When my wife and I decided we wanted to get into the craft show/ farmers market vending we spent a great deal of time coming up with ideas for our first product line. We spent over a year planning and debating what we should sell, and it was time well spent. Any new vendor needs to find a product that fits there needs and captures some market share. Do not rush into production with your first idea.
Our first thoughts where to get into odd produce like purple beans, off beat herbs and other oddities. After a few weeks looking over the seed websites and walking around farmers markets we decided against it because the spoilage rate was high and there were already several traditional and nontraditional produce vendors meaning we would have to complete on price to pry consumers away from other vendors in a crowded field. Both would hurt our profit.
After that we investigated apple and berry production. While the marketplace was not as completive as it is in the produce section there was still some, meaning that price point was still a problem but not as much, and spoilage was still a moderate problem. The reason we decided against this for our first venture into vending was because there is a 2-5 year delay as your bushes and trees start to bear fruit. We wanted to be operational in a two-year period.
We kept examining the markets around us and noticed a lack of dry goods so we decided on flour and cornmeal. This product was unique to our area and we are the only vendor selling it at many events we go to. The biggest hurdle we run into is get people to try it and that due to its unique nature most customers need to spend time debating on purchasing it. This can lead to a 2-3 market cycle delay in them buying. Everyone knows what to do with garlic and already loves it, so they will readily pay 2$ for a good clove of it. Barley flour is more off beat and requires, in most cases, that the consumer be educated on the product before parting with 6$ to take a bag home.
In considering a product to bring to market I would recommend the following be looked at: current market trends, spoilage rate, profit/loss risk and time to market. Find a product that you are comfortable with and evaluate it against those four factors until you find the right fit for your area. The last and more untangle factor is passion. I grew up growing wheat on the family farm, so flour felt right to me. Find what feels right to you!
After settling on a product investigate what permits and such you need to sale or produce your product in your state. I can tell you first hand that if you call my states department of agriculture and tell them you want to meal flour they will give you a 4-month run around. Be sure that you are doing everything by the book. Fines are steep and will wash away any progress you have made.
Next topic: Your first market!