21 Ways To Start Selling Hot Sauce…TODAY!


If you finally have an outstanding hot sauce recipe and have provided the funding and time to bottle your hot sauce, then you are ready to start making sales. The demand and demographics for making these sales are out there…you just must connect with them.

Making your first hot sauce sale with the people you know will help spread the word about how delicious your sauce is. Friends, coworkers and associates are an excellent opportunity to capitalize on free marketing and making your first sale. Additional sales can be made at farm stands and festivals with little or no investment. Online opportunities like Amazon and Shopify continue to be available to reach a global audience but some of them can cost hundreds of dollars a year.

Several things will need to happen before you make your first sale. Some of them are obvious and some may not be. Your sauce will need to be bottled and packaged safely to meet the sanitary guidelines of the FDA. You should also provide a Product Display Label, a nutritional label and a bar code. These are needed for commerce across state lines and into other counties and it gives your sauce a professional appearance. Once these things are accomplished… you can sell anywhere! Download the Are-You-Ready-To-Sell-Checklist here as a quick reference guide.

Should I have a business plan?

A business plan is a great investment for any entry-level small business but making your first sale is just as important. If you have investors and lenders that you will be working with then a business plan is necessary. If you want to start making sales…skip it. Just be cautioned that as your business grows you should put together a well-thought-out and thorough business plan.

LET’S SELL!

Positives of selling hot sauce

Hot sauce can be very easy and inexpensive to make

Some gourmet and artisan hot sauces can get pricey and complex to make but other traditional style hot sauces can be made with a few inexpensive ingredients inside of a simple kitchen setup. Making, bottling and labeling a single bottle of hot sauce can be done in a few minutes. Economy of scale to reduce cost and time comes into play when the hot sauce is mass produced.

Keeping ingredients simple will keep costs down but will also make production easier (and this will also keep costs down). Some traditional hot sauces can be made for under a dollar per bottle and have the potential to be cheaper if you are mass-producing.

Hot sauce inventory takes up very little space

A hot sauce product takes up very little space so you can store a lot of product in smaller areas. Shelf space for retailers is extremely important but hot sauce can squeeze into limited spaces. Transportation and shipping will cost less due to smaller packing than many other food products.

Hot sauce is becoming increasingly popular

The hot sauce industry is growing as well as the demographics. This industry is only increasing for the next five years so now is a great time to invest. Hot sauces are showing up in convenience stores, online shops and other retailers.

Hot sauce ingredients are easily obtainable

Most traditional hot sauce ingredients are obtainable in local stores and markets in large quantities to fill larger orders. Even some exotic additives can be obtained online if you reach out to the proper connections.

Be prepared

Make sure you have an inventory of hot sauce to fill orders as they come in. If you make a fermented hot sauce or need time for other processes, then it could take weeks to make a fresh batch of sauce. Made to order sauces almost guarantee freshness but it can be a delay in the consumer receiving their product.  

Also, you will need to have fresh ingredients in stock to make a hot sauce to fill orders larger than your inventory. Don’t make large batches of sauce and freeze them with the assumption you can quickly thaw it to fill orders, it won’t be the same sauce.

Know the Cost Of Sauce

You MUST know how much it costs you to produce a single bottle of hot sauce! Don’t guess at a price point for selling your hot sauce based on competition, calculate exactly how much you are spending to make hot sauce so that you know exactly how much money you will make per bottle. Download the Cost Of Sauce spreadsheet for FREE to determine the price point of your hot sauce and increase profits.

Sell hot sauce to friends, coworkers and acquaintances

1 ] Friends

It shouldn’t seem like an odd approach to ask your friend for money for a hot sauce that you just gave them, especially if they are a good friend and want to support you. I would not make a cold approach to someone and expect to be able to sell sauce steadily. This is assuming that they already know that you make hot sauce and are also helping you with feedback on how your sauce looks and tastes. This feedback is important.

If anyone wants to see you succeed at selling hot sauce and help promote your hot sauce it should be your friends and family. If your grandmother doesn’t buy your sauce…

2 ] Co-workers

These are your friends at work so they probably know you have begun making hot sauce as well. This is where you want your sauce to have a professional appearance. Offer them a discount price and treat them to one of your most favorite recipes using one of your sauces. This can be promoted before an upcoming casual work event like an annual outdoor gathering, sports related event or holiday get together.

Friends, Co-workers and Acquaintances
CostFree
What’s neededFew bottles, entrée featuring your product
Time to set up1 hour
PositivesAlmost a guaranteed sale
NegativesIt could be months before they purchase again

3 ] Street Food Vendor

Street food vendors are becoming more popular in larger cities and their credibility as a legitimate and safe food source has expanded. Hot sauce pairs well with some of the more popular street foods such as Chimichanga, Mollete, Tacos, Chaat and Chili crab and these street food vendors are becoming increasingly popular among the hot sauce consumer demographics.

