All the food business and marketing terms you need to know.
Advertising - Static content/images used to promote a brand or compelling event. Not recommended for small budgets.
Agri-business - Farming or agriculture as a business or industry.
Allergy statement - Names of the food sources of all major food allergens used as ingredients in a packaged food.
Artisan - Food or drink containing high-quality ingredients and is made the traditional way.
Avatar - A fictitious person who represents a target customer. Businesses may have more than one avatar.
Benefit - Describes a product or service in a way that answers the question, “what’s in it for the customer?”
Biodegradable - Products that can break down safely and somewhat quickly in the natural environment.
Blog - A part of a website that gets updated regularly with posts.
Blog post versus blog - The blog is the section of the website updated frequently. Posts are the articles published on the blog.
Brand - A company’s brand is communicated in the way the business is positioned relative to its competitors such as the company name, imagery, messaging, how and where the product is promoted, and in the customer experience. A brand is a promise to customers.
Brand advocates - Customers, fans, partners, and employees who adore a brand, recommend its products to friends, and talk about both brand and product on the social web. Sometimes called influencers.
Brand elements - The individual pieces that combine to comprise a brand, e.g., logo, fonts, colors, business name, and tagline.
Brand journalism - Reporting and storytelling completed by a company’s marketers, not the media.
Brand messaging - The voice, tone, and personality used to express a brand promise.
Brand positioning statement - States purpose and features industry terms that describe offerings, including what makes them unique, a detailed description of the need filled, and a description of target audience.
Brand story - There is a BIG brand story that reveals the overarching description of the entire business and mini-brand stories that tell smaller, nuanced stories.
Branding - More than a logo. It’s the promise your company makes to the world that is reflected in all your graphics, copy, and collateral.
Broker - A sales professional, often specializing in a niche, who represents a variety of products to buyers.
Certificate of analysis (C of A) - A document from a company’s internal Quality Assurance department that states a regulated product meets product specifications. C of A’s frequently contain results from testing performed on an individual batch of a product.
Child Nutrition - A USDA labeling program that provides food manufacturers the opportunity to include a standardized food crediting statement on product labels. These labels must be produced under inspection and approved by FNS (Food and Nutrition Service).
Class of trade - How you sell your product, e.g., direct to consumers, wholesale to retailers, through broker who distributes to retailer who sells to consumers, etc.
Co-Packer - An outside company that creates and/or packs a product for distribution.
Collateral - Any and all material used to promote a business or product.
Community supported agriculture (CSA) - A system in which a farm operation is supported by shareholders within the community who share both the benefits and risks of food production.
Compostable - Compostable containers and packaging break down and become nutrient-rich soil, aiding the growth of trees and plants.
Concept stage - First stage of a business lifecycle where ideas are tested.
Consumer packaged goods (CPG) - Packaged products that are sold quickly and at low cost to consumers (versus commercially). Also called fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) for items with a shorter shelf life.
Content calendar - A tool that outlines all upcoming content to be published on a website, blog, social media, newsletter, and other materials.
Content marketing - The practice of promoting a business through routinely produced written content, images, and video.
Content reach - Also called social reach. The number of people who could potentially see a piece of content.
Copywriting - Selling with words.
Cost of goods sold (COGS) - Direct costs needed for the production of goods sold by a company, e.g., materials and labor costs.
Cottage foods laws - Most states (not all) allow small-scale residential preparation and sales of food products without food licensing. However, specific cottage food rules vary widely state by state.
Design - Creating imagery.
Development stage - Second stage of a business lifecycle where ideas and product are nearly finalized, and the brand is built.
Distributor - A company that manages logistics of local, regional, national, or even global shipping and delivery.
Domain name - A web address. Also called a URL, which stands for uniform resource locator.
Dry good grocery - Items (such as tobacco, tea, and coffee) that do not contain liquid.
E-commerce - An online store.
Elevator Speech - A summary of what you do and why it matters, usually about 70 words. Your tagline is a distillation of your elevator speech.
Engagement - A percentage of people who viewed content and took action (e.g., liked, shared, commented, etc.).
Facing - The number of one particular SKU on a shelf "facing" the customer.
Fair trade - Trade in which fair prices are paid to food producers in developing countries.
Farm to counter - A cause dedicated to producing food locally and delivering it to local consumers.
Fat Free - Food with less than 0.5 grams of total fat per labeled serving.
