How to Create a Gift Basket Filled with Food

While your business can specialize in a specific type of gift basket or cover all possible themes, it is best to have an understanding of what is involved with each theme.

Food themed gift baskets are some of the most common available and can include any type of edibles that your clients want. They carry the largest appeal for potential customers and present a wide variety of combinations you can make available in your baskets.

What Qualifications Are Needed?

First things first, creating, and selling food themed gift baskets does not require specific training. If anything, the main qualification you need to have is a sense of creativity in order to succeed. Anyone can put a bunch of items into a basket and call it a gift, but that is not how you should put together the gift baskets that you plan on selling from your business. Baskets that are designed with some creativity and thought involved in their appearance and content are more likely to appeal to potential customers than those without. This does not mean that all of your baskets need to be extravagant, however. 

Organization skills are another qualification that may be needed for a food gift basket business. The food you choose to include in your gift baskets isn't going to last forever and will have some kind of expiration date. Staying organized and keeping track of your inventory will assist you in monitoring any safety issues, like those mentioned below, from causing problems. Your ability to organize will also ensure that your business stays on track and thrives.

You may have been told at some point in your life that you should do what you love. With that in mind, it could be argued that passion is a qualification needed for making gift baskets. Your passion can affect the quality of the product that you put together, and can show your customers that you care about the quality of your baskets. This can help you build a good relationship with your customers and earn their trust and loyalty.

When it comes to food gift baskets, taste and experience are additional qualifications you may want to have. There may be some contradictory flavors that go well together when it comes to food, but knowing how the foods you include in your baskets will mesh can help with their appeal. As with passion, having some knowledge of taste and experience with food can show in your product.  

Your Customers and Competitors

  • Customers-- By selling food gift baskets, you essentially are choosing to market to the largest customer-base possible. Depending on the specific contents of your baskets, you can essentially narrow your customer-base to whatever you want within the industry's greater base.

With your food gift baskets, you may choose to focus on certain foods in order to appeal to specific niches. This may be certain diets, trends, or types of food. Fruit baskets, a popular choice, are one such option. You can also look to certain events, seasons or times of the year, and occasions if you so choose. Many people look for a gift that matches the needs of the person or the event that it is for, so looking at why and who they are buying the basket can help you decide on what to put in it. For example, an idea for a food gift basket designed for the Valentine's Day may include chocolates and other sweets for someone to give their significant other.

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  • Competitors-- The chances of having an abundance of competitors is rather high. Not only will you be faced with competition from other small gift basket businesses, but large retail companies that offer food gift baskets. Your business competition will also be determined by where your business operates, whether it is within a specific area or online, and what it is that you choose to sell.

When you begin your business, you will most definitely face some challenges in the form of your competitors. The longer a business has been active, the stronger their connections and reputation within their local community and the industry as a whole. In most cases, your competition will have a customer base that is loyal, satisfied, and possibly hesitant to look elsewhere. The way you present your business and goods can make or break your chances of attracting the customers of other gift basket services and turning them into your customers.

The Equipment

Determining what you will need in terms of equipment for your gift basket business will be based on what you want your business to do. There are things that are required for all gift basket businesses and for those that specify in certain themes. Once you decide what you want to offer to your customers and how you want to provide it to them, you can go ahead and choose equipment.

Some of the standard equipment you will need will be strictly for your business's physical location. Even if you sell and market your products solely online, you still need to have a location to work from. Many gift basket business owners choose to work from home, but it is recommended that you have a separate space to work in your house to prevent distractions. Whatever location you plan on working out of, make sure that it will fit your needs in terms of size and comfort. Your space you put together your basket in will need a few essentials, like lighting and a worktable or counter. The tools you use to craft your baskets will also fall under equipment that you need to consider, like a shrink wrapper, glue gun, heat gun, and basic crafting tools. If you have employees on staff to help you make your baskets, you need to make sure that you have at least enough of your basic equipment for those employees to ensure efficiency.

