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The Country Enterprise Handbook
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Cooking
...For Paying Guests
...For Functions
...For Pubs
>..For Retail

To sell into the retail trade is the most challenging aspect of food production.

Here your product is scrutinised by shoppers, shopkeepers and health control officials. The product, its packaging and shelf life must all stand rigorous tests. The Belgian pate that sits in the cold counter of any grocer's will remain stable for weeks if kept trimmed. Although the manufacturers point out that the product should be sold quickly the shopkeeper knows that it will last should it not sell well. A pate made without the factory facilities, the antiseptic forms of manufacture and preservatives, will certainly age most unpleasantly.

The products you offer must be able to survive worse treatment than you would give them at home in your own kitchen. All packaging and labelling must conform to current EEC rulings. There are all kinds of different instructions being effected and discussed and unless you wish to fall foul of officialdom, you have to keep up. Manufacturers of various goods have to be registered. If you aim to produce for the retail trade then it is worth seeing your local standards officer before you commit yourself to expensive packaging. One of the traps that newcomers to this type of cooking are often tempted into is to try and produce a product that is identical to a competitor's.

A factory-made product will look different. Anyway part of the appeal of your product to the consumer is often that they are buying something special. Some 'dairy' fudge contains additives that are bought commercially in vast bulk. It is this that gives commercial fudge a specific appearance. Without the additives your fudge will look different. It will look like 'old-fashioned' fudge. Fortunately, that is sold for a higher price than the com- mercial kind anyway. But if the market you approach says it wants the first type, you must gracefully decline unless you intend to set up a confectionery factory.