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Question

Bottling Bloody Mary Mix, how to start?

I am a bartender, and I've created my own homemade Bloody Mary mix. It's quite unique to what is sold as pre-bottled mix now, and has proven to be preferred to scratch Bloody Mary's in other establishments. I've built quite a following over it, have other bars and restaurants wanting to purchase it, and have decided to start bottling and marketing.

I've been a successful business owner in the past, but never approached anything in the food industry, and am in a position to need to learn EVERYTHING about how to go about this. The furthest I've gotten thus far is browsing state (Texas) laws and regulations and I have learned I cannot produce this at home and will need to rent a commercial kitchen. I have been put in touch with a local bottling company, but don't feel sourcing it out this early on is in my best interest.

My very rough draft of a business plan thus far is:

`1. Fine-tune my recipe to where it can be scaled down and scaled up to meet demand and maintain consistency. (Very important, but a bit of a challenge, as I am a "little bit of this, little bit more of that, pinch here, drop there" kinda cook, and that's how this started). Research ingredient availability and cost.

2. Research and familiarize myself with state laws and regulations; acquire any permits, licenses, patents/copyrights/trademarks, etc.;

3. Determine bottle sizes, shape, design, appearance and cost-analyze options. Design label/logo.

Now, my vision, also incredibly raw and uneducated at this point, is this:

Rather than start "big," I would like to market this myself first, and sell it myself. I picture going into bars and restaurants myself, offering samples to owner/management, and selling either individual bottles, or contracting for long-term. I would like to rent booths in trade shows and market to both general public and commercial buyers. Of course, I would take advantage of online marketing and selling as well, but mostly as an outlet for those who have already tasted and/or purchases the mix to re-buy or buy down the road. If this were to take off, I would need to contract with a bottling company/distributor at that point.

I am seeing the pros and cons to my approach. If I intend to do as I described above, my initial cost is smaller, but my product cost is high.

Any and all advice and input incredibly welcome! Bueller?

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All Answers

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Answer
cottage food industry

In reply to: Bottling Bloody Mary Mix, how to start?

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RE

In reply to: cottage food industry

The good news is that finding a commercial kitchen to work out of isn't the biggest challenge for me! LOL!

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There are permits you can obtain

In reply to: RE

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wholesale food production rules in Texas

In reply to: RE

This sounds like what you were interested in.

http://www.dshs.texas.gov/foods/faq.aspx

Using under "fair use" since this is government rules and regulations not subject to copyright protections.

Frequently Asked Questions - Food Manufacturers, Wholesalers, and Warehouses

Can I manufacture food in my home kitchen?
The rules do not allow any type of manufacturing or holding of food for distribution in any areas used as living or sleeping quarters unless it is completely partitioned from your home.

What is a food manufacturer?
You are considered a manufacturer if you: (the following are not all-inclusive)

Produce a food product or a component of a food and either package it for customer self-serve or sell to another business that will serve to customers or resale (i.e. grocery stores, restaurants, convenient stores, etc.)
Have another firm produce your product, but your company's name and address is on the label (see What is considered a Private Label Manufacturer? question, below).

What is "wholesale"?
The term "Wholesale" means to sell something to another individual, company, store (i.e. grocery store, convenient stores, restaurants, etc.), for the purpose of *resale (*serve or sell to customers).

What is "retail"?
Retail means to sell product directly to the final consumer.

What is considered a "Private Label Manufacturer"?
A Private Label Manufacturer is a person that does NOT directly manufacture product. Another firm makes the product, and the private label manufacturer labels the product with their own name and address.

If a Private Label Manufacturer doesn't actually manufacturer any product, then WHY must I license as a food manufacturer?
By placing your name and address on the label, you are responsible for the purity and proper labeling of the product. Therefore, you must license as a food manufacturer.

What type of license do I need if I just want to store food in a warehouse and distribute to retail outlets?
You will need a wholesale distributor's license, a warehouse operator's or a wholesale distributor's registration. How to License.

Do I need a license to sell candies, soft drinks, chips, and etc. through my company-owned vending machines?
No license is needed from this department. Be sure to check with your local health department for any local requirements.

How do I obtain a food manufacturer's or wholesale distributor's license?
License applications can be downloaded from the Licensure page and by clicking the appropriate license under Food Licenses. Print the application off and send in with the appropriate fee. Applications without fees will not be processed. You can refer to the Instructions for Filing Licensure Applications in the Licensure website..

How long will it take before I get my license?
If the information is complete, you can expect your license within 4-6 weeks. If you do not receive your license in 6 weeks, please call (512) 834-6670..

How do I know what fee to pay? I'm just starting my business and have no idea on the amount of Gross Annual Food Sales (GAV).
Make an educated guess on what you think your approximate GAV will be for the next year. If you underpay, the inspector will document this in the report and you will be required to pay the appropriate fee when you renew the license.

I want to start a pet bakery manufacturing pet foods, pet treats, etc. What license do I need?
We do not regulate the manufacturing of pet food. You will need to contact the Office of the Texas State Chemists, Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service at (979) 845-1121. You can visit the Office of the Texas State Chemist website for more information. You can also visit the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Pet Foods web page for more information.

I personally know several people who are making products in their home, packaging and selling at flea markets, festivals, fair, crafts shows, etc. How can they do this in their home and without a license?
An individual who manufactures and packages food for sale is required to be licensed as a food manufacturer. A requirement of being licensed as a food manufacturer is that no manufacturing can take place in the home kitchen. Individuals who make products in their home are in violation of the Texas Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 431 except for individuals operating under the Cottage Food Bill whose range of operation are restricted to the limited scope of food production processes, sale, and distribution allowed under the Cottage Food Bill. Information about operating under the Cottage Food Bill can be accessed by visiting Cottage Food Production Operations web page.

