Our regular readers often turn to us with questions about how to implement this or that idea presented on the 1000 Ideas portal. Therefore, we decided to launch a new series of articles that describe how in Russian conditions it is possible to implement many projects that work successfully abroad.
Fortune-telling cookies (or fortune cookies - “fortune cookies”), inside which fortune-telling paper was originally placed in the East, are very popular in America and Europe. This inexpensive and pleasant gift for Christmas and Birthday turned out to be very popular among modern consumers. Obviously, if there is demand, then there is supply.
In the West, many companies produce “happiness cookies” - from small firms where fortune-telling goodies are made almost by hand, to large companies that produce cookies on an industrial scale. Fortune cookies that came to us from China and Japan are usually baked in the form of a small pancake. A piece of paper with a prediction is embedded inside it. Then the workpiece is rolled up, until the baking has cooled. When cooled, the cookies become hard and break easily. “Fortune Cookies” is used as a pleasant souvenir gift for visitors to cafes and restaurants (served with the bill) or to entertain guests at various corporate banquets, parties, children's parties and, of course, New Year's celebrations.
An analogue of Chinese happy cookies exists in our country - these are all known dumplings with predictions, which are the main dish for the old New Year. However, unlike them, cookies are more versatile, easy to prepare, not as high-calorie and stored longer.
In the West, competition among manufacturers of fortune-telling cookies is so great that companies are trying by any means to find and occupy a still empty niche in this narrow but profitable market segment. For example, there is an “anti-fortunate” fortune-telling cookie called Cookie Misfortune Evil Fortune Cookie, which, as the name implies, contains evil, extremely unpleasant and rather depressing predictions. This cookie is positioned as an option for the drawing of colleagues and friends, although, on the other hand, it can very well be used as a gift to the offender or foe. Evil Cookies sells for 10 at a cost of $ 10 per pack.
Fortunately, in our country, happy cookies are just starting to gain popularity among consumers, so there is practically no competition in this market, and its participants do not need to come up with something new. Currently, there are several Russian and Ukrainian enterprises that produce fortune cookies. Most of them are located in large cities. In the regions, offers are still not enough. And although such cookies have a long shelf life, it is quite difficult to transport. Waffle dough is too fragile, and the product may lose its presentation during transportation. Therefore, we can expect in the near future the appearance of such companies in the regions or the expansion of the range of existing manufacturers of confectionery products.
The main ingredients that make up the dough from which cookies are baked are flour, sugar, eggs and water. Exact recipes can be found on culinary sites or in culinary books. But, most likely, in order to find your recipe, you will have to experiment a lot. The dough itself, from which predictive cookies are made in the West, is not very tasty. Many manufacturers try to save on additional components (such as butter, vanilla, almonds, cinnamon, various powders, glazes) in order to reduce the cost of finished products. In the end, they believe, the main purpose of “happy” cookies is not to surprise a confectionery endowed with a delicate taste, but to make it a pleasant and memorable present-wish.
Nevertheless, do not neglect the taste of the product, because they can become excellent competitive advantages. Most likely, people will prefer more pleasant cookies with predictions than fresh and inedible, but at a lower price. Try to constantly expand the range of products you produce due to the appearance of new tastes. Almond, citrus, chocolate, vanilla, fruit, coffee and other types of cookies will allow customers to offer confectionery for every taste. Large companies that work in this segment, the product range reaches 100-200 different types.
For the production of cookies you will need special automated lines that independently carry out all the necessary operations - from kneading the dough to packaging the finished product. The process of baking cookies with prediction is relatively simple. Pre-sifted flour is mixed with other ingredients for the dough using a dough mixer. The dough from which cookies are made is liquid and resembles condensed milk in consistency. By means of a pump, it is fed through dispensers into a ring oven. In the oven there are small cups with a flat round bottom with a diameter of about 7-8 cm. The dough is poured into these cups and baked not only from below, but also from above using a flat heating element. This allows you to evenly bake the dough, giving the liver a pleasant golden hue on both sides. Forms with dough rotate slowly in a circular oven. For one revolution, which takes 3-4 minutes, thin dough manages to bake completely.
When the cookie is ready, it is immediately fed by a manipulator to a device that puts paper predictions into it. This production phase is also fully automated. Predictions pre-printed and cut into strips are quickly inserted into cookies using special vacuum equipment. The text of the predictions is printed on special paper, which does not absorb oil and moisture, food grade, completely safe for health, paint.
While the cookie is hot, it is elastic in structure and does not crumble, which allows it to be folded easily and even twisted. Using two mechanical plates, the cookie is folded in half in the shape of a crescent with glued edges, and inside is a strip of paper with a prediction. The machine then makes the heart shape in the liver, bending it again. After that, the finished cookie with a prediction inside is cooled using a refrigerator, passes quality sorting and is automatically packed. Cookies are poured into cardboard boxes, which are then stacked in shipping boxes that protect the contents from damage during transport.
Please note: due to the fact that the entire production process is fully automated, some cookies (approximately 2-3% of the total batch volume) that go on sale may be “defective” - without an attached paper with a prediction. Visually check for the presence of "filling" is not always possible. Yes, and such a manual check takes a lot of time. Therefore, first test the new equipment for accuracy. If a small percentage of finished cookies is empty, information about this must be placed on the product packaging. You can compensate for the presence of "dummies" by packing a little more products in the package than stated by weight.
