Do your own deli food
From sausage rolls to scotch eggs, making your own deli food has its benefits. Lauren Phillips discusses the perks of DIY with Tim Belcher of Bloomfields Fine Food.
It might seem like a daunting undertaking at first but making your own food on site to sell on your deli counter and in your café can be a worthwhile decision – with the right planning.
Bloomfields Fine Food makes its own scotch eggs, sausage plaits, quiches, cakes and many more items for its three deli-café sites, in Oxfordshire, Swindon and Wiltshire.
This has given its outlets a real point of difference, says co-owner Tim Belcher, who runs the business with wife Sue.
“Multiples don’t make their own deli-products on-site,” he says. “We’re famous in our area for our deli products and people come to us especially for something different.”
There is also the added value and theatre that freshly-made in-store products can bring to your shop. “When our sausage plaits come out of the oven everything, from the smell to the look of them, really creates a theatre in the deli which our customers love,” says Belcher.
But the biggest attraction of in-house production is the sizeable profit margin it offers.
The Belchers aim to make 60-70% profit on products they make themselves, which also has to cover overheads such as labour costs. This is a big difference compared to the 40% they target on bought-in products.
While quiches are a classic product to offer, they also provide an easy and versatile solution any leftover cheese or vegetables close to their sell-by date.
Producing items in-house also allows the retailer to have more control over product quality and quantity. Bloomfields’ popular sausage plaits and scotch eggs are made using local free-range pork, which Belcher says provides traceability and uniqueness angles when selling them.
But the profit doesn’t come without some practicalities to consider. Belcher says quantity control and portion sizes must be managed during production to limit wastage. The retailer must also jump through numerous legal hoops and maintain designated areas in the kitchen to handle different ingredients, like raw meat.
This can be tricky with limited space and expanding or refurbishing can be a costly exercise.
Bloomfields refurbished one of its sites and installed a product development kitchen to help it make larger quantities.
Then costs must be factored in for staff training and any specialist equipment that must be bought.
Not all deli items can be easily made on-site, either. The business doesn’t make its own pies or bread because of the kit required, such as fiddly pie machines and commercial baking ovens.
Bloomfields’ tips to getting started:
• Realise demand. Gauge with your customers that this is what they want and what products they want from you.
• Get your profit margin right. Calculate all the ingredients required to make sure you’re not ordering too much.
• Portion control is paramount. You can be generous with your portions – just make sure you take it into account against your margins.
• Remember secondary costs like staff training and buying any specialist equipment needed.
This story appeared in the August issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.
Read more of the latest news from Fine Food Digest here