Feature - Describes what your product/service is or does.
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) - A 2011 law that works to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by changing the focus of federal regulators to preventing contamination instead of just responding to it. Includes preventive controls, inspection and compliance guidelines, and imported food safety regulations among other things.
Food share - Communal purchase of local, sustainable, non GMO, organic, free range, quality food products.
Free-from food/beverage - Term used to describe foods that don't contain ingredients such as wheat, dairy, sugar, etc, and so are safe for people who have allergies or aversion to these ingredients.
Functional food/beverage - Foods that could possibly have a positive effect on health beyond its basic nutrition. For instance, oatmeal, which contains soluble fiber, could help lower cholesterol.
Generally recognized as safe (GRAS) - An American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) designation that a chemical or substance added to food is considered safe by experts, and so is exempted from the usual Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) food additive tolerance requirements.
Genetically modified organism (GMO) - Novel organisms created in a laboratory using genetic modification/engineering techniques.
Gluten Free - Foods that do not include gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale).
Gourmet - Fine food involving high-quality or unusual ingredients. Usually prepared with a certain level of skill.
Growth stage - Fifth stage of business lifecycle when a business seeks to sell more product and become more profitable.
Halal/Halaal/Hallal - When applied to food, Halal means that an item is prepared for consumption according to Islamic Law. This includes a very specific method of slaughtering animals.
Hashtag - A word or phrase that is preceded by the pound symbol (#). Used in social media to organize posts and increase likelihood of being found in a search.
High-churn - Customer attrition. It’s the number of customers who leave the purchasing cycle in a certain time period. For example in the food world, most people only need to buy mustard once every few months (or longer) so they leave the sales process for a long period of time.
Kosher - When applied to food, kosher means that an item is prepared for consumption according to Jewish Law. These foods are split into three categories: meat, dairy and pareve (neither meat nor dairy e.g., eggs and fish).
Local and direct - Farmers sell directly to consumers at regional farmers’ markets or to schools.
Low Sodium - Low sodium foods contain 140 mg of sodium or less per serving.
Made from natural ingredients - Product must contain at least 70% natural ingredients that meet the National Ingredient Resource Center criteria.
Manufactured food product - Food that has undergone any process to change it from the original natural state.
Marketing - A general term to describe process of promoting and selling products or services. Includes research, advertising, copywriting, and direct sales.
Marketing Recipe - The Condiment Marketing Co.’s term for a marketing strategy. It’s a simple one-page document that outlines all the critical pieces of a marketing plan.
Media advisory - A hybrid of a press release and an invitation distributed to media to announce an upcoming event.
Media library - A place to store video and image files for use in marketing collateral.
Medium - The category of marketing tactic and/or the individual distribution method for a specific tactic. For example, blogging is one medium (category) and guest blogging on saucemania.com (individual tactic).
Mention - When a publication, website, or social media user talks about a business or person.
Microcontent - A few words that are easily scanned by the reader. Often used to describe a phrase that summarizes or entices someone to read a larger piece of content. (e.g., a social media post that promotes a blog post)
Mini-brand stories - Smaller, nuanced stories explored through all content including blog, social media, newsletter, and other marketing mediums where there is time to build relationships with customers/readers.
Mock-up - A basic, preliminary sketch, by hand or digitally, of a design. Often used to describe the initial outline of a website or infographic.
Natural Food - The FDA has never adopted a formal definition for the term “natural,” but they do consider it to mean that nothing synthetic or artificial (all color additives) has been added to a food.
Niche market - Not mainstream, but rather a small, well-defined group of people.
No Antibiotics Used - Label for meat or poultry where antibiotics were not used for routine care, disease prevention or treatment of disease.
No Hormones Administered - Beef or dairy cattle that have been raised without the use of hormones (usually used to speed up growth). FYI, hormones are not allowed in the production of any poultry or pork in the United States.
Non-GMO - Food that contains less than 1% of genetic modification. See definition above for Genetically Modified Organism (GMO).
Official launch stage - Fourth stage of business lifecycle where a business is equipped to fill large orders and announce a product to the world.
Opted in - When a person subscribes to a newsletter.
