food startup incubators

So, you have a great idea for a new food product. What’s the next step? Even if you haven’t been following our blog series, you can probably guess that developing a successful new food product is no piece of cake. It takes a lot of money, time, space, and expertise. You do have a variety of choices when it comes to getting your food startup off the ground. Perhaps you’ve heard of food startup incubators and university food labs. What do they offer? What are the pros and cons of each?

In this week’s blog, HSR Associates will compare your options. We will explain why using incubators and food labs can be costly and limiting, and may keep you from achieving lasting success. We’ll also talk about why it’s important to use a food product development consultancy. It’s the best option for getting production, marketing, and ongoing support all under one roof.

Food Startup Incubators

Food incubators are also known as shared kitchens. They are a big trend all over the US. If you already know how to make your product, you can rent space in a food incubator and use their kitchen equipment to produce it. Food startup incubators can be helpful in making the switch from a home kitchen to an industrial one. However, there are lots of downsides to relying on a shared kitchen for your food startup.

  • Regulations. Health regulations and labeling requirements often limit how much food someone can produce in an incubator. That means you probably won’t be able to make enough product for sale. If you want to mass produce in the long term, a food incubator is not the best bet.
  • High cost. Incubators charge by the hour to rent their space and equipment. A lot of new startups simply can’t afford the cost, especially when it doesn’t come with any marketing or other services. In addition, some food startup incubators charge a flat fee but want a stake in future earnings. This can put a big dent in your profits.
  • No marketing. An incubator may be fine for initial proof of concept, but it cannot offer any help in putting your product out there. Your product needs commercialization, production and marketing, and much more to make it a success on the shelves. Food incubators give you the kitchen, but you have to bring your product to the marketplace. It’s much better to find a service that can do both.

University Food Labs

Food labs look a lot like food startup incubators, but they’re typically run by colleges and universities rather than other businesses. They are staffed by undergraduate and graduate students who perfect your recipe using high-end commercial equipment. Sounds great, right? But there are definitely downsides to using a well-funded university food lab:

  • High cost. Just like with food incubators, food lab services come at a high cost. Their fees and hourly rates can easily exceed $20,000 for a project that doesn’t include any marketing. This kind of cost isn’t reasonable for most food startups.
  • No mass production. Food labs can rarely provide mass production for your product. Like incubators, they’re meant to help perfect your commercial recipe… and then leave you on your own to find a copacker and a way to mass produce your product.
  • No marketing. Food labs cannot provide anything for you beyond the initial commercial recipe. There’s so much more that goes into producing a successful food product. Wouldn’t it be great if the university’s business school and food lab could partner together? They don’t… but services like this DO exist!

Food Product Development Consultants

Incubators and university food labs are great for proving your concept, but not much else. You need someone to help you produce your recipe AND market your final product. The process is extremely complex, so it’s important to start out from the beginning with the help of an expert food product development consultant.

Only a comprehensive food product development consultancy like HSR Associates offers development and marketing under one roof. This includes food lab/kitchen services as well as marketing strategy, materials, and research. This also includes partnering with food brokers and distributors, getting placement on the shelf with consumer support programs, designing beautiful packaging that meets federal requirements, and raising ongoing awareness through trade shows, PR, social media, and more.

Why Work With HSR Associates?

HSR Associates provides comprehensive consulting, from the kitchen to the marketplace. Here’s just a taste of what we can do for you…

  • Food and beverage concept development
  • Brand development and logo design
  • Recipe refinement and commercialization, working with the highest qualified chefs and food technologists
  • Food package design and labeling
  • Secure the nutritional facts statement and list of ingredients
  • Obtain UPC codes and administer code assignments
  • Select a qualified co-packer suited for your needs and budget

Once production samples have been made, we can:

  • Produce sales materials and an effective food marketing plan tailored to your product, which may include strategies like the direct to consumer business model
  • Sell your product through our nationwide network of food brokers and distributors
  • Manage the introduction and sales roll-out
  • Secure space at food and beverage trade shows (and help man the booth)
  • Make headquarter and customer sales calls

Contact Us Today for Food Startup Success

As you can see, food startup incubators and university food labs can help you get started with your recipe, but leave you high and dry when it comes to the rest of the development process. The food marketing consultants at HSR ASSOCIATES specialize in developing new food products and bringing them to market. We provide all the services necessary, from Kitchen To Marketplace. Contact us today at

More great ideas to come from our food product development experts! Stay tuned…………..