For the manufacture of other types of cookies (for example, with glaze, powders, etc.), additional equipment or special lines will be needed.
High quality and product safety are critical to the success of the entire enterprise. The workshop must comply with all established requirements. It can be located both in a separate building and in a residential building - on the first or ground floor. The maximum area of the room where food production is located in a residential building should not exceed 700 square meters. meters. However, most likely, you will not need such areas. A small pastry shop occupies a space of about 60-70 square meters. meters, and the average in terms of production of the workshop has enough area of 300-400 square meters. meters.
In addition to the workshop itself, separate rooms are needed for storage rooms for raw materials with refrigeration equipment, egg slaughterhouses, rooms for making dough with a flour sifting department, for cutting dough, storing packaging materials, washing and sterilizing inventory. Finding a place that fits all requirements is not easy. Any production room should have a separate entrance and emergency exit, and the raw materials are delivered from the ends of the building, where the windows of the house do not go. Garbage cans for industrial waste should be located on the side of the road and at a distance of at least 25 meters from residential buildings. Sewer risers are not laid in the production room, and the amount of water should fully meet the needs of the workshop.
In addition, the workshop should have, according to requirements, a centralized cold and hot water supply or water heaters in the washing rooms, a separate ventilation system with a dust and bactericidal filter. To handle the inventory you will need special bactericidal lamps. Before entering the production facilities, all employees pass through a disinfection chamber. Each employee must have at least two sets of special clothing and disposable gloves. The personnel working in the production are also subject to certain requirements. Workers must have the necessary qualifications and experience in the food industry.
A declaration of conformity and a GOST certificate are issued for the products themselves, and a hygiene certificate for paper for predictions. At each stage of production, products undergo several inspections, and the equipment itself is regularly checked and cleaned. Strict adherence to food production standards guarantees high quality finished products. Confectionery products must be made in accordance with GOST and not contain any dyes, preservatives or genetically modified products.
In addition to the taste and quality of cookies, the packaging in which it goes on sale deserves special attention. Inexpensive cookies are sold in cardboard boxes or in plastic packaging in a plastic or paper tray. With sealed packaging, a moisture absorber is placed inside. Expensive gift sets of cookies are packed in tin boxes and glass jars with a beautiful design - drawings, stickers, ribbons, etc.
In addition to standard wishes, there are separate issues of thematic sets of cookies to order, inside which are embedded the numbers for lottery tickets (this type of cookie is not common in Russia), colorful wishes for children, special wishes dedicated to a certain significant date (wedding, anniversary), professional holiday or corporate celebration, with the logo of the customer company on the insert or product packaging.
Some companies organize raffles of various prizes in order to attract new customers, indicating the name of the gift on the paper with predictions. This is a good option for promoting products, which does not require large expenses, but is invariably effective. In addition to conventional cookies, companies offer exclusive options - giant cookies or fortune cookie for animals. The cost of one ordinary cookie is from 6 to 8 rubles, depending on the amount purchased (the more cookies the customer takes, the lower the cost of one unit). Cookies made to order will cost two times more. The cost of one product is about 2-3 rubles apiece.
The main expenses for organizing the production of cookies include renting premises for a workshop and a warehouse, purchasing equipment (special equipment is supplied from America or, a cheaper option, from China), purchasing raw materials, ordering packaging, and wages to employees. The staff is made up of professional confectioners. All personnel undergo mandatory training and regular medical examinations. In addition to the confectioners, you will need managers, accountants, sales representatives, purchasing managers, sales managers and drivers (if delivery is planned).
The confectionery business requires a fairly large start-up investment: expensive equipment (from $ 5, 000 to $ 160, 000), formulation development, materials for production (food paper and paint), preparation of necessary documents, including permits and sanitary conclusions, website creation, development of wishes and predictions texts ( there may be several thousand options for all occasions).
A special cost item is the cost of advertising and promotion. Although there are not so many companies in the production of cookies with predictions in our country, nevertheless, all of them actively advertise their products on the Internet. So you can not do without your own site. The cost of its promotion depends on the requests and the region that interests you. The site should have a detailed description of your products and your contact details. However, you should not really hope that customers will come themselves. It is necessary to constantly monitor various sites and forums, post information on their products on them with a link to your site, and listen to customer reviews.
Do not neglect the "offline" types of advertising. For example, you can publish announcements in specialized publications (wedding magazines, free classified newspapers), arrange for your leaflets to be placed in agencies for organizing various holidays, in children's centers, in catering companies that conduct corporate events. Cookies with pleasant wishes and predictions can be offered to cafes, restaurants and even beauty salons as a “compliment to customers”. It is possible they will become your regular customers.
If you plan to work for the whole country or several regions, you will have to look for dealers to sell your products. Do not save on the development of corporate identity. A memorable logo and recognizable color scheme of packaging, website and advertising products is one of the conditions for successful advertising campaigns.
Although cookies are a universal gift for any celebration, yet the business associated with their production and sale depends on the season. The largest sales volume is observed on New Year and Christmas holidays (from the beginning of December to the middle of January). The return on investment of such production exceeds 150%. The payback period depends on a large number of factors. If your project is planned as a long-term one, and financial opportunities are quite large, experts advise you to purchase a property or to buy a ready-made business (for example, an existing confectionery).
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