Category Archives: Business of Baking

Shelf life testing for your food product



Shelf life testing for your food product.

Getting your product shelf life tested for your new food product can be a bit daunting. Any research you do is bound to pull lots of technical, scientific terms that won’t mean much to you unless you have a chemistry degree!

When I was getting the shelf life of my shortbread biscuits certified it took me a while to get my head around things so I thought I’d summarise some key points here, just to help you get started.

Basically, you need to know your product’s shelf life, so you know what expiry date you need to put on your products once they’ve been produced and packaged. Your product expiry date will be expressed either as a ‘use by’ date, or a ‘best before end’ date.

Use by date

This must be used for foods that are high risk and highly perishable. This would include dairy, meat products. These food products are likely to deteriorate really quickly and would pose a risk to health, lead to food poisoning. The ‘Use By’ date expires at midnight on the date shown, after which the food is deemed unsafe and it would be a criminal offence to sell it.

Best Before/Best Before End

This kind of expiry date relates more to the quality of the food. This is the date at which the taste or experience of eating that product may begin to decline. The food will still be okay to eat after  this date but just won’t taste at its best. The rules change for the specific shelf life, but if your product is 3 months and under, you should include the day/month/year, 3-18 months at least month/year and for over 18 months at least the year when printing your expiry date. This will apply to most baked products.

What to prepare before you contact a lab

To get your product shelf life tested you’ll need to approach a shelf life testing company or lab. Some producers try to work out their products shelf life themselves but if its really important that you get your shelf life tested properly under lab conditions by experts. If you ever plan to wholesale your products or get SALSA/BRC accreditation this will be a minimum requirement.

Before you approach the testing company there are few bits of information you should have prepared:

  • Completed recipe for your product with full ingredients information available.
  • A solid idea of how your product will be packaged ie vacuum packed pouch, cello bag or some kind of box.
  • A good idea of how/where your product will be sold and consumed.
  • the cooking/baking process you’ll be using and under what conditions ie in a domestic kitchen or commercial production environment.

If you are looking for the testing lab to give you recommendations on how you can lengthen your shelf life or any other product development advice then be clear about this from the beginning. This will help to ensure that you get all the information you need.

What to do next

Once you’ve pulled together your information, then its a good idea to contact a few different labs to check if they can help you, if they specialise or can cater for your type of product, their prices and what you’ll get in terms of completed report, additional advice and guidance etc. It’s a good idea to get a few quotes and compare them to see which one offer the best value. Also take into account the vibe you got from your initial discussions. Did it seem like they understood your product and your future plans? Do they take the time to explain things to you in a way that you understand and can take action?

Lastly, do remember that if you change any of the ingredients in the recipe or significantly change the production process or packaging for example at later time, then you may need to do some re-testing to recheck shelf life.

More shelf life testing resources:

1. If you’re looking to find a lab to work with, there is a list of shelf life testing labs available here on the Food Hub Directory.

2. This section of the Food & Drink Federation Website also has helpful resources.

3. You can also get more insight on the topic of shelf life testing for your food product from my facebook live video training. Watch the video here.

nila holden facebook live product shelf life testing for your food business


4. If you’d like to this receive this information as a free 3 page Shelf Life Testing checklist emailed to you then sign up here and I’ll send it straight to your inbox.

nila holden shelf life testing for your food product checklist

Happy Baking!

Nila x


If you liked this blog post then why not sign up to ‘The Perfect Bake’ my weekly round up of tips, tricks & training to help you along your business journey – delivered straight into your inbox.



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If you would like some more support and training to help you grow your food business  then do head over to our facebook group where an active community of food business owners regularly come together to learn how to grow and develop their food businesses.


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Kitchen Table Entrepreneur. Helping Food & Drink Start ups succeed.


How to price your products for a profitable baking business


When you first launch your baking business or go from being a hobby baker to a business baker, it can be hard to work out your prices. I remember when I took redundancy and started my iced biscuit business all of a sudden it became really important that I got my prices spot on, that I covered all the costs because I needed to make sure that my business was profitable in order to earn a living.

If I hadn’t taken these important steps, I’m not sure my business would have survived the first couple of years. It would have been easy to keep my prices low to keep the orders books full. But ultimately I wouldn’t have made any proper money. It’s not a nice feeling when you get to the end of the year and do your tax return and find you’ve been working hard all year for pennies.

