small scale food business ideas

The Best Small Scale Food Business Ideas and Resources

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Thinking about starting a Food Business?

Five years ago I had a two-year-old and an infant when I jumped into starting a small scale food business. I wasn’t thinking about where I was going with this business, I just started baking.

At that point, I had recently realized that I was suffering from Postpartum depression and was trying to do more things for myself. I love to bake and my Aunt and Uncle wanted to offer gluten-free baked goods for their cafe so it seemed like a win-win situation.

My scatterbrained start actually led to a real, profitable business. It took some time but I found a niche, created some great products and started wholesaling.

I can’t say I recommend starting a business with so little thought, but since you are here looking at food business ideas you are probably trying to plan better than I did. My site has tons of resources that can help you including Everything You Need to Know About Starting a Small Scale Business. This will lead you to all sorts of helpful resources for starting and running your own business.

Great list of small scale food business ideas! I never would have thought of some of these! Plus, tons of info to help you get your business started.

Food Business Resources

Before starting a food business you need to do some serious research about the laws in your area. Every place is different and you could be dealing with overlapping laws for your city and state. Do a Google search of “Cottage Food Laws in (Your City and State)” to get started.

This article from the Small Business Association also lists many of the national laws that have to do with food safety and labeling. And this article has a list of state agencies that issue licenses and permits.

You can also find a ton of food business resources at Small Food Business. There are many articles about Cottage Food Laws by state and you can read all about my granola business!

If you are in an area where you can’t certify your home kitchen, don’t despair! There are many different ways to bring a food product to market.

Do a search for commercial kitchens for rent to see if there are any spaces that rent by the hour. When I outgrew my home kitchen I was able to find a commercial kitchen I could rent and continue to produce my granola myself.

Another option is to use a copacker that will make and package your product for you. Then all you need to do is sell it!


Small Scale Food Business Ideas

Baker

Whether you are baking from your home kitchen or using a copacker there are hundreds of different products you can make. Create a niche with your flavors, items, decorating style or even what you leave out!

  • Cookies – individual or in gift baskets.
  • Muffins – sell on Saturday mornings at your local farmer’s market.
  • Cupcakes – They have been all the rage in the last few years and don’t seem to be slowing down.
  • Bread – Is there anything in the world as yummy as fresh bread? The answer is always no.

Candy Maker or Chocolate Maker

Candy and chocolates sell great packaged as gifts for easy giving. Or let businesses offer them for individual sale at the counter. If you develop a large variety you can set up at markets and sell yourself too.

Ice Cream Maker

This might be a seasonal business depending on where you live but offering specialty ice cream can be a great business. You might be able to figure out a way to sell at local tourist destinations with a truck or stand. Package your ice cream in pints to sell locally or open a seasonal ice cream stand.

Caterer or Personal Chef

Whether you offer entire meals, desserts, or sandwich platters you can find customers for prepared food. Look around your area and see what is already being offered. Find a way to be different from your competition and you will stand out.

You can work out of your licensed kitchen or a commercial kitchen nearby when you are doing large parties. You can also consider using the client’s kitchen in certain situations. If your customer is looking more for meal prep using their kitchen can be perfect.

Cake Decorator

Wedding, birthday parties, graduations, or holidays all call for fancy cakes! If you are an expert cake decorator you can make some good money with this kind of business.


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Cooking Class Teacher

Are you an expert in a certain type of cooking such as gluten-free or Italian? Teach a class! Focus on kids, couples or easy dinners for Moms and get the word out there!

Canning Foods

Got a secret sauce that your friends can’t get enough of? Can it! Some things can be done only in canning facilities depending on acidity and ingredients, so do some research on your local Cottage Food Laws.

  • Sauces
  • Jams and Jellies
  • Dressings
  • Pickles

Food Truck

There are Food Trucks popping up all over now, not just big cities. This can be combined with other ideas such as baked goods or an ethnic specialty.

Juice or Smoothie Bar

Fresh juice and wholefood smoothies are all the rage right now. Not ready for a shop? What about a delivery service?

Nutrition Counseling

There are many people who need help with regular nutrition planning. Get certified and offer your services to help others become healthy.

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Tea Blending

Herbal teas or traditional tea blends are very popular. They can be sold in bulk or individual tea bags. Wholesale to local tea shops or retail in stores and markets.

Coffee Roasting

Offer locally roasted coffee to local coffee shops and restaurants. Sell by the pound in retail shops or local food stores. Sourcing sustainability grown, fair trade coffee makes for an even better product!

Starting a small food business

Cheese Maker

There are many types of specialty cheese that can be made with a variety of milk types. Cows milk, goat or sheep milk or even vegan cheese from nut milk!

Gourmet Popcorn

Flavored popcorn, kettle corn or snack mixes are a great food to sell at markets or events. Prepackaged they can be sold in stores or online.

Bartender for Hire

Are you a bartender? Rent your skills out at parties or events. Clients provide the supplies so all you have to do is show up!

Coffee Service

With the popularity of K-cups lot of offices keep a stock of cups for employees to use. Start a business keeping the office stocked with cups and other supplies. Buying the K-cups in bulk will help you to offer them at a competitive rate.

Farmer’s Market

There are tons of things you can sell at a Farmer’s Market. From fresh baked goods, jams and jellies to produce or flowers you grow in your own garden. All you need is a tent and a table to get started.


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Fresh Pasta

Another item you can make and package for either retail or wholesale.

Food Blogger

Love to cook and take pictures of it? Become a food blogger? You need to be able to take beautiful pictures of your food to be a popular food blogger now, but a blog can be very profitable.

Herb and Spices

Provide small quantities of specialty herbs and spices for cooks who don’t want to buy in bulk.

Vending Machines

There are traditional vending machines but there are also lots of new models that include healthy foods and drinks.

I hope this list of food business ideas helped inspire you in all the different ways you can get started. There are so many different ideas out there. Take your time and plan a sustainable business to set yourself up for a profitable future.

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