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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Tricks of the Trade - How to stop cut apples turning brown on the edges

Tricks of the Trade - #1
How do I stop cut apples going brown?

Yes, I know, you're saying that's easy - just use lemon juice.  And yes, there is some truth in this old wives tale that lemon juice will stop apples turning brown.   The thing is, when you're working with cut fruit to make fruit bouquets professionally, you need them to be the crispiest, juicy apples with the whitest of 'flesh' showing.

Lemon juice is good, but it doesn't keep the apple completely free of brown.  I found something much more effective in making my cut apples (which I then dip in chocolate and decorate) the whitest they can be without adding any harmful chemicals.

Watch my helpful Tricks of the Trade video number 1 to get the low down on what to use to stop your cut apples going brown.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

What equipment do I need to start a fruit bouquet business and how much will it cost?

This is a popular question I'm asked by budding fruit bouquet makers.  The answer depends on WHERE you're setting up your new business.

If you're starting a fruit bouquet business from home, your overheads are going to be significantly lower than if you're setting up a retail business.

At home, you'll need to comply with health and hygiene regulations - but that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to have a production kitchen.  It just means that you need to keep your home kitchen separate to your business kitchen - and that may mean that you just need to get a separate washing up bowl that you wash your lettuce and fruit in (instead of your normal sink) and a separate fridge (I'd go for the biggest, tallest fridge you can get!).

Setting up a fruit bouquet business can be as inexpensive as you can make it.   For example, nothing dictates that you need brand new equipment, so why not find a good second hand fridge in working order.   As long as you have a thermometer in your fridge to record the correct temperature, then that's all you need.

The important aspect of running any catering business, is HYGIENE.   You need to make sure that you run a professional, safe and hygienic environment for your business.  Having a cat walking over worktops is not ideal or conducive to running any food business!

Having a large van, sign-written, is great advertising
When I started my own fruit bouquet business, Tooty Fruity, I worked from a home kitchen.  It was very large, so I was extremely lucky to be able to separate out the kitchen and put a stainless steel work bench and separate fridge in place.   I also bought a tall larder fridge (second hand) and put that in my garage to store assembled bouquets, just prior to delivery, and any perishable fruit such as strawberries.

10% of income came from people seeing the Tooty Fruity van!
My biggest investment was a transit van.   I wanted mobile advertising and so I purchased a second hand, white transit van and then had the largest graphics produced and put them on the side of it.   About 10% of my advertising leads came from people just seeing the van driving around each day!

Setting up a fruit bouquet business from home is a low-cost, start up business.   You can realistically set up the business for less than £1,000 and be making money as soon as word gets out that you're in business!   Word of mouth marketing is the best form for this type of business and the way to the heart is definitely through the mouth!

For more information, please visit:


Can I start a fruit bouquet business from home?

A fruit bouquet business is a flexible concern and you can really locate it anywhere - at home, retail or local market.

 Regardless of your location you can also sell over the internet or face to face – or a combination of these methods.
Wherever you locate your fruit bouquet business, you will need to have registered with your local environmental health department.  I would suggest that you need to get yourself a health and hygiene certificate (this can be done online to save time and money).   In the UK, I suggest you get a level II health and hygiene certificate for retail catering.  This qualifies you extensively for a low-risk business such as fruit bouquets.
Start a profitable fruit bouquet business from home

 If your goal is a large company with several employees and big income, you will need a retail location.  I would caution you setting up JUST a fruit bouquet business and instead, look to compliment it with another day-to-day business, perhaps in the catering sector, or a juice bar, for example.
If you want to create a small business, then you can successfully work from home.  But, as I've just mentioned, you need the appropriate licence/permission from the local authorities to work from your home environment -  fruit bouquet businesses are very similar to running a low risk catering business.

If you decide to work from home, inventory can be stored in existing storage spaces within your home and garage. You may have to add some shelves for proper storage, but these can easily be constructed with very little expense.

 Most homes already have some of the equipment needed for business use - a phone, a computer, and a printer. If your phone isn't equipped with an answering machine, you should get one since orders may come in while you are out making deliveries.  However, you may want to invest in some sort of file cabinet, cash box, and a fax machine.

