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So many gourmet product lines start in a tiny kitchen, at small family gatherings and in the privacy of a home or apartment. At some point down the line, someone says, “dang, you should sell these,” and a lightbulb starts flashing.

The small gourmet food producers of the world work in little kitchens on shoestring budgets, but still manage to get wholesale opportunities with retail giants like WholeFoods. They are able to generate cult followings of foodies from all over the country. Marketing, social media and good old fashioned word of mouth work best, but we’ve discovered another hidden jewel: Foodzie – the Etsy of gourmet food.

I asked Dan Holtz, CEO of Liz Lovely, an organic and vegan cookie bakery about Foodzie and he raved about them. “They’re an amazingly cool company who’ve leveraged Silicon Valley to build an online street fair for micro products.  I highly recommend them to any small food producer, especially if you don’t want to develop your own online store.”

The Foodzie Tasting Box

So let’s talk about their tasting box. In addition to offering an online marketplace for gourmet food producers to sell their products, they also offer a unique marketing opportunity. Every month, Foodzie sends out a “tasting box” of 5-10 specialty items, hand-picked from their stores, to their $20-a-month subscribers.

According to a chat I had with Kaye Chew, Office Manager at Foodzie, 35% of tasting box subscribers end up buying a product (and probably one that was featured in the box). The box subscribers also happen to be their most outspoken customers, praising brands publicly on Twitter, Facebook and in comments on their website. So getting featured in a box is looking like a pretty good goal – and it’s free. Read more about that below.

Fiona Simon, Founder and CEO of Fiona’s Granola was recently featured in a Foodzie tasting box and was hand-selected by Foodzie when “they were looking to put a granola in the tasting box.”

Simon, also sells her Granola in “two regions of Whole Foods (Rocky Mountain and Southwest), in a number of smaller, independent natural grocery stores, at athletic clubs and coffee/tea shops, as well as on Amazon.com.  We also sell to restaurants and gift basket companies.”

She told us that she’s seen an increase in sales, but that it’s “still too soon to tell” how well it worked. She still thinks it’s “a great portal to get your product out in front of consumers that are looking for products more in the artisan, gourmet niche, and for specialty items that are hard to find under one roof.”

Nella from Ledgenear Farm, who was featured in Foodzie’s October box says, “our company was only 6 months old, and the exposure and buzz around my product with customers and bloggers was great!”. When asked about whether they’d participate again, Jean Arnold from 479 Popcorn said “”I think the Tasting box is a brilliant idea and the team at Foodzie are some of the most creative food entrepreneurs out there. We’d definitely participate again.”

Dan from Liz Lovely was also recently included in a “tasting box” and says “it was a hefty sale for us (about 4000 units) and garnered fantastic customer feedback.”

So what does it take to get in the Foodzie tasting box? An approved account (guidelines below) and the willingness to give up samples for Foodzie’s current 5,800 subscribers.

How to get started with Foodzie

If you want to start getting a little more intimate with Foodzie, first make sure that you are following their guidelines:

  • No high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, antibiotics, nitrates or artificial colors or flavors. Foodzie calls for “clean ingredients“.
  • You need to be a legit business, following health regulations and with insurance.
  • The food is a creation of your own.
  • Whatever you make, is made by or in front of you.
  • You need to be able to package whatever it is that you’re selling.

Think you’ve got what it takes, and are willing to trade exposure for the 20% cut that Foodzie gets? All you have to do is apply.

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As part of Upserve’s family of more than 10,000 restaurants, The Chef is Restaurant Insider’s secret weapon in the kitchen. As a restaurant expert in all things marketing, menu building, management, training and more, restaurateurs trust The Chef and the award-winning Restaurant Insider to dish out the ingredients needed to make your business a sweet success.