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Biting into the Siomai Food Business

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It has always been said that food business is one of the businesses that remains vibrant in good times or bad. For new Pinoy Entrepreneurs who understandably have limited experience in running a business, starting a small food business is preferable. Some try out food business franchises that are proliferating these days. Others eschew the fees and royalties that go with a franchise, and choose to open their independent food business. We’ve snooped around and found that one lucrative food business is siomai. Here are the things we’ve discovered:

Get your recipe. Knowing the ingredients of siomai is not a complicated process. Just get the right mix of pork fat and meat, binder (egg), extenders (singkamas, carrots, mushrooms, etc.) and spices (salt and pepper) and you’re on your way. Throw in other ingredients as develop your recipe.

Enrol in a siomai-making class. Sure, you could read about siomai-making in the internet, but a class with a reputable instructor would provide you with useful tips and insights in the do’s and don’ts of making siomai, packaging, market/product segmentation, and other factors. These are information that you could gain from experience, but for little over a thousand pesos, these are details that you can learn vicariously.

Costing and Pricing. Just like any business, you have to factor in the total price needed to produce one siomai piece. Simply add the cost of all ingredients and divide with the number of pieces produced, and you have the basic costing. Pricing is an entirely different matter. It includes your planned markup, which could easily be 500% of your unit cost. In pesos, a piece of siomai costing P1 to produce could easily sell at P5 or more. It’s really a profitable business. [See also Into Food Business? What you Must Know]

Location. There are three rules for success in real estate or other business: location, location, location. High foot traffic is, of course, the holy grail, although the kind of siomai you produce should also match the nature of the foot traffic. For instance, foot traffic that is sensitive to price should also be served with an appropriately-priced siomai (that would mean more extenders). A siomai with special ingredients and no extender is naturally priced at a premium.

Reliable suppliers. A consistent taste requires a steady supply of ingredients. One of the most crucial siomai ingredient is the back fat. Other kind of pork fat melts when exposed to heat, but not back fat. Equally important to quality is quantity. You produce a certain number of siomai per kilo of supply so you could program the quantity of ingredients to be purchased.

Packaging. This could refer to the packaging used to individually serve the siomai (an elongated paper plate, for instance) or the packaging of the outlet. The common style these days is the kiosk or food cart, which could be conveniently placed in the middle of a place with high traffic and transferred easily.

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