Bakers and chefs galore dream about being able to create a delicious food concoction from home which is popular enough to become a full-time business venture. However, the manufacture of food is very difficult owing to complicated food safety guidelines regulated by a number of government agencies. Compliance with these guidelines can be very costly, as can be the process of marketing your food product to interested consumers. Keep your budget in mind throughout the process of starting your homemade food business.
Research state and federal guidelines on kitchen and packing safety standards for commercially sold foods. Nationally, these standards are created by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA; FDA standards for packaging and manufacture must be followed if goods are sold interstate or if out-of-state products are used in the creation of your food product. Contact a local college or university offering a food science program or agricultural extension program for information about state and federal guidelines.
Create a kitchen space that will satisfy state and federal health guidelines for cooking and packaging your homemade food product. It can cost $50,000 or more to convert a conventional home kitchen into a commercial-grade kitchen containing all necessary cooking and cleaning equipment. Alternatively, you might be able to save money by working out an agreement to rent a licensed kitchen from a restaurant or other food service company during their off-hours.
Contact all appropriate state and federal agencies and set up appointments for inspections of your kitchen and packing areas. Small food businesses can contact the FDA through its Division of Small Manufacturers, International and Consumer Assistance. State agencies typically have different safety standards for different food groups, as hygienic packing and storage procedures vary widely. For instance, the Wisconsin Division of Food Safety issues two different food processing plant licenses, one for acidic foods like citrus, which raise less safety concerns, and another for low-acidic meats and vegetables. You may also have to provide proof of lab testing of your products for shelf life and other characteristics.
Complete the setup of your business operations. This includes contacting your local and state government to register for all required business licenses. Because the sale of homemade food products is often considered retail, you may be required to collect sales tax and register for a tax identification number through your state.
Market your goods to local vendors who can help you sell your homemade food product to local consumers. These can include local grocery stores, convenience stores and farmer's markets. Contact your local chamber of commerce to get more information on local farmer's markets or grocery stores which sell locally produced goods. You may also increase your client list by registering your products for sale with online food vendors specializing in homemade products, such as Foodzie.
Advertise your homemade food product in various publications and other listings that target your niche audience. Homemade food manufacturers derive much of their success through local sales, so advertising in local newspapers or penny savers is a good idea. Depending on the success of your product, you may also increase awareness through catered service at parties or other gatherings.