Starting a Food-Based Business

In 2011, the Florida Legislature enacted House bill 7209 allowing individuals to make and sell certain food items from their home. According to the Florida Division of Food Safety, these “cottage food operations” do not require a license from the state of Florida and include items such as breads, cakes, jams, jellies, and fruit pies. Individuals cannot make more than $15,000 in sales per year and must sell directly to the consumer.

What if you produce foods outside of the parameters of the Cottage Food Law? Then you probably need to check out a certified commercial kitchen. Blue Oven Kitchens is a local non-profit kitchen incubator that “provides access to inspected, commercial kitchen space while also providing business support services.” They are currently fundraising to build a rental space and host a handy Facilities & Referral Service. Their resources page lists information for food entrepreneurs including workshops, training, general information, and includes links to the IFAS Food Safety and Quality Program.

Need some foodie-turned-entrepreneur inspiration? Check out 7 Women Who Turned Their Passion for Food into a Career, or Food Trucks 101: How to Start a Mobile Food Business and these Food Business Ideas from Entrepreneur Magazine.

The Alachua County Library District provides access to the Business Plans Handbook through the Gale Virtual Reference database. Search within the Business Plans Handbook for “food” to see many sample plans for ideas.

Recommended business reads:
Sell Your Specialty Food: Market, Distribute, and Profit from Your Kitchen Creation by Stephen F.Hall
Start & Run a Home-Based Food Business by Mimi Shotland Fix

Fun reads:
Chew by John Layman: A graphic novel series in which a detective gets psychic impressions from everything he eats.
Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front by local foods pioneer Joe Salatin.

Posted by eBranch on January 13, 2012