You will also need storage equipment for the items you plan on featuring in your baskets, as well as storage for completed baskets before they are sent out to customers. With food gift baskets, you will most likely need refrigeration to prevent spoilage of perishable items. At minimum, it may be best to have two refrigeration or cooler units; one for individual items and one for completed baskets. In determining the size of the units, you should factor in the amount of stock you plan on having, the time to complete orders, and the size of the space you will operate out of. Additional storage equipment like shelving may also be necessary.

The Supplies

Supplies are a necessary component of your baskets, and choosing items and where they come from should be done with care. Including poor quality items in your food basket can lead to unhappy customers and put your business' reputation at risk. Sometimes this is not always under your control, but your suppliers. Suppliers may change their product for a number of reasons and without the input of you as their client, although they will give notice of any changes. Shopping around for reputable suppliers and thoroughly vetting them before making a decision can prevent future issues. Check reviews and talk with others in the gift basket industry, which can provide valuable insight and assistance as you start your business.

The decision of what foods to put into your baskets are, however, under your control. Just as you should vet your suppliers for reliability and quality, you should do the same for the food itself. There are trade shows for the gift basket industry that offer a chance for you to see new trends, expand your network, and sample items that you may choose to include in your baskets. With food, you may have to actually sample the item to determine if it is worth the investment. The packaging will not tell you if it tastes good, and suppliers may not be honest with you if they are trying to make a sale. It is your business and your opinion that matters in making such decisions.

Standard Operations

The standard operations for a gift basket business depends on what it is you are offering and how big you plan on having your business be. You should take into account what start-up costs, location(s), employees, and other things you might need. There may be an idea of what you want to achieve when you first start putting together your plans for your food basket business, but they might not be feasible in the beginning. Every business has room for growth, and the foundation that you lay early on can greatly affect that.

Your business operations will only be as efficient as you are and can be greatly influenced by a number of factors. The location of your business, for example, can greatly affect your operations in terms of how baskets are made, your storage capabilities, marketing, sales, and production. A physical retail space is not a requirement for your operations, as only about half of all gift basket businesses in general have one.1 Your operation needs to take into account the amount of supplies, inventory, and staff you have on hand to fill orders. The design of your business' operations is what will allow you to fill orders and be successful.

What Safety Issues Should You Take Into Account?

  • With any kind of business that involves the sale and distribution of food products, the biggest safety issue that needs to be addressed is allergies. The safety of your customers and your product should be high on your list of priorities for your food gift basket business. Under the FDA's Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 or FALCPA, you are required to provide the necessary labeling on products that contain major allergens.  As part of your ordering process, you may want to ask about any allergies the recipient of your basket may have and offer alternatives for products that contain those allergens.

  • Quality control is another major safety issue that you should pay special attention to if you are selling food gift baskets. All food items should be checked when they are received from suppliers, before they are placed in baskets, and once more before shipping. Food items tend to draw the attention of critters, like bugs and mice, so you should check for any signs of unwanted pests on a regular basis.  Likewise, you should also check your inventory for any items that are past their expiration date, are damaged, or are simply not up to par with your established standards. Produce, like fruit, and baked goods should be regularly checked for mold, as this can affect all the items it is stored with or signify an issue with your storage conditions.

  • The way items are stored is also incredibly important. It may be obvious to refrigerate perishable products, but some items that are considered to be shelf-stable may also need to be stored in certain conditions to remain fresh. You should maintain any and all storage equipment to prevent any damage from affecting your products. Faulty storage equipment can result in loss of product and money, so monitor your inventory, and make repairs or replacements when necessary.

  • On occasion, the FDA will issue a food recall of specific products.  For the safety of your customers, you should pay attention to any recall notices that are issued in case one of the products you feature in your baskets is affected. In the event that a recall does affect your business, remove any recalled products in your inventory and possibly modify the baskets that normally contain those items. You may want to consider having a plan in place for recalls and what to do in the event affected products are sent to customers.