Because of the small space needed to display hot sauce, you could team up with a vendor and both you and the vendor could thrive. There are specific regulations to selling as a vendor but the operator of the business will be familiar with that.

Street Food Vendor
CostDepends on the deal between you and the vendor
What’s needed10 – 12 bottles
Time to set up1 hour
PositivesFood vendors are being established everywhere both globally and domestically
NegativesThey may already have their own specialty sauce, they may only be in large cities

4 ] Food Trucks

According to IBISWorld.com, there are 28,228 food trucks in the US alone and this number is only growing. Oftentimes food sold out of these trucks are specialty items that hot sauce would pair well with. Burgers, fries and Indian street food are some of the most popular and all pair well with hot sauce.

Hot sauce consumers and food truck patrons are the same demographics. Bigthink.com states that 47% of Millennials have eaten from food trucks and this is the same target market for your hot sauce.This is the largest living generation with the largest demographic of hot sauce consumers.

Partnering up with an already established food truck can allow you to advertise your product and make sales. This approach is very feasible, but you will most likely need to provide the owner with a percentage of the profit. Even offering your product for free to a popular food truck could be great advertising. If you know an owner of a food truck (chances are you do) make a connection and sell your sauce.

Food Truck
CostDepends on the owner of the truck
What’s needed1 case of sauce
Time to set up30 minutes
PositivesMany locations across the US and world
NegativesMaking a sale to the owner, a large percentage of profit could go to the owner

5 ] Restaurants

A local restaurant or a bar and grill will offer the same opportunities as a food truck would. Well-established brand-name restaurants will often have their own merchandise for sale to include sauces. Every restaurant has condiments to offer their patrons and hot sauce is becoming as popular as ketchup. If you mass produce you could put their brand and logo on your recipe.

Restaurants
CostOffer the owner a commission
What’s needed2 – 4 cases
Time to set up2 -4 hours
PositivesFind a restaurant that offers food that pairs well with your hot sauce
NegativesSmaller regions may only have a few locations

Sell locally at farm markets, festivals and stores

6 ] Farmers’ markets

Farmers’ markets are usually places where the locally grown produce is displayed to boast the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. There are probably 10 to 12 towns near me that host farmers’ markets within 50 miles. There usually are not the same guidelines to follow as there would be for interstate commerce but you would need a staff member to attend the event.

Locate a farmers market near you! Use this directory from the Agricultural Marketing Service to locate local farmers’ markets and also search for available products and payment methods accepted. This is a huge directory that will give you a direct contact.

Local Food Directories: National Farmers Market Directory | Agricultural Marketing Service (usda.gov)

The negatives of selling hot sauce at a farmers’ market is that the demographics that consume hot sauce don’t always shop at a farmers’ market. The largest percentage of gourmet and artisan hot sauce is sold to males between the age of 25 and 40. Find a market that attracts this group and you are sure to make sales.

Farm Market
Cost$20 – $120, depends on the geographic, some locations could be free
What’s neededDisplay table, signs, lots of available product, way to exchange money and accept credit card
Time to set up1 – 2 hours
PositivesNo strict regulations
NegativesMay not be the demographics for selling hot sauce

7 ] Farm Stand

A farm stand is more like a store that sells fresh produce and produce related products from one local farm. However, there are also prepackaged goods like sauces, honey and syrup that are usually locally grown and produced. It may be a good idea to display your product near or around related items, even though it’s your competition.

Farm Stand
CostThe owner gets a commission
What’s neededA case of product
Time to set up20 minutes
PositivesEast set up
NegativesFarm stands may not have the demographics for a lot of hot sauce sales

8 ] Hot Sauce Festivals

Some festivals focus solely on hot sauce, chili and spicy foods. Due to the increasing popularity of hot sauce any festival could prove successful. There are over 65 festivals globally that focus on hot sauce and spicy foods.

Some of the larger festivals like the NYC Hot Sauce Expo will be more difficult to get into. You will also need more setup than just a table because competition will be plentiful. Invest in an exhibition that showcases your sauce, attracts attention and looks professional.

Hot Sauce Festivals
CostVaries between $100 – $500 depending on how many days
What’s neededExhibit, free samples
Time to set upTotal time to set up could be over 8 hours including contact time
PositivesOpportunity to connect with people who love hot sauce
NegativesTime-consuming and costly, may need to apply for a permit through the organization

9 ] Food Related Events

Any food-related event can be a great place or venue to sell hot sauce. The closer the event is related to food and/or hot sauce the better the chance of making a sale. If you find the right demographic at each of these events then you could have the opportunity to make some sales.

