Zimbabwe currently has multiple challenges that show no sign of getting better anytime soon. Now while we may want to moan about these problems those of a mind can seize the opportunity. One opportunity that can be seized in light of current challenges is the ready-made food business. This is distinct from a takeaway or fast food and is based on providing what can best be described as home-cooked meals ready to heat and/or eat.
You really don’t need anyone to tell you that power is currently Zimbabwe’s biggest problem. ZESA has resorted to load shedding in light of supply-side challenges. Alternative energy is also problematic with the preferred alternatives diesel for generators and liquid petroleum gas both in short supply. With that being said the solution of having someone employed full time at home to do these tasks when power is available is also proving difficult due to the weight of employment costs as the nation battles with inflation. Without help in the home time in itself also becomes a critical factor. Finally shopping for goods has become an incredibly risky practice with prices behaving arbitrarily. All these factors come together to present a golden opportunity for those gifted in the culinary arts.
There are a few approaches that you can employ in this business. You can provide the food pre-cooked and frozen or preserved for reheating. You can provide the food hot and ready to eat. The number of factors will determine which you can do better such as the capacity to store these foods. Wisdom says offer both if you can.
The market is quite wide and as such you have many opportunities in terms of what you can provide. You can focus on the type of food you offer here for different segments and needs. Some that come to mind are healthy cuisine, gourmet food, family meals and other speciality requirements. Groups who require special dietary considerations such as gluten-free, vegan and Banting diets can work very well for you.
If you are just going to package food this business may not work very well for you. The value is in providing food that people have difficulty coming across or creating on a regular basis. Providing ordinary meals here and there has its value too but if you want to excel go for meals people remember and want to eat again.
Packaging and delivery
Among the key considerations specific to your business type you will have to look at issues of packaging and delivery of food. It’s easy to say deliver the food to the customers home but consider the challenges with access to fuel. You will need to work out a way to get people to pick up their meals and preferably in one place.
Food safety training is key. Food is delicate and it is very important to use best practice methods when handling, processing and storing food.
You will absolutely need good social media and on the ground, networking skills to make the most of this business. A good social media page that both showcases your food and your story will help you a long way. A blog is also a great idea. Use of images and video are very important in this regard. Showing people your process also makes the decision easier for them.
Ideally, you want a situation where your clients become regular subscribing clients for a guaranteed or at least predictable income. This would be the best model for you to strive for. You can also venture into work lunches as a way to penetrate the market and eventually work your way into people’s homes. This would be ideal because you can capture a single group of fairly homogenous people in one go and build from there.
This article has been focused on the ready-made food business and I have left out some elements previously discussed in other food business related articles. You can read here to learn more. This opportunity is easiest implemented as an addition to an existing good business but there’s no reason it will not work stand alone.