The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

How to know if a bread is going to be popular?

SugarOwl's picture
SugarOwl

How to know if a bread is going to be popular?

Hello, I am working on my business plan and I have a few questions.

1) Sourdough is not readily available here, even our local bakery only makes plain and on Fridays only. They sell out by noon. How do I know if there is a market for it if I want to concentrate on sourdough loaves?

2) I am trying to work on my business plan and hope to be up and running a year from now, so plenty of time to work on products. Is this the right place to post my outline for feedback? Or is there a better site for this?

I tried my local SBA seven years ago and was told, "a woman doesn't have a chance" by a grumpy old man so I never bothered with them again. I am picking this dream of mine back up and plan to give it a chance once my youngest starts preschool. I am not going to do this blindly, I am trying to make sure I have all the business ducks in a row and that my products are consistent. I am looking to start with cookies, muffins, scones, cinnamon rolls, and sourdough bread (loaves and rolls). I still have a lot of work to do to make my things sell-worthy, but I have time and hungry neighbors!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

until you do some taste testing.  Hey, did you ever find out your water pH?  Florida is known for alkaline water.

SugarOwl's picture
SugarOwl

I ended up using bottled water. The city's website said it was 9 and contains fluoride and chloramine. I will use bottled water this round too. I dehydrated my starter after a bit since my husband and kids didn't like it much. I am buying some water soon to re hydrate it (along with some rye flour). I have been itching to try that chocolate cherry sourdough I saw a while back.

I was afraid the answer would be taste testing, I will just have to see what happens. I have some time at least, as long as the school system doesn't screw itself up over COVID regulations.

pmccool's picture
pmccool

you might want to try baking bread on a subscription basis.  That would allow you to try out various breads and get customer feedback with very little financial risk, since you would only bake what had been pre-sold.  And you would get to practice your craft while learning whether the baking biz is as good as it looks on paper.  

If you use the Search tool here, you can look up terms like subscription or micro-bakery or home bakery to get a sense of what others are doing.  You may need to check with your local health department and have your kitchen inspected, based on your locale's cottage food laws.  

Best of luck!

Paul

SugarOwl's picture
SugarOwl

I did see that, thanks.I did forget about the term micro-bakery, but I thought that was just for specialty, tour-type bakeries. I got a few good ideas from reading the forum over the last year and plan to do it based on pre-orders only to start with and then slowly work up to farmers market level. But I was also wondering if it was appropriate to post my outline (no details, it would be way too long) to see if I missed anything in starting up. I am still working on my recipes and hope to be doing this in a year. Just trying to dot all my i's and cross my t's so to speak. My husband is nervous this will be just a hobby, especially since we have children. This wouldn't be a full time venture, but definitely a business and not a hobby.

Maybe I'm just jittery with working on the business side and recipe sides at the same time and with the usual that comes with having kids. This is the first time I've given myself a deadline for this thing to be figured out. I've wanted to do this since I was a kid, but holy cow the nervousness that happens when you finally start to do it seriously. I think my husband is tired of hearing me talk about fat/flour/sugar adjustments. Time to switch to decaf I suppose.

Extra Question: I saw this pricing structure and wondered if it is a good guide for bread? 25%ingredient/packaging cost, 30% overhead, 35% labor, 10% profit. I was wondering if that was a good thing to shoot for in terms of trying keeping my costs down while making a profit. Or is there a better pricing structure that is a good starting base?

Planeden's picture
Planeden

Posting an outline seems like a good idea.  Even non-food business owners may be able to review and help. I started my own business a couple of years ago and know how daunting it is and how many things are constantly swirling in your mind.  

 

retired baker's picture
retired baker

ingredients for bread are way lower, try 10% or lower...unless you fill the dough with walnuts or olives etc.

Packaging , around 2%. Even less for products that don't require fancier window boxes, white bags are dirt cheap.

Overhead, don't we wish it was that low. If you need commercial retail space, thats the killer. Electric is electric, it doesn't care if you have a terrible location, its the same with gas etc. But the worst bargain in business is a cheap rent, its better to pay for the high foot traffic location then concentrate on cranking product out.  If rent is 10% of monthly gross sales you should be doing ok, if it goes over 20% you're gonna have a harder time. Rent is a fixed overhead whereas utilities will vary. 

Labor will sink you, politicians think everyone should be paid at least $15 hr, guess who pays that?  Its impossible to pay people who are skilled when the unskilled are getting $15. 

I wouldn't open a bakery again today if you held a gun to my head, go ahead and shoot because I ain't going back to that again. You don't own a bakery, it owns you.

not.a.crumb.left's picture
not.a.crumb.left

and a subscription service is a great way to start and for me it naturally evolved that way baking for friends and then friends of friends...So without much advertising the word spread and I wanted to keep my customers very local too. Baking scale and volume  is not massive and very, very 'microbakery' as I could not continue with the markets right now but I treat the subscription like a vegetable box scheme and all my customers are happy for me to decide what loaf they get per week.

It gives me the opportunity to learn baking a variety of formulas and experiment  (but not running the risk of any leftovers and that was always a worry at the market but was always sold out..phew)  and all of them love the 'Friday surprise' loaf...

It also depends how quickly you want to grow but for me it is still the best at the moment. It also is practical with the flour situation (better now) but at times I did not know what flour would be available and all my very friendly customers were happy for me to decide...Many mills sadly  don't treat many microbakeries like their wholesale customers due to the volume of flour...

The business model  is all different for any of us - especially at this difficult times - but I wanted to grow slowly and had the luxury to 'top up' income , keep cost low by baking from home and building the business as I continue to learn and also learn what is sellable at the same time... I researched the local SD market and what bakeries there are and their pricing module. What attracts many of my customers is the 'local' element and that the bread often is still warm from the oven....That is a great selling point...

My weekly Saturday market was also great for that but sadly now has been cancelled for the foreseeable future. So it is subscription including very local socially distanced delivery. Good luck...Kat

 

SugarOwl's picture
SugarOwl

Subscription is looking like the way to go. I figure I'll start with neighbors and church first. I'm a bit concerned about the flour but I'm hoping things get back to normal next year. I want to do this slowly, as I don't think I have enough time and space for a large start.

Warm from the oven is a good selling point! I will definitely make delivery day baking day, but how long to do you wait to cool until you put it in the bag for delivery? Won't it get soggy in a bag, or is that why paper is used? I figured it would have to be fully cool to avoid that. If I deliver warm, I'll have to get some warm bags like what pizza drivers use, just not sure if humidity would be a problem, it's humid year round here (well except for 2 weeks in winter where we actually get temps in the 50s and 60s).

not.a.crumb.left's picture
not.a.crumb.left

might be the better term...I normally let the bread cool down for 2 hours and it is packaged in paper bags. So it might not be 'warm' but most of my customers live very near to me and know it was baked at 6-9 in the morning that day and they have it at 12 at their door......so not too literal a term ....but it was actually a term used by one of my customers....

I also find in my case Instagram very useful. People can see the space where and how I make my bread that then is later at their doorstep... I wish you all the best..

 

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Check it out. Lot's of good info there for starting a small or home-based food business, including how to determine if your product will sell. Check out the blog, listen to some of the podcasts, sign up for the newsletter so you get notifications for his free mini-course. He's providing a nice service. He also did a webinar on how to set up a website with online ordering, but I don't know where to find it now.


Top Ten Mistakes - forrager.com
  Lesson 1  Lesson 2  Lesson 3
The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Thank you so much, for posting this great resource! I had looked into The NYS cottage law, a few years back. Not being able to sell from home was a deal breaker! Mr. Crabill, made it so easy to find out the law was updated, without any fanfare or notice. NYS now allows from home sales! Living in a densely populated area just might have an advantage after all! I am going to resume research. Maybe, just maybe, "The Roadside Pie king" or "The Brooklyn Maltese" will come to fruition after all! Which name do you like better? Photo is strictly for attention!

 Unrelated, my slow-Moe starter, was born from your pineapple juice method! I want to say about ten years ago? 

 Best regards.

Will F. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

How dare you show us such a georgeous pie without telling us what's in it!  Drooling without knowing, why. It looks like rhubarb, anything else?  I think I spy a strawberry.  Oh, you!

You!  Make my day!   :)

 Mini 

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Noon whistle just went off.  Thanks.  ❤️   Oooooh, chunky!  

Benito's picture
Benito

Very nice Will, looks delicious.  I just made a blueberry rhubarb pie if you’d like to see it Blueberry Rhubarb Pie. Oops we have high jacked your thread, sorry.

Debra Wink's picture
Debra Wink

Thank you Will, and yes, great resource. Clearly Mr. Crabill has done a lot of research. Here are two podcasts that might be of interest to you:

https://forrager.com/podcast/how-to-improve-your-cottage-food-law-with-erica-smith/

https://forrager.com/podcast/how-to-start-a-cottage-food-business-from-your-home-kitchen/

Beautiful photos btw --- especially those baguettes. Strawberry-rhubarb might be my all-time favorite pie, and I haven't made one in years. I may have to change that ...