If you’re not a baker but have a creative business where you make handmade products, then the principles below will count for you too.

It is possible to charge fair prices and run a profitable business by following some key principles:

1. Define your business model.


The first step to working out your pricing takes you right back to the basics of your business. What sort of baking business do you want to have?

As you’ll see in the slide below, you can sell 3 cakes per week for £100 per cake and turnover £300 or you can sell 30 cakes per week for £10 per cake and turnover £300 per week.

Would you like a premium baking business, where you make fewer hand made cakes, but at a higher value? You will need fewer customers, but they will be making a more considered purchase so you will really need to show the value of what you offer.


Would you like a volume based baking business where you need more customers buying at a lower price. This is likely to be a more impulse based buying decision, based on cost more than anything. So an easier purchase.

There’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s just a persona decision. Both businesses make the same amount of money, but are very different in the way they offer their goods and services and different in the way they price their products.


2. Get comfortable with charging your worth


Common things I hear food entrepreneurs say:

-I don’t include a salary for myself as that would make my products too expensive.

-I could never charge that much, no one will buy my products.

-I feel uncomfortable charging those prices. I personally would never pay that much!

-I know that’s what I should be charging but I usually charge less to make sure I get the sale.

It’s not unusual as an entrepreneur to feel uncomfortable with the idea of charging what your worth. But to move forward in your baking business, you have to, at a basic level accept that your products are worth a fair price.

It’s tempting to keep your prices low, which keeps the orders coming in and makes you feel like you’re growing and making money. But ultimately, this is not profitable and not sustainable.

If your baking business is to grow and flourish, you have to get comfortable with charging a fair price, where all the costs have been factored in. It is possible to charge a fair price and grow your sales, as long as your customers understand the VALUE of buying from you. To do this, you need to continually communicate & deliver VALUE to your customers.

3. Use the Pricing Formula: Overheads + Hourly Rate + Raw Materials + Value = Profitable Price



To give a fair price for your products, you need to include a cost to cover your time (HOURLY RATE).

You also need to cover any costs like website, electricity, telephone, premises costs, insurance etc etc. Some of these would be apportioned for the amount of time you actually use them for the business (OVERHEADS).

Then the costs related to actually making your products (RAW MATERIALS).

Lastly, you need include an additional amount (normally called a mark up, but here we’ll call it VALUE). This does a few things, firstly it gives you a buffer in case of price rises, or if there are any costs you haven’t include elsewhere. If you have a ‘hand made’ business then this mark up will be important and will allow you to offer the ‘add ons’, personalisation, high level of customer service, giving your customers an exclusive buying experience. I find that it helps to list everything out and then allocate costs to each of the headers and upload them into a spreadsheet.

4. Do a reality check



Once you’ve got the costings drafted in your spreadsheet, its time to do a REALITY CHECK

How do the prices look? How do they compare with the industry average, or prices in your local area, or against your competitors prices?

Do they seem too low? Have you properly costed in your time? If you had to produce 10 of your products in certain timeframe, how long would it take? Would it feel like a fair reward for your time and effort once you’d covered all your costs?

Do they seem too high? How and why does the price differ from the industry average, from competitors prices? Can you justify this? How will you clearly communicate this to your customers?

Have you allowed enough of a buffer in case of price rises for example?

What about corporation tax, VAT (if applicable), and postage – how will you incorporate these costs? Make any adjustments needed in your spreadsheet.

5. Time to ditch the hobby baker mindset.



It’s really important that you adopt the right mindset. Because you’re running a business. Yes, to be able to do something you love & put your gifts out into the world. But if you’re serious about running a profitable business, then you need to make the shift and adopt a business mindset.

And get clear and comfortable with the financials, with costings, and the idea of working to make a PROFIT.

Sometimes this may mean that you need to make tough decisions about what’s working and what’s not. What you keep and what you discard. What makes money and what does not.

This is not always easy because we are human, emotionally tied to our work, to our craft, to our skill and our products.

But remember, by ditching the stuff that doesn’t stack up financially, this leaves you free to concentrate on creating products that are profitable.

So be brave, be flexible and most importantly – take action.


Food Entrepreneur Academy

So I hope that has helped you think through how you will go about pricing your products. I get asked so many questions by bakers, cake makers and other food entrepreneurs about pricing, how to get more customers and all the other areas involved in running a food business. So I decided to put together a library of resources for female food entrepreneurs – to help you launch, grow or scale your food business and achieve results fast.

