business Oh Canada Starting a hot sauce biz in the north

Like many, I've been making various sauces for years. Covid hit, working from home, I decided to start selling. It's gone pretty well, really ramped up in the month before Christmas. Now I'm taking time to adjust and maybe take next steps.

I've encountered many hurdles, blew a bunch of cash, but I'm getting a bit more streamlined. At the same time I need to ramp up production, so all that is *almost* out the window.

I'm going to share some experiences, and hope to gain resources along the way.

What do I make?

3 different fruit-based hot sauces (pineapple, peach, and mango). All habanero, all 5-6/10 on the average heat scale. Candided jalapenos are a HUGE new product I released Oct 2021, SO popular. I'll get back to them later. Seasonally I do a habanero cranberry sauce, also popular.

Where do I sell?
  1. Online ecommerce website
  2. Instagram/FB
  3. Word of mouth (huge)
  4. Farmers/community markets
  5. A few craft brewing companies selling local merch
How do I deliver?
  1. Porch pickup
  2. Market direct sell
Where are you located?

I'm in York Region, 40 minutes north of Toronto

What is my process?
  1. All of my products are PH tested.
  2. All bottles/jars are sanitized
  3. Products heated to temp then canned
  4. Jalapenos and cranberry are in proper jars and you can "feel the seal". I do the same process with my sauces in the 5oz woozy with plastic lid, there is a little "pop" but is that enough?
What I'm happy with/overcome:
  • BOTTLES: Holy what a major investment. Started with u-line, what a ripoff. Tried a couple places but was recommended to Service isn't the best, I'd be shocked if they actually own a phone, but prices are 1/2 competitor's
  • LABELS: reduced my costs to $0.17/label as opposed to $1.58. This IS a family friend so keep that in mind (I honestly forgot about him, should have been where I started). This is after:
    • Vistaprint
    • Local word of mouth (two differen)
    • Fast Signs
What are my current concerns?
  1. If I want to get into actual retail (and to protect my ass), I need:
    1. Access to a commercial rental kitchen (in the works)
    2. Proper nutritional labeling
    3. Proper shrink seal, can't seem to find anywhere
  3. Cardboard gift box
  4. Accounting software for cost of goods sold (COGS).
Commercial Kitchen

I have a friend that owns a restaurant locally, they're closed Sunday night and all day Monday, potential there. I've never worked in one but can bring the majority of cookware. We'll be talking this week

Nutritional Labeling

I imagine I'd have to send in samples to be tested, does anyone have any leads?

Shrink Seal

I've purchased a few different packs from Amazon but I want the legit black plastic seal. Anyone?

Bottle Filler

I know I'm not the only one. 2/3 sauces are pretty thin which is fine, but my pineapple is pretty viscous. I've tried
  • Hard funnel
  • Silicone funnel
  • Turkey baster
  • Cones
  • Ziplock bags
  • Beverage servers with bottom spouts
The pisser is that my family bought this for me: Same model, but without the foot pedal, about $160 CAD.

I thought all my problems were solved. After 3 months of not intensive use, a piece fell off inside. Because the unit is welded shut there was no fixing it so I'm back to square one. I just bought a pancake batter dispenser, so if nothing else, back to the silicone funnels.


I'm pretty good tech wise. My issue is with organizing my costs out and revenue in.
  • Purchasing is done through personal accounts. Haven't even set up a "legit" business as it is so small scale. HST required on annual sales over 32k.
  • Purchasing includes:
    • Costco
    • Supermarkets (ie I can only find large amounts of fresh habs/jalapenos at asian supermarkets)
    • Amazon
  • Money comes in through:
    • Cash (40%)
    • Square payment processing (in-person and e-commerce) (60%)
The above calculations vary. When we do shows we always have our Square and that helps immensely. I see so many vendors turning people away, don't get it.

***I'd like to get an approximate cost on creating inventory, minus little things like a 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, etc.

Cardboard Gift Box

Not super necessary, but I'd like a cardboard box that I can fold and package 3 woozies nicely. Try googling "hot sauce gift box" ugh.

My "Perfect World"

Stop it, you know what I mean:
  • How do I fill these damn bottles?!?!
  • Accounting solutions that can tie everything together.
  • Commercial kitchen, any experiences?
  • Proper shrink wrap

This post took WAY longer than I thought it would.

I've always worked in a tech environment that doesn't necessarily deal with "inventory", so it's completely feasible that I'm REALLY overthinking this. If you guys/gals have any advice here (or for a beer if local), please let me know. I'm happy to share as well.
Shouldn't be too hard to get a handle on your costs for the product: X amount of raw materials to make (for example) 20 bottles, plus jar, lid, label, etc.. Stating the obvious - but be sure to calculate your time spent, too. Every time you handle the product.

I'm in a similar place trying to figure out the labeling and kitchen requirements - but I don't think my NC, US based info will be very helpful to you. We have a "Food Entrepreneurship" program through our NC State University system that helped me with a lot of good info, you might want to see if there's something like that in your area. Also, look around for rental kitchens - kitchens intended specifically to rent to food businesses. Even if you decide to go with your friend's restaurant, some of them have additional programs like help for labeling, marketing info, etc.

Good luck and keep us posted!

A lot of questions answered here ^ .
Hope it helps and good luck! Have Fun!
Thanks for the input, I tend to find things a lot more difficult to source here in Canada, maybe it's the little brother syndrome. We pay a lot more in taxes, shipping sucks, regulations are brutal (try opening a food truck), and ya, half the year the weather sucks too.