Organic Food - Produced by farmers who follow rules necessary to be certified by The USDA National Organic Program (NOP). These rules include producing meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy from animals who have not been given growth hormones or antibiotics. Organic food must also be produced without using pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, bio-engineering, sewage sludge, or ionizing radiation. Not only do farmers have to be certified organic, but the grocery stores and restaurants that handle or process the food have to be certified too.
Organic traffic - Website visitors who find a site from a general search engine query (non-paid advertising).
Pay-per-click advertising - Online advertising where advertisers pay every time someone sees an advertisement or clicks through an ad to visit a site.
Perishable - Food with a limited shelf life if it's not refrigerated.
Pitch - An explicit explanation of why a business or idea is newsworthy.
Polished brand - A Condiment Marketing Co. term for an intentionally defined and nurtured brand.
Pop up restaurant - Restaurants that operate from a private home, former factory or similar space, and during festivals for a limited period of time. Also called supper clubs or temporary restaurants.
Press kit - A series of documents and files designed for a journalist.
Press release - A one or two-page document that outlines a piece of news for a reporter to print verbatim or use as inspiration for a larger story.
Product photography - Photos for a website, advertising, and other materials that require professional photos to sell a product. Not memes or social media style photos.
Product position - Consumer perception of product attributes.
Product settling - The product inside a bag or jar falls to the bottom or sides of packaging.
Public relations - Efforts taken to foster relations between a company and the public. Often geared toward the media.
Quality assurance - A person or department within a food company/manufacturer that work together to assure that the food we consume is of the highest quality.
Ranking - A website’s position in the search engines.
Recyclable - In food businesses, packaging that can be turned into something new. Most plastics, glass, cardboard and metals are recyclable.
Relationship marketing - A type of marketing that focuses on customer happiness and retention.
Return on investment (ROI) - The revenue earned as a result of an investment minus the initial expense.
Sales sheet - A one or two-page document to provide to commercial buyers that neatly explains the business, product, and what to do next. Often combined with an order form. Also called a catalog sheet, wholesale sheet, one-sheet.
Search engine optimization (SEO) - The practice of optimizing a website so that it shows up high in search engine results pages.
Serving suggestion - A recommendation from the source for how to consume the product. Not always a recipe. Sometimes a method for consumption.
Sitemap - A list of pages on a website.
Slogan - A slogan is a phrase describing a specific product or campaign. What you might see on marketing materials or in a commercial.
Slotting fee - The fee a retailer may require for shelf space.
Social media - Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
Social proof - Consumers are more likely to take action (e.g., like a Facebook page or purchase a product) if others have proven they like the product as well.
Soft launch stage - Third stage of business lifecycle where the brand is in place, product production happens in a commercial kitchen, and the business seeks retail partners before marketing to the masses.
Specialty food - Uncommon, small batch food items made from high-quality ingredients.
Spill shot - A picture of a product falling out of its packaging into a beautiful display.
Story - A brand story is a subtle element of a marketing strategy. It's the details of a business' evolution including the people, the products, and the experiences of it all. A brand story underlines all content.
Strategy - A plan for achieving a goal or set of goals.
Style guide - An internal business document that lists preferences for graphic design and content.
Sugar Free - The FDA defines sugar free to mean less than 0.5 grams of sugars per labeled serving. Most sugar free foods contain artificial sweeteners and are low in calories.
Sustainable - Food methods of harvesting that avoid damaging or wasting natural resources or contributing to climate change.
Tagline - A concise, memorable catchphrase used to summarize a business’ mission and the products or services it offers. The bit under your business name. What you might see in the logotype.
Trans Fat Free - An unhealthy substance either naturally occurring (found in small amounts in dairy and meat) or artificially made through the hydrogenation of oils. This increases the shelf life of oils and foods that contain them. Food labeling allows foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving to claim "zero" grams of trans fats on their food labels.
Unique selling proposition (USP) - A statement that clearly explains how a business or product is different from the competition.
Usability - The ease of which a website user can navigate a website and get the information desired.
Value added product - A product that has been changed from its original state to something new. For example, fruit into chutney.
Vegan - A person who's diet excludes food that comes from animals and who abstains from using animal products for clothing or any other purpose.
Vegetarian - A person who's diet excludes meat.
Website design - The layout, images, and color scheme of a website.
Website development - The behind-the-scenes infrastructure of a website (the code). A developer is responsible for integrating the design into the site and making everything function properly.
Wireframe - The skeleton of a website that does not contain design elements, only an outline of what is to come.