I recently visited a commercial kitchen which is part of a Community Development Corporation – a non-profit designed to encourage development in the community or region it serves. In this case the commercial kitchen is designed to help fledgling food businesses get off the ground by providing them business support in developing their food product to scale production, creating a business plan that works and getting necessary certifications. Once approved a fledgling food entrepreneur can rent production space including equipment by the hour, and use dry, refrigerated or freezer storage by the week. This space is also available to local non-profits such as Meals on Wheels, a meal delivery service for the elderly.
If you are thinking about getting started and don’t have a commercial kitchen near you, you could consider using a restaurant kitchen in its off hours.
Here are things to consider courtesy of the Franklin County CDC:
- Business Plan: get your ideas and goals in one document. Define your products, market and competitors. How much money will you need?
- Product Development: small batch testing. then lab analysis leads to scale up and testing and onto packaging and labeling
- Regulations: State licensing is required to sell wholesale and local licensing for retail. Meat and poultry require USDA approval. The FDA cares about products requiring acidification. The Bioterrorism Act requires FDA registration for all domestic food producers. Plus you need liability insurance.
We talked a lot about what kind of packaging works for different products and where the highest returns are in selling food products and how packaging supports that value perception. We also discussed what packaging can the kitchen justify buying as opposed to the brand owner.
As a food entrepreneur, you may be able to use a commercial or restaurant kitchen to create your product, but you may need to purchase your own packaging machinery, if you want to be able differentiate your product.
For more information about becoming a food entrepreneur, visit The Foodpreneur. For information about entry level overwrapping machinery for boxes or bundles look here, and for wrapping individual food items look here.