As part of the monthly membership, you’ll get monthly masterclasses, group coaching support from me, and lots, lots more.


I really wish I’d had access to a membership like this when I started my baking business. It would have helped me to get really clearly, saved a lot of confusion and ultimately helped me to become profitable a lot quicker.

If you’re serious about launching a profitable food business then head over to my website to get more info on the Academy.

Happy Baking..!

Nila x





Pantone Colour of the Year 2018: What opportunities for your baking business?

pantone colour of the year 2018 ultraviolet marketing ideas pinterest

 What is a pantone colour?

Pantone are the experts on colour. There’s a whole institute full of colour experts who’s job it is to catalogue, code, promote and champion colour. Lots of designers from the fashion, home, interiors and gifting industries look to the experts at Pantone as the authority on all things colour. The institute has catalogued over 1,800 colours, each one has a code and a name.

Every year, the Pantone Institute announces its colour of the year. Selected by a panel of experts mapping trends from popular culture, fashion, technology, food, and interiors the colour inevitably filters down into design trends. Pantone Colour of the Year for 2018  is Ultra Violet. It’s a real marmite colour, purple being a colour that most people either love or hate.

According to the Pantone Institute, Ultra violet is a regal colour, the colour of the Queen. A mystical colour, the colour of crystal balls. A futuristic colour, the colour that NASA uses to map space.  A cosmic colour. A colour of non conformists like the artists Prince and David Bowie who both sadly passed away in 2017.

pantone colour of the year ultraviolet macarons

What does this mean for your food business?

Well in 2018 , buyers from all walks of life – home and interiors, gifting, food will be sourcing purple/ultra violet products.

Features editors from all the top print publications and online sites from weddings to interiors, to food and gifting will be looking for purple/violet products, designs, & content.

Purple / Ultra violet will be a huge trend and will filter down into sourcing guides, designs briefs and buying guides.

How can you – as a food business – make the most of this opportunity?

By creating purple themed products or content eg:

Purple / Ultraviolet themed products – wedding & celebration cakes, wedding favours, iced biscuits, purple themed confectionery.

nila holden iced biscuits pantone colour of the year 2018 ultra violet

Recipes, tutorials featuring purple ingredients – think aubergine, red cabbage, berries, juices and smoothies.


Ultraviolet Pantone Colour of the Year 2018 Marketing ideas for your food or creative business vegetable

Blogs, articles focusing on the health benefits of purple food containing anthocyanins & antioxidants

ultra violet pantone colour of the year purple food nila holden

How can you use this content to gain exposure for your food business?

Why not develop a bespoke range of purple themed products eg wedding or celebration cakes, iced biscuits, lollipops, macarons?

Take really good quality images of your food products that are either made in purple or contain purple ingredients and share.

Promote your purple themed content on your social media channels, not forgetting to include appropriate hashtags

Pitch your purple related content with features editors of print publications and online blogs too.

pantone colour of the year 2018 ultra violet nila holden figs

Don’t forget the messages around purple being a cosmic colour, a futuristic colour, a spiritual colour. These are all trends that may hit the high street in big way in 2018. Is there some way you incorporate these themes into your food products, recipes or content?

pantone colour of the year cosmic donuts nila holden

As we’ve seen in previous years, Pantone Colour of the Year has the potential to really capture the imagination of designers, artists and creatives and filter down in a major way.  Food businesses can play a really big part in this.

How could you capitalise on this opportunity…?

Do you have any bespoke products you already do, or could produce in purple?

Can you think of any recipes you could pull together featuring purple foods?

Let me know your ideas in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you.

Nila x

Ultraviolet Pantone Colour of the Year 2018 Marketing ideas for your food or creative business vegetables


pantone colour of the year 2018 ultraviolet nila holden

If you liked this blog post then why not sign up to ‘The Perfect Bake’ my weekly round up of tips, tricks & training to help you along your business journey – delivered straight into your inbox.



Click here to sign up


If you would like some more in depth training on how your food business can get involved in and capitalise on Pantone Colour of the Year then do head over to our facebook group where an active community of food business owners regularly come together to learn how to grow and develop their food businesses.


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Kitchen Table Entrepreneur. Helping Food & Drink Start ups succeed.