These events could include cooking expos, restaurant promotions or natural products and could all be related to hot sauce. I wouldn’t try to sell hot sauce at the International Quilters Convention (I made that up). However, there could be events that host your target market.

Musical events? Why not? Set up for selling at a musical event would not be as extravagant as some other events because there wouldn’t be much competition. Find an event with the same demographics as hot sauce consumers and you can make some sales. Rap, pop and hip hop are among the most listed to styles of music by Millenials.

Skydiving, avalanche bike racing, heli-skiing, slacklining, bungy jumping, skydiving, wing jumping, cliff jumping, rodeo, hang gliding, street luge, rock climbing, ski jumping and big wave surfing are all activities that attract the thrill seeker (another major target market for hot sauce sales).  

Food Related Events
CostDepends on the location and the event
What’s neededDisplay table, signs, lots of available product, way to exchange money and accept credit card
Time to set up1 – 2 hours
PositivesNo strict regulations
NegativesMay not be the demographics for selling hot sauce

10 ] Sell hot sauce in stores

Stores and markets love to promote and sell locally made products as a way to boast that they are supporting the local economy. These stores can usually be approached with a phone call, email or personal appearance to display your product. Stores use the “Buy Local” slogan as part of a marketing campaign. Larger grocery stores and markets may take more effort to approach but will also have a larger audience.

Selling your product in stores can take a lot of footwork to find the right contact person. This would mean you will have to know who the major buyer is for the store. This can be done through email, phone calls or personal visits. Be persistent in reaching the right person and be prepared to present your product to them in an in-person meeting. These meetings are where you SELL your hot sauce.

Consider what kinds of foods your sauce pairs with and who are your direct competitors. Smaller stores may be easier to approach but don’t get discouraged if you get turned down. According to foodindustry.com there are over 40,000 stores in the US alone! Statistica.com states that there are over 152,720 convenient stores (2019 data) in the US as well! That’s a huge opportunity to sell hot sauce but the negatives are that it would take a lot of time and effort to reach them all.

Stores
CostVaries between stores
What’s needed2 – 4 cases of product
Time to set upWeeks
PositivesYour product will be displayed among other top name sauces
NegativesIt will take a lot of time and effort, lower profit margin compared to other options

Sell hot sauce online

The e-commerce opportunities have increased are only growing. Follow the same packaging and labeling guidelines to sell your hot sauce online as you would for other sales because it makes your product look professional. Everyone’s doing it. Read some examples below on marketing and promoting your hot sauce online.

Online sales make up over 20% of all retail sales and have grown by over 15% since 2019. The days of touching and feeling a product are behind us and now consumers rely heavily on reviews, influencers or social media. What I like to call “Word of Mouth”.

The opportunities to sell online are endless. Here are just a few…

11 ] Craigslist

I use craigslist all the time to sell and give away stuff. This is a quick and easy way to sell your sauce. Craigslist has become a reputable way to connect with people online at no cost. I would not count on this for making your first sale, although it is extremely easy to make an instant online presence.

Craigslist has over 50 billion page views a month so I wouldn’t rule it out completely. One of the drawbacks is that you would have to figure out shipping. Craigslist suggest all transactions are done in person and this also would take a lot of time and effort.

Craigslist
CostFree
What’s neededEmail, case of sauce (24 ct), pictures
Time to set up10 minutes
PositivesEasy setup, gets lots of page views
NegativesNot a lot of people searching for hot sauce

12 ] Ebay

Ebay has been widely known for years as a place to sell just about anything used or new. Few websites are as reputable and popular as Ebay for selling merchandise. For many entrepreneurs, this is their first experience at making online sales.

Some of the negatives against using Ebay to sell hot sauce are that there is already a huge listing of hot sauces. Some of them are popular name brands. Ebay calculates the shipping costs but you still need to package the product.

Ebay
Cost1st 200 listings free
What’s neededProduct ready to be shipped, email, pictures
Time to set up20 minutes
PositivesVery popular, easy to set up
NegativesA lot of very well-known brands to compete against

13 ] Etsy

Etsy started as an online store for selling crafts. Now, there are many independent manufacturers of hot sauce selling their craft sauce and related products. Etsy has more independent producers of hot sauce than Ebay or Amazon but there is still a huge listing. Don’t let that discourage you…your sauce will fit right in.

Etsy
Etsy 
Cost$.20 / product listing
What’s neededProduct ready to be shipped
Time to set up30 minutes
PositivesBecoming very popular
NegativesA lot of competition, good opportunity for related products

14 ] Facebook Marketplace

This is another example of using well-known social media to sell a product. These pages are set up for free with just a couple of clicks. Facebook Marketplace is similar to Etsy in what is displayed for sale. However, you can sell live through Facebook Market place. How cool is that!

Facebook Marketplace
CostFree
What’s neededFacebook account, e commerce account, pictures of your product
Time to set up5 minutes
PositivesMany people using Facebook daily, selling live
NegativesYou need to do all of your own packaging and shipping

15 ] Amazon

Amazon is the largest online merchant, but you already knew that. Amazon accounted for a third of all e commerce sales in 2020. Getting your product on Amazon could prove to be a successful venture for your hot sauce business. Amazon has the largest selections of hot sauce including their own brand so there will be a lot of competition.

Set up is easy but before you begin you should understand their product detail requirements. These details follow closely with FDA Product Display Label, nutritional label and bar code so if you have already done that (as was suggested at the beginning of this article) that you should be good to go.

Amazon
Cost$39.99 plus $.99 for every sale you make
What’s needed10 – 12 cases of product, professional quality pictures
Time to set up2 -4 hours
PositivesAmazon is a very reputable and trusted brand name
NegativesA lot of competition, the monthly cost can add up, the hot sauce needs professional packaging

Start selling hot sauce at your own online store

These are online stores that you can set up yourself but you will need to drive the traffic. A fully functioning online store can be set up using templates provided by the host that gives the store a professional appearance.

16 ] Shopify

Shopify and sites similar are becoming more popular on the internet. These stores are an excellent way to engage with an international demographic and enter online retail. There are only a few regions of the globe where hot sauce is not as popular as other areas (that’s because we haven’t reached them yet).

Shopify
Cost$29 a month
What’s neededEmail, credit card
Time to set up2 – 4 hours
PositivesBecoming increasingly popular, professional-looking store
NegativesHigher costs than some other sites

17 ] EcWid

EcWid is Shopify’s competition. Set up a store for free in just a couple of minutes. EcWid offers templates to make set up easier but you will only have a single page. Free sign up and you can start selling across multiple platforms today!

EcWid
CostFree
What’s neededE mail account
Time to set up20 minutes
PositivesEcWid offers store front templates
NegativesNeed to drive traffic to your store

18 ] Wix eCommerce

Wix eCommerce is as easy to set up as many other hosts. This style of website allows you to sell other products without the hassles of shipping. Like many of these similar sites the monthly costs will need to be paid upfront for the entire year but they are all still reasonably priced.

Wix eCommerce
Cost$23.00 a month
What’s neededE mail, physical product, pictures
Time to set up30 minutes – 1 hour
PositivesDrop shipping with the Modalyst app allows to sell other products
Negatives$.30 charge per sale

19, 20 & 21 ] WordPress

WordPress, WooCommerce and squarespace are all similar to many web site that you can create to promote and sell your hot sauce. It is sites like these that relies on organic traffic to be drivin by answers to search inquiries. If you are good at that than you can get traffic flowing to your site.

WordPress.com
Cost$60 a year
What’s neededEmail, credit card
Time to set up30 minutes initial set up, 30 hours fully set up
PositivesGreat platform to advertise and sell sauce, a small community
NegativesYou have to create the traffic

Other sites

There are many web site that are dedicated solely to the sale of hot sauce. These are sites where people are coming specifically for a new hot sauce product. These stores are not as large as Amazon and don’t have the same criteria to get in. Hotsauce.com and Hotsaucefever.com are two of the top sites. Some unique features are that you can search by ingredient, type of sauce or SHU ranking.

The importance of marketing and promoting

Every time you mention your hot sauce to someone else you are promoting it!

You are the best person to promote and stand by your product. Getting others to stand by your hot sauce and believe that it is as good as you think it becomes work.

Selling your first bottle of hot sauce is a milestone of your start-up business. Continuing to make sales is an example of a successful business and is the goal of any entrepreneur. Making these sales must include a great marketing campaign and successful ways of promoting.

Blogging

Blogging is an excellent way to create organic traffic to a web page about your hot sauce. People are searching Google for answers to just about anything to include hot sauce. People may not be searching for your particular hot sauce but once you have answered their inquiry through your blog you can then introduce your sauce.

Social media

This works similarly to blogging but can be done with images, short video or simple text messages instead of a 1500 word count blog post. This is the norm for every business from small start up to world wide recognized businesses.

How to promote your hot sauce

Give away free stuff

Simply put the word “FREE” is a great marketing tactic, but you are not making any money. Giving products away for free can lead to sales. “free stuff” can mean information, infographics or other digital product related to your hot sauce.

On sale items

Sales and discounts have been part of promoting a product for centuries. Sometimes they are not even a significant reduction in the price of the product. These sales pitches can be offered through advertising, offering a discount code or email drip campaign.

Although many of the suggestions in this article are easy to set up and the first hot sauce bottle sold is always a milestone, I would promote a hot sauce where people are looking for it. There are many sites available where hot sauce is the main condiment being sold.

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