Christmas Cookies and the packaging

I”ve decided with Christmas fast approaching to refocus the cookie idea and go for Christmas cookie”s that are smaller than the normal Mighty Moa sized cookies, more of a Mini Moa Christmas Cookie Collection.

So because they are smaller I can put a number of them together in some nice packaging and sell them as Christmas Cookies…

Now however it”s a matter of finding the right type of packaging.

Thought about it a bit and got some ideas from existing products, and think that a Tin might be the best way to go…  Searched on Google and rang up a number of places.  However to begin with it look”s like all the tin sellers in this country all seem to sell exactly the same sized tins!  You think there would be a bit of variety.  Ideally I”m looking for a circular tin about 12 – 14cm in diameter and about 12 – 14cm in height as well.

But everyone has tin”s that are either too narrow (about 10cm is the widest), or they then become too short and large (20cm wide but only about 6cm Ce casino en ligne fournit leurs joueurs le plus recent logiciel de casino de Microgaming – programmes de la nouvelle marque Microgaming “Viper”, montrant des graphismes incroyables, en plus de beaucoup plus de 100 jeux de casino a choisir. high).  The right diameter is for a CD or slightly bigger, and of course places do CD holders but again online casino they are only about 1 – 3cm high.

The other problem is the cost.  Some of the tin place”s are not cheap.  Looking around some of the stores I don”t see how some of the manufacturers/shops can make a profit on anything!  If you go to a supermarket/Woolworths you can get a large tin, screen printed, labelled, and filled with chocolates for 5 pounds!   Well they have to be ordering in massive quantities, the chocolates are probably made in China as well and the shop”s are probably selling them at a loss.  That”s the only way I can explain it!  I mean some of the jars/tins are so cheap it seems I”m wondering whether I should buy them from the supermarket, empty them out and relabel them, it might be a cheaper option!

Worth checking out some other places so, went on a trip up to the local IKEA and the nearby large Tesco to see what they had.   They have some cookie jars that look quite good and reasonably priced, however they are all made out of glass, which won”t be very good if I”m posting the cookies.  Too heavy for postage costs and too easy to break.  Hmm..

Next stop was every single Poundland type shop in my local area.   Nope nothing really suitable there..

Back to the drawing board/internet/thinking solutions..

UK Legal Regulations (and how precise they are)

Sigh.  Running a business in this country sure is not meant to be easy!  I have been in semi-regular contact with the Local Council food agency (See Label Approval) to confirm what’s actually required on the labels.   I needed to do this recently as I’ve been trying a couple of other cookie types out, which have different ingredients.  Therefore I wanted to be sure that the information required on the labelling would be correct.

A casual comment in the email – “If you make larger packets you may fall into weights and measures regulations regarding packaged biscuits – at this weight you are fine” made me go “what?” and find out more information.   The next follow up email had this to say – “Oops bomb shell! Right I have attached the necessary order. Head straight for Schedule 1 Article 3. Basically you will have to sell by prescribed weights or multiples there of.”

Weights and Measures Act 1988

As you can see from the attached PDF, it’s correct.   The UK in their wisdom have regulated that if you sell particular products you are only allowed to sell them in the weight’s specified.

It even varies from food type to type.  So as described in the appendix, if your selling pre-packaged biscuits, once they weight over 85g your only allowed to sell them in amounts of 100g, 125g, 150g, 200g, 250g, 300g, or a multiple of 100g.

So if you have a bag of biscuits and labelled them as 170g is illegal!   How crazy is that?  I’m sure there is some reason for it.. and it’s not excessive legislation… but at the moment I can’t really think why the Government would want to protect us from 170g packaged biscuits.

The Vogon’s could learn a thing or two from this.

Second Greenwich Market for selling cookies


This time I was a bit more prepared, so went off down to the Greenwich Market, with lots of boring things but gear you need for a market (like clips, change, plates for samples, cookie jar, fairy lights, cloths, signage, etc etc).

However due to Greenwich being truely miles away from where I live, and London trains being useless I arrived there about an hour later or so than I should have..  I was still able to get a stall, but they set me up in the very far corner of the market, stuck away in a place where not many people would walk by.  Sigh.

Still I got casino pa natet everything nicely setup and presented, even with a New Zealand flag (for the Moa connection), which then meant that people then came along and commented on the Australian flag..  Ah, the education levels need improving!

After a few people walked by, I decided the best way about things was to be proactive, so broke up a few cookies and put them on a tray so people could get a sample to try.
Though I still didn”t have many people coming over to my corner, once it got closer to lunchtime as well more people seemed to just walk straight down the middle of the Market place and queue up for the hot food sold by a Brazilian place, and another queue at a Chinese food place.
Hmm, my cookie”s probably work better with a morning or afternoon tea crowd. What do you think of “Have a cookie with that coffee” as a slogan?

