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The process of taking food that you have crafted and perfected over time in your kitchen and turning it into a product that you can market and sell requires careful preparation and planning. The key to producing your own food involves starting small and developing a local buzz, following proper legal regulations and sanitation standards, securing a production facility to make and package your product, and developing a consistent way to bring the product to market.
Create the recipes that you will use to make your food product and adjust them so that you can mass produce the items in a way that they can withstand traveling long distances and be shelf stable for weeks and months at a time. Start out small, focusing on a particular niche product, such as sauces, jams or baked goods; you can expand your product line at a later date if you'd like.
Develop a local following. Sell your products at local events such as farmer's markets, flea markets and church bazaars. Contact the manager at your local grocery store and discuss putting your product on their grocery shelves. Be prepared to offer them samples and to discuss your recipes and your sanitation steps.
Obtain all licenses, permits and certifications. Check with your local government or Small Business Administration office to find out what sort of licenses, such as a food vending license, or permits, such as a food handler's card or ServSafe certification, you will need to be able to produce food products for sale.
Secure commercial kitchen space or contract the production work to make your food product out to a commercial packer; making the items in your kitchen will be fine initially, but as the scope of your business grows, you will need to increase your production space. Contact a food broker through your local university extension office or a food trade association to help you locate a packer who meets your specific needs.
Protect yourself against liabilities for business debts and obligations by forming a limited liability company. Set up your company through a business attorney or an online self-serve company. Set up a bank account that is specifically tied to your business and not your personal accounts to protect you against any liability as well.
Create an eye-catching container. Come up with a name for your product that sets it apart from any potential competition. Develop a container that is primarily functional but also appealing to the eye. Use labeling that is attention-getting and informative at the same time. Include all ingredients and nutritional information on your label as well as any allergy indications.
Hire a stable workforce if you're producing the food products yourself. Look for people who have experience in the food service industry and who share your passion about food. Advertise in local publications, and review resumes. Conduct personal interviews with potential candidates yourself to find people that mesh with your personality and work ethic.
Set up a website to sell your food product online. Use website-making software or have the website developed by a webmaster. The site should contain a page that has detailed information about the products you're selling. There also should be a contact page with an email address, phone number and mailing address, as well as a page to purchase the product. Include any shipping and handling charges when setting up your pricing structure. Invest in search engine optimization tools to get your website forwardly placed in the major search engines. Use crush-proof packaging and cushioning materials to ship your food products.
Based in Virginia Beach, Mark S. Baker has been working in editorial for more than 20 years. He has served as a writer and editor for publications such as the "Houston Post," "Boca Raton News" and "Interactive Week," among others. Baker also has a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University and has his own catering business.