Want Your Product On Store Shelves? ‘Supermarket Superstar’ Mentor Chris Cornyn Has Advice

August 5, 2013  |  

How many times have you cracked open a can of soup and thought to yourself, “My recipe is way better?” You could be right, but getting your product on store shelves could be a long shot.

“Nine out of 10 new food products fail. Even multinationals,” says Chris Cornyn, founder of DINE, The Food & Drink Agency. Cornyn is also a mentor on the new Lifetime show Supermarket Superstar. During each episode (airing Thursday at 10:30ET), three contestants bring their culinary ideas to three experts (Debbi Fields of Mrs. Fields Cookies and chef/TV personality Michael Chiarello are the other mentors; Stacey Kiebler hosts the show). Over the course of an hour, they get advice about how to bring their product to market. In the end, one winner gets $10,000 and $100,000 worth of product development, including help from DINE. At the end of the season, three contestants will present their product to Sam Martin, the CEO of A&P.

But before anyone gets to the A&P, they have to build the business side of their food company as much as the product.

“It takes three years to turn a profit,” Cornyn told MadameNoire Business. “Just because you have a great food idea and your cousin likes it doesn’t mean you’re going to make money.”

In fact, getting the food right is simple, Cornyn says.

“Coming up with a great tasting product is the easy part. Finding out how you’re going to make money is critical,” he adds. And if you can “hit it big, you can make a fortune.”

Fellow mentor Mrs. Fields started her business in a home kitchen. Cornyn suggests that others do the same, then branch out to farmer’s markets and other places where people will learn about the product and — more importantly — offer feedback.

“Ultimately, you’re going to sell to people and you don’t know how they live and what they’re like,” Cornyn says. On the episode we watched, a focus group critiqued the three contestants, offering up things like “too salty” and “hard to eat,” things that a stranger would be willing to say honestly but a friend might not.

All of that is to say you have to “learn the business” — know your product and know how to present it to others. Check out Chris Cornyn at work below.

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