You'll also need adequate record keeping equipment as well as stationery, envelopes, business cards, sales slips, invoices, containers, labels and other miscellaneous items.  Most of these items can be purchased at local office-supply stores. Again, don't go overboard. Buy only what you need.

If you operate your business from home, call your local authorities as you will need to register with them and if you're in some countries, such as the USA, you will also need to apply for a licence.   If you are renting/have a mortgage you should also consult your landlord or mortgage lender so that you can legally set up your business at home.

You could also rent a space or office in your community. Specialty shops are good locations for a fruit bouquet business a "special" service. Renting or subleasing space in an existing shop can be beneficial to both parties involved. 
You will be getting adequate workspace for your business while paying a percentage of the owner's monthly rent.

Instead of renting a space in specialty shops, you can choose to sell on consignment through these shops. A consignment is an agreement between you and a shop owner who agrees to display and sell your fruit bouquets/gift baskets for a percentage of the sale. The consignment percentage varies from 10 to 30 % depending on your area.  Of course, you'd need to supply them with a branded industrial display fridge. 

Another way to get started in the fruit bouquet industry is to rent market stall, or you could simply sell your fruit bouquets through your website.

A very important concept, a new fruit bouquet business owner should realise is that starting slow, with a small inventory is the most prudent and safest way to begin.

It is a good idea to keep your day job when you start your business. It may take one or two years for a new business to become established.

After that amount of time and experience, the owner should be able to determine what sells best as well as monthly sales and inventory turnover. With this information, the owner can decide how much inventory to carry. If the business is to be profitable, it is essential to have the proper amount of inventory without the excessive outlay of cash.
For more information on how you can set up your own fruit bouquet business, visit:

How Much Money Can I Expect To Make From My Fruit Bouquet Business?

The great thing about starting a fruit bouquet business is that your income potential is entirely in your hands – dependent on how much time you devote to the business, the amount of marketing activity you undertake and of course your existing experience and contacts.

Costs:  What I can tell you is that your average gross profit is approximately 65% (when you take out direct costs such as fruit and sundries) - well, that's what you should be working towards to each fruit bouquet you design and make. That’s great for a business with very little outgoings and on-going costs - especially if you're based from home.

Income:  Your average sale price for a fruit bouquet is likely to be between around £20 and £55 per product, meaning that your ‘gross profit’ should typically be somewhere between £13.60 and £35.75 per product.   So, how many fruit bouquets are you going to sell? Well, that’s really up to you – and it will depend on many factors. But let me give you an example business plan by way of illustration: (Please remember that these figures are for illustration only. They are not a guarantee of sales volume or earnings.

• A typical wedding order can be for £350 – and you might decide to plan to do at least one wedding each month. That’s £4,200 per year. Wedding Exhibitions are a great way of generating leads and orders.  

• Seasonal events – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter are all big gift giving opportunities and this is certainly when you can double and even triple your usual monthly order quotas – you could generate up to 200 orders at Christmas. An example would be 200 fruit bouquets at an average cost of £30 (profit £20 each). That would generate a turnover of £6,000 and a profit of £3,900.

• Special birthdays, Bar Mitzvah’s, Thank You and Get Well Soon etc. might be in your plan to generate, in total, say an average of 10 sales per month; At £30 per fruit bouquet, that would be £300 per month (£3,600 per year turnover).

• Word of mouth and Networking can bring in a great deal of business – especially if you get your business cards circulating in the right circles! You might decide to plan for an extra 10 sales per month from this source, for example. £100 turnover per month = £1,200 per year.

 • Then you’ve got the Corporate and Event market. A single order here can range from 30 orders to 60 orders per event. So, from the corporate/event market you could estimate about 10 events per year. That could produce a turnover of anything from £4,500 - £9,000 p.a.

You can see from this example how you could be producing an average of 40 orders per month – on a very part-time basis and realistically within four to six months of starting your business from scratch. You could aim to do more than this – or a lot less. It’s entirely up to you.

These figures are NO GUARANTEE of earnings. But from the business plan example given above, you could expect a turnover of £19,500 to £24,000. One thing is for sure, this is an exciting emerging market in the UK and one that is ‘blooming’ in the USA.

Isn’t it time you had a piece of the action? For more information on how you could set up your own fruit bouquet business from home, visit: