -- to consistently high standards, and will craft them carefully and with love out of my uninspected home kitchen.
What does this mean for you, dear customers?!?
- It means I will cancel your subscriptions and pause the creation of any more.
- I will email you periodically when I can offer small batches of your favorite soups at a suggested price and clearly labeled "made in an uninspected home kitchen."
- I will sell the soups I have made up to this point and have frozen.
- I am exploring ideas to save up to lease Frontier and provide for legal and consulting fees.
I will keep in touch!
I will keep you apprised of new developments. To some of you whose smiling faces I won't see for a while because of these changes, farewell for now! It's a privilege making soup for you! To all of you: thanks for being a part of this adventure! Wholesale USDA approved Beautiful Soup here we come. :)