I did get an interesting crowd of people buying my cookies though, from students, to working professional women, to older ladies. As you can see though being in the corner probably wasn”t the best of places.  So I didn”t sell anywhere as many as I hoped I might be able to.   Still learnt some valuable lessons..  Turn up and get a good spot, and that maybe concentrating on selling to the coffee shops directly is a better way to go at the moment.

First Greenwich Market

Seeing i’ve got a massive batch of cookies, I now want to try and sell them!   To see what people think of them in person I’ve decided to go to a market and try selling some there.   Took a train down to Greenwich Market.

I had called up a few days earlier and spoke to the Market people (though they were hard to get a hold of).  They have just started doing a Wednesday market, and they have made it a Food type market.  Apparently it’s only been going for a few months and they are trying to make it a bit bigger.   The person I spoke to said that they don’t have any space for traders though on Thursday, and they are pretty booked out on Saturday and Sunday.  The weekend day’s are obviously there most popular/busiest days.

So turned up on Wednesday, seeing it took me an hour to get there I got there a bit late..  But managed to track down the woman looking after the market.  She was a bit surprised that I turned up there late-ish, then proceeded to tell me that I should have contacted them earlier, and I said how I did.   So she went and got me a tray to setup.  She also kept saying how they only let you setup once and view how well your presentation is on that day as to whether or not they will let you back again.  Apparently a number of markets require you to write essays and fill out different forms.  There they just take you on and see how your stall looks, product looks, etc.

First stall at Greenwich Market

So I started to setup..  and then got all worried about the doing a good presentation.   Wanted to talk to the woman more about what she meant.. and of course she had completed vanished.  She said she had gone off to talk to a friend and then never came back!

As you can see my initial stall wasn’t quite that well prepared!  🙂

So after waiting around for a good number of hours and waiting for the woman to turn up..  She never did!  I gave up and went home.   Once home I went down the road to the Indian shop down the road to buy some cloth to use for my stall the next time!

London Bakery

Well today I went back over to the London Bread and Bake Company to make a massive batch of cookies.  The guy”s there helped me out a bit, but not heaps.   I had to scale up all the ingredients so instead of measuring out in grams I was measuring in kilograms!  Used up two kilograms of chocolate!

I ended up making two different type”s of batches.  One which was the larger batch was all chocolate chip cookies, both large and small sized ones.  While the second batch was for the Jelly Bean cookies.

Once I got everything measured, and then mixed in a massive mixing bowl (about a quarter the size of me!), the dough then was flattened down to a more reasonable shape before using my cutters to cut it into the right sizes for the different cookie shapes.

However it was once we came to the oven that the problems arose.  They had two oven”s there..  The first oven was a standard large bread oven (well they aren”t called the London Bread company for nothing!), however I know from previous experience that I can”t cook the cookies in an oven like that.   The temperature is too variable and the cooking area is too large.   The second oven was the only option.  This oven was a walk in oven.  Yes i”m serious, I could walk into the whole oven it was that big.  The heating elements were on the side wall.  Now after talking with one of the helpful guys there I vaguely understood him.  (Most of the workers there were all from different countries that weren”t England, so there English wasn”t 100%)   I tried to check if the oven had a fan within it, as that”s what”s required for my cookies… and from vague hand signals and telling me that the thing in the roof of the oven spins around I online casino thought it was ok.   However after I while I realised what it was.  You load up a whole lot of trays and put them on this big tray holder that goes into the oven, in there it hooks onto this metal thing in the roof.  Once the oven start”s it then turns the whole tray around in the oven.

So when I took the cookies out after the normal cooking time that I do for them, they were all white and standard dough looking, in other word”s they hadn”t really been cooked at all!  Also nobody really seemed to understand the temperature that the oven was set at.  Sigh.   So when the baker guy that I was dealing with came back he took a look and said how they have to go back in for longer.. So back they went..  Of course how much longer he had no idea, oh and then he left!

So they were in the oven for probably three time”s as long as they normally would be.   Once I took them out a couple of times.. I finally pulled them out when they were all brown and cookie coloured looking.

So they were the right colour, but they were then too hard because they had ended up being overcooked for a bit too long.   This oven stuff is difficult, each place I go to has a different type and they all make quite a big difference to how the cookie”s turn out.  It”s like driving a car and each time you drive it there”s a different engine inside, you have no idea if it”s going to be too weak or too powerful.

Still all a learning experience, but I don”t think I”ll go back there.   But it did mean they I have approximately 100 cookies made and wrapped now!

Label Approval?

Well I was reading an article on the BBC about “Breaking into Supermarkets“, and they mentioned the Waitrose meet the buyer process. So went and had a look at that details in Do you want to supply Waitrose..

One of the sections they mention on Waitrose, is has your labelling been legally approved by your local Council.

As I found out over a year ago in England this is a bit of “Hitchhikers Guide” process. (See Nightmares” href=”http://www.mightymoa.co.uk/2007/03/07/labelling/” target=”_self”>Labelling? for more details) Because I live in the lovely borough of Camden. I call them up after looking up the number on the website. Initially I was told to ring Trading Standards, mobile casino which I did. However they then said they can only give general advice and that I need to ring the Food Safety team of the Local Council. Sigh, so back to Camden again. The woman that I talk to then tells me that the process of any request, etc. will be fulfilled anytime between now and up to 8 working days. Yes 8 working days! So pretty much two weeks for a response that would probably take ten minutes or less to someone who knows what they are talking about.

I log my request and proceed to wait.. I wonder if anyone will get back to me. When I did this last year no one ever phoned me, and that was over a year ago..

Speciality and Fine Food Fair

As previously suggested I went along to the Speciality and Fine Food Fair today, it sure was very interesting. Saw a number of well packaged and very tasty foods available there. (Not for sale though, but lots of free samples which was great!) Lots of different types of foods there, ranging from tasty lemonade, natural beers, sauces, spices, crisps, biscuits, breads, hot chocolates, the list went on and on. While there were also a lot of other ancillary organisations there as well, like labelling companies, packaging makers and food magazines.

Fine Food Fair

Found a few competitors, checked out some of their products and pricing. Some of their products look really good and helped give me a few idea”s of my own.

While wandering around I also had a Per la sua simplicita delle regole ed abilita nel gioco gratis Blackjack e il nostro gioco favoritoCarte online William hill -giocare con un bonus fino a 600€Giochi di carte Online su William Hill. minor brain wave, walked past a Jelly Bean Factory stand and went over to have a conversation with one of the guys there about putting Jelly Bean”s in cookies. To begin with I wasn”t even sure if you could put Jelly Bean”s in, I mean wouldn”t they melt at the oven temperatures. But no, apparently they melt just a bit but not that much.

He said that they had done a trial run with one of the bigger biscuit manufacturers, and it had worked fine but that nothing further had come from it. Does that mean no one really liked Jelly Bean cookies? Well definitely going to try making some of those myself, could be a good difference to the standard Smartie/M M cookies.

Definitely a day well spent, lots of ideas and brochures picked up which I”m sure will be handy later on.

Trying to find Suppliers!?

It”s now a matter of ideally finding a supplier that can help make the cookies for me.  However it doesn”t seem like an easy place to start.  I rang up and spoke briefly to the nice people at Dough Dough (Muffin makers), as they get someone else to make their muffins as well.  They said it took a while to find the right supplier for them, one that had a decent product, good price and didn”t want to deliver the product by the forklift because they want you to have that many of them!   I remember calling up a few places a good year or two ago and one of the places wanted for me to have a minimum order of over 1000 cookies!   Considering I haven”t sold anywhere near close to that at all it would be a bit of a order getting that many and then trying to sell them all at once before they expired!

They did make a couple of good suggestions about trying Food from Britain people, which led me to the British Cake and Confectionary Alliance, which have now become the Food and Drink Federation.  Though I called too late for them, will try again tomorrow.  Also they suggested the Speciality and Fine Food Fair, which have a look on the net is on in a couple of days!  How”s that for good timing.  Normally I find out about these things two days after the event!  So will be going along to the Fair to check out suppliers and hear some good advice from many of the exhibitors and shows there.

Business Plan

Finally got around to finishing the (draft) version of my Business Plan.

I modelled it on the basic’s of the business plan used by Coffee Republic.  They put out a great book about starting a business called “Anyone can do It”.  I recommend you get it and have a read if your thinking starting a business.

I’m pretty slow at doing this, and should have finished it many months ago.   Though finally got it all sorted, sending it out to some friends for advice.

Mighty Moa kicks off

Hey there,

and Welcome to the Mighty Moa story, here I”m hoping to posts the ups and downs (though I hope there won”t be many of those) of getting a business off and started in the UK.

If you look at the earlier posts you casino can see some background back story..  and also realised that along the way I changed the Business name.   Market research does help sometimes!

Well enjoy and your welcome to give me any feedback that might help!