My garage is completely partitioned from my home. Can I use this to manufacture food, hold food for distribution, or repackage?
If your garage is in compliance with all relevant rules and statutes concerning food safety, then you may use your garage. There must be an outside entrance, and you must not be able to enter the garage through the house.

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Packaging of Food

In reply to: wholesale food production rules in Texas

This forum is very helpful for me. Packaging is very important for our food products or other products. packaging of food is provide the safety of the food. It is safe from sun radiations, germs, microorganism and etc.

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continued;

In reply to: RE

How do I know if my garage is in compliance with all relevant rules and statutes of the State of Texas?
The Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Good Warehousing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing or Holding Human Food code (25 Texas Administrative Code Part 1, Chapter 229, Subchapter N) will need to be reviewed to determine compliance with facility requirements. A few requirements are, but not limited to: (1) hand wash sink with hot and cold running water, (2) sanitation of food-contact surfaces, including utensils and food-contact surfaces of equipment, (that) shall be cleaned as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination of food*, (2) easily cleanable surfaces that are impervious to moisture including floors, walls, and ceilings, (3) tightly sealed windows, doors, and other entries to prevent the entrance of rodents, pest, vermin, etc. and (4) sufficient lighting and facility suitable in size, construction, and design to facilitate maintenance and sanitary operations.

*Note: firms that manufacture food and sell directly to retail consumers are subject to the Texas Food Establishment Rules: Please review these Rules as they have more specific requirements concerning ware wash sinks and equipment.

Can I manufacture or hold food in a portable building/separate facility at my home residence?
Yes, as long as the building/facility meets the requirements of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP's) found in Title 25 Texas Administrative Code 229.211-229.222.

Can I use a private well as the source of water for manufacturing operations?
Yes, but the private well will require special testing according to 25 TAC 229.217(1)(B)(ii).

What are the requirements for my manufacturing kitchen?
Please review GMP's 229.211-229.222. A few requirements are, but not limited to: (1) hand wash sink(s) with hot and cold running water, (2) sanitation of food-contact surfaces, including utensils and food-contact surfaces of equipment, (that) shall be cleaned as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination of food*, (3) easily cleanable surfaces that are impervious to moisture including floors, walls, and ceilings, (4) tightly sealed windows, doors, and other entries to prevent the entrance of rodents, pest, vermin, etc. and (5) sufficient lighting and facility suitable in size, construction, and design to facilitate maintenance and sanitary operations.

*Note: firms that manufacture food and sell directly to retail consumers are subject to the Texas Food Establishment Rules: Please review these Rules as they have more specific requirements concerning ware wash sinks and equipment.

What kind of labeling do I need on my product?
The four main parts to a label are, (1) the common or usual name of the product, (2) net quantity of content statement, (3) name and address of manufacturer (if you are a private label manufacturer, your name and address will be prefaced by "Distributed by:" or "Manufactured For:"), and (4) a list of ingredients in descending order of predominance. Please review the Food Labeling web page for more information on labeling. The labeling can be more involved if you intend to make nutrient content or health claims.

Do I have to have a Nutrition Facts panel on my product label?
Yes, unless you qualify for an exemption. See CFR 101.9(j) for exemptions

I want to make a non-refrigerated or shelf stable salsa and/or other canned foods. What must I do?
The production of salsa and canned foods fall under two specific federal regulations (CFR 113-- and CFR 114--). In order to determine whether you must comply with these regulations, we recommend you first contact Dr. Al Wagner, Texas A&M University Extension (979-845-7023), for a product evaluation. If the evaluation classifies your product as an "acidified" or "low-acid canned" food, you must:
1) complete forms 2541 and 2541a
2) attend a Better Process Control School (Dr. Wagner conducts class once per year at Texas A&M in College Station)
3) follow critical limits for production of product established by Dr. Wagner or other process authority

Do I need a license from the city or county health department?
It would be a good idea to call your city or county health department to discuss this issue. The State of Texas has no control over issuing city/county permits or licenses.

I have some labels that I want to get "Approved" before making mass quantities. Who do I send them to?
The Manufactured Foods Division will be glad to answer any specific questions with regards to your labels based on our rules and regulations. However, we do not "approve" labels.

Why do I need a license to bag ice?
Ice is considered a food. The definition of a food manufacturer is anyone who combines, purifies, processes, or packages food for sale. Therefore, bagging ice requires you to license as a food manufacturer. A local or county health department license/permit may be a separate requirement and does not substitute for a manufacturer's license from the state.

Last updated July 2, 2015

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Answer
Know what you don't know

In reply to: Bottling Bloody Mary Mix, how to start?

And by that I mean understand in detail the limits of your actual knowledge.

Reread the list of what you don't know. Add things like food chemistry, preservatives, shelf life, modifiers (for color, viscosity, to keep it from separating), actual bottling and packaging engineering, labeling, bottling temperature, copyright, trademark and intellectual property, marketing, and so on.

I think your wisest course is to start with a real food manufacturer who does private label manufacturing. They know the business. In short, they know all of what you know, all of what you know that you don't know, and all of what you don't know that you don't know.

Take them your recipe, let them help you scale it up into a real small batch product. They can help you put together a real business plan. They are in the business of making you successful. If your product sells, they make money.

This is expertise that you want to hire, not try to develop on your own.

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Answer
Bloody Mary Mix

In reply to: Bottling Bloody Mary Mix, how to start?

Was just researching bottling my mix. I'm not in Texas but im a bartender from Minnesota with a similar story to you. Ive done a lot of the legal and state, local licensing stuff. Got my recipie and nutritional label. Looking for help with bottling. I saw your post was from last year, wondering what you found? If your still making your mix? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks and good luck to you in the new year!!

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