Cottage Food Industry

Discussion in 'Work-at-Home Business' started by PrairieClover, Sep 15, 2017.

  1. PrairieClover

    PrairieClover Well-Known Member

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    From what I have seen here on the work-at-home business forum, there isn't a side forum for those who bake or prepare foods at home and then sell to others and I don't see much in the threads on it, unless it's an old thread.
    There are some decent websites about state laws, for instance http://forrager.com/laws/

    I don't know anyone personally who has a home-based food business but am hoping to get input or experience from others here who have a home-based food business, whether in my state or not. Each state does have it's own laws or in some cases, nearly forbids any home-based food production and selling.
    At one time we did know a couple who started a home-based food business but they apparently got so stinkin' rich off of it they don't have time to answer my questions about it. (I'm not kidding). Of course, they also moved far away and have started up several other businesses, but I digress. Good for them, huh.
    Some supporters of the cottage food industry have Facebook pages, so there's that too.
    I don't have any specific questions, just post your story on how you got started and we'll go from there.
     
  2. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Around here things like that are regulated beyond measure! You will need a certified kitchen and extensive labeling etc after you take the test to get your food permit. Then you can only do sweets like candy and cinnamon rolls. For preparing meals there are several more hoops to wander through.
     

  3. PrairieClover

    PrairieClover Well-Known Member

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    I read it had gotten much easier to jump through the hoops in AZ.
    I do not get the impression a certified kitchen is required.
    Many baked items are allowed, cookies, bread, bagels, tortillas, etc. True, there are a lot of things not allowed.
    Getting a food handler's permit is not that hard in most states, and there are over 6,000 home-based food businesses in AZ. You're also not limited on where you can sell it and there is no limit on how much you can make doing it.
     
  4. PlayingInDirt

    PlayingInDirt Well-Known Member

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    I don't have a business but I've looked into it. I'm planning on getting my license at some point. The requirements and costs are fairly minimal here in CA. I'm interested in seeing what others have to say on the subject.

    Here you can sell baked goods, candies, jams and pickles with a cottage food license. My goal in getting my license would be purely side business and to sell at farmers markets etc.
     
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  5. Skandi

    Skandi Well-Known Member

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    Denmark
    Of no use to you becasuse I am in a different country, but just for interest. I can make jelly, pickles, juices etc and sell them direct from my farm or up to 7 markets a year just using an uninspected domestic kitchen without any problems so long as I sell less than $6k as soon as I go over that, I then need a full certified kitchen and everything has to have a nutritional sticker, which costs more really than getting a full kitchen put in!
     
  6. PrairieClover

    PrairieClover Well-Known Member

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    Skandi, that's not too bad.
    I think sometimes people overthink the law which is why it is so helpful to read about current trends, know others who are operating a CFI and to be in touch with a group who is in the forefront of the lawmaking for CFI practices.
    For instance, in some states you can't use commercial-sized appliances or have a special built kitchen to make it in. In others, you can rent a kitchen from a church. I don't see that big of a deal out of an ingredients label, but a nutritional sticker? That's too controlling.
    Some states require a kitchen that is inspected by the health department at the start. Some states you can't sell anywhere but at a roadside stand or farmer's market.
     
  7. hiddensprings

    hiddensprings Well-Known Member

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    Minnesota
    I've had a home-based baking business in both Tennessee and now in Minnesota. When I first ventured into it in Tennessee, I had to attend classes, have my kitchen inspected, have my ingredients stored separately from my personal ingredients and allow the USDA inspector access to my kitchen whenever he wanted to visit. It took a year to get it all together and I was lucky to have an awesome inspector that really worked with me. About a year after I was licensed, the state changed the rules and you didn't have to jump through as many hoops. Minnesota is much easier IMO. I had to take a class, but it was pretty simple and be licensed but worth it. I just bake breads, bagels, cakes, etc to sell at the farmer's market. next year when my herbs come in, I'll be doing herbal jellies as well. It definitely worth it for me. I love to bake and rarely ever bring anything home from the market.
     
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  8. PrairieClover

    PrairieClover Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for sharing some of your story, hiddensprings.
    I have questions for you.
    If labels are required with ingredients listed, did you make your own with your own printer?
    How much did you chance to bake the first few times? How far ahead do you bake? Do you freeze any of your products before selling? I mean, you can only bake so much at a time.
    How many loaves can you bake at a time in the oven? Did you have to adjust your bake time?
    Do you use store-bought plastic bags or buy something else wholesale?
    Are you offering artisan loaves? What are your specialties and what sells the best? How did you know what price to ask? Do you have stiff competition?
    I'm sorry, I know I've asked a lot. I hope you can answer my questions. Thanks!!
     
  9. hiddensprings

    hiddensprings Well-Known Member

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    No worries on the questions. I'm glad to answer them....just sorry for the delay.
    1. Labels: Yes, they were required in my state. I had to list what was in the item; largest amount to the smallest. I just printed them myself on labels that I bought. Once I had them set up, it was easy to print and stick them on.
    2. I baked on Thursday and Fridays for the Saturday market so everything was as fresh as possible. I didn't freeze anything.
    3. I could bake about 12 loaves of one type of bread at a time, but rarely did that much. I tired to do a variety of items. So maybe 6 loaves of plain white bread, some artisan loaves, bread sticks, flat bread, cinnamon roles, and when I had fruit in season, I did cobblers.
    4. When I first started I just used some bread bags that I bought at the grocery store. once I had gotten established, I bought nicer bags online from a bakery wholesaler.
    5. Its hard to say what was the most popular. Folks loved the cinnamon rolls (pain in the butt to make and sooooo time consuming!), cobblers (especially when they fruit was in season) and the garlic breadsticks. I never made cakes or cupcakes....just not my thing. Like I said earlier, I tried to have a variety and would take orders from folks for the next market if, for example, I ran out of the cinnamon rolls they liked.
    6. Pricing is always difficult. Most of my items were between $5.00 and $7.00. I played with pricing a bit until I found what would work at my market. If I had gone to the market in a larger city, I would have charged more but then the market there could handle it. I was in a smaller town so prices couldn't be as high.
    7. I didn't have a lot of competition. There were two other ladies that did baking. One was strictly a cupcake girl.....again, not my thing. the other lady did sour dough breads. I just made sure that I was doing something different from the other ladies. It gave more variety to the market and we weren't in direct competition with each other.

    i think it is most important that you do what you love to do. That will show in your final product and will help you sell more. I really enjoy it. Good luck to you! And, let me know if you have any other questions.
     
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