How to Start a Spice Business

Do you love cooking? When you cook, do you add a pinch of that and a smidgen of this even if the recipe doesn't call for it? Are you intrigued by different cuisines? Have you always wanted to experiment with combining spices? Perhaps you should start a spice business. It takes some planning and creativity, but you may not have to invest a lot of money to get started.

Check with the local city, county, state and zoning laws to find out what licensing may be necessary. Some homeowner's associations as well as cities ban running a business in your home. You may have to have the place where you assemble the spices inspected for sanitary and health clearance. If that's the case, you may want to find a facility that has passed inspection and use it for the actual assembling.

Find a source for wholesale spices and package materials. Look in your local phone book or do an online search. Spices bought in bulk are much cheaper than in grocery stores. For example, San Francisco Herb Company offers one pound of whole celery seeds for $3.00, which is less than a two-ounce bottle at the grocery store. Packaging materials must be food grade quality and should be designated as such when you buy them.

Decide on how you're going to sell the spices. One idea is to come up with proprietary blends for seasonings. An Italian blend would include basil, oregano, marjoram, garlic powder, onion powder, fennel seeds and parsley. Another might idea is to concentrate on spice mixtures for certain dishes, such as chili, or soups.

Price the packages so they are competitive with gourmet food products. What you're selling is your expertise in putting together the right combination of spices and herbs and the convenience to the customers. Add a benefit for your customers. You might offer a sheet or a recipe booklet of different ways to use your spice mixtures.

Determine where you're going to sell your spices. Grocery stores are probably not an option; most of them require terms small businesses can't accommodate. Boutique gourmet shops may be a possibility, however. Crafts shows, food shows and farmer's markets are other options. Or you may decide to market and sell online exclusively.

Open a business bank account so you can deposit your sales money and pay for expenses separately from your personal or household account. Track and keep receipts to make it easier at tax time to complete the forms.


  • Do your homework before you start your spice business. Know what your product will be, who your customers are, and how you will market.

    Design labels that are attractive and memorable and include on the label how the customer can order more. The labels should be consistent across your product line so customers recognize that the products are yours.


  • If you're required to get special licenses, don't think you can slide under the radar because you're a small business. The penalties and fines can erase whatever profit you may have gained.



About the Author

Katie Jensen's first book was published in 2000. Since then she has written additional books as well as screenplays, website content and e-books. Rosehill holds a Master of Business Administration from Arizona State University. Her articles specialize in business and personal finance. Her passion includes cooking, eating and writing about food.