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How Can I Sell My Home-Canned Foods, Like Jams, Salsa, Sauces, Fruits and Vegetables

Starting a Food Business - How to Start Selling Home-Canned Salsa, Jams and Other Food Products

Do you make a salsa, jam, jelly, sauce, chili, cookie, cake or other food that friends and family rave about and say, "You should sell that!"? Are you are thinking about starting a food business, there are many regulatory requirements that you will need to satisfy; some general and some are specific to a particular food product, such as dairy, low-acid canned food, seafood, or juice. This page will walk you through the basic requirements and resources available.

Food Regulations:

  • Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) requirements,
  • Other federal rules
  • State, and local requirements.

You may want to start by discussing your specific product and facility with the FDA District Office and the state and local regulatory agencies that have jurisdiction.

Where to start

The production and sales of processed foods is governed by state and federal regulations. Each state is different, so proper advice is needed from a specialist in each state. Some states allow sales at farmer's markets of select foods; others prohibit sales altogether. Most states now have cottage food laws now that don't require a licensed kitchen. In those states, you can sell at a farmers market or roadside stand jams and jellies as well as baked goods that don't require refrigeration. Typically, in those states, you just need to label them with the weight or volume, our name, our address, the words "this item is home produced" and all the ingredients in order by weight. Usually, you can not do anything 'acidified' (like pickles), anything pressure canned, or anything needing refrigeration. For this we don't need a licensed kitchen or any inspections. "

Cottage food laws are applicable to very small startup food businesses that sell certain types of food products.

Step 1 - Can I make it as a "Cottage food"?

Step 2 - If not, Is there a licensed commercial kitchen I can use?

Step 3 - If no commercial kitchen is available, can I get a co-packer to make it for me?

Let's look at those options:

Option 1 - States with Cottage Food Laws

The vast majority of us now live in states that either have cottage food laws or exemptions. So, unless you live in KS, ND, MT, NJ or RI, click on the link below:

See this page for specific information for your state - (EXCEPT for Kansas, North Dakota, Montana, New Jersey  and Rhode Island)

So FIRST - check to see if your food and circumstances qualify as a "cottage food" (also called "home food processor" in some states)


States without Cottage food laws or exemptions:

Click here if you live in Kansas, North Dakota, Montana, New Jersey and Rhode Island

 

Option 2 - Can I make it in a commercial kitchen?

A commercial kitchen is a licensed, inspected kitchen that meets the rigorous food safety standards.  Virtually NO home kitchen would meet this, nor pass an inspection.  And it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to try to convert your home kitchen. Don't even think about it. A much better approach is to simply rent a licensed kitchen when it is not in use.  A restaurant that is only open in the evenings for example, may be available in the mornings. See this page for local commercial kitchens that advertised they are for rent.

Option 3 - It isn't a cottage food and I can't find a commercial kitchen to use: Co-Packers

Don't give up. Perhaps what you want to do does not fall under the cottage food laws. In that case, you're starting a regular food business. These pages will help you understand how to do that:

  1. CoPackers: Want to Sell Your Salsa, Preserves, Jams, Etc.? Learn About Using A CoPacker to Prepare It!
  2. Food testing Labs: Selling your Preserves? See This List of Labs that Can Test Your Homemade, Home-Canned Foods

Going Big Time: Registering food Products with the FDA

  • Registration for Acidified and Low-Acid Foods
    If you are producing an acidified or low acid canned food, you must register your facility and your scheduled process. All commercial acidified and low-acid canned food processors located in the United States and all processors in other countries who process acidified or low-acid canned food products for export to the United States must register with the FDA. Processing plants must also submit process filing forms containing scheduled process information for each acidified and low-acid canned food produced, and must meet all other requirements of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act. Importers, wholesalers, distributors, brokers, etc. are excluded from the requirement to register.
  • The registration is done via an online form: FDA - Liberty Food Facility Registration
    This page provides more info (the registration process has been outsources to
    LIBERTY MANAGEMENT GROUP LTD.
    75 Executive Drive, Suite 114, Aurora, Illinois, USA - 60504.
    Phone : +1 (630) 270-2921
    Fax : +1 (815) 986-2632
    E-mail : [email protected].
  • More information can be found here:

Insurance

Starting and running a food business can be a high-risk endeavor. Liability insurance protects against financial losses due to allegations of bodily injury or property damage to others

  • from your product or activities,
  • claims that your product caused injury

Typical policies provide $1 million in coverage. usually, $1 million in coverage is required to rent commercial kitchens or work in kitchen incubators.

You may also want to purchase other types of insurance, like:

  • property insurance,
  • workers compensation,
  • commercial auto insurance,
  • business interruption insurance,
  • disability income protection,

Making Health, Nutrition and Other Claims

Claims like "Organic", "low-fat", "sugar-free", "a good source of", etc., are regulated by the government. There are federal regulations that limit the kinds of claims you make and how they may be used. You will certainly need to check with a lawyer who specializes in the food industry, and a food lab to test the claims.

The FDA's page about allowable claims and requirements is here. Also see this page: FDA Label Claims for Conventional Foods and Dietary Supplements

You will be required to also provide a nutrition facts label.

See US FDA Food Labeling Guide (PDF) (downloaded Oct 2020)

and the

Allowable Nutrient Claims were established by the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act:

Related stories and articles

Books

Sell Your Specialty Food: Market, Distribute, and Profit from Your Kitchen Creation (Paperback)
by Stephen Hall

In Sell Your Specialty Food, Stephen Hall outlines every food marketing opportunity and then supports entrepreneurial action with detailed guidance. Whether you own a business or you are thinking about starting one, Hall will show you how to:

  • Identify a winning product and its most appropriate markets.
  • Get your product ready to market.
  • Advertise, promote, and sell your product.
  • Create your own success niche. Professionalize your business.
  • Also included is updated information about the role of the Internet, health and organic food markets, the latest government regulations and technological advances, and contact information for dozens of valuable resources.

How to Start a Home-Based Catering Business, 5th (Home-Based Business Series) (Paperback)
by Denise Vivaldi

Description
From pricing your services to honing your food presentation skills, this comprehensive guide provides a wealth of information about building a home-based catering business.
From the Back Cover
Are you passionate about parties? Do you live to cook? Now you can realize your dream of working from home at something you enjoy - a home-based catering business. Author Denise Vivaldo shares her experiences and advice on every aspect of setting up and running a thriving home-based catering business, from estimating your start-up costs and finding clients to outfitting your kitchen and staying profitable. She even offers tips on the latest high-tech help, including CD-ROM recipe books, culinary Web sites, and computer software designed especially for chefs and caterers. Learn all about defining your market niche, selling yourself as a pro, establishing your daily schedule, pricing your services, organizing parties with ease, honing your food presentation skills, avoiding the 10 most common home-based mistakes and much more.

Homemade for Sale: How to Set Up and Market a Food Business from Your Home Kitchen Paperback

March 24, 2015
by Lisa Kivirist (Author), John D. Ivanko (Author)

Homemade for Sale is the a guide to conceiving and launching your own home-based food start-up. Packed with profiles of successful cottage food entrepreneurs, this book covers everything you need to get cooking for your customers, creating items that by their very nature are specialized and unique.

Other food business links

Federal Resources for Small Businesses

Credit is due to NC State Extension, VPI (Virginia Tech), Brian A. Nummer, Ph.D. and Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph. D., both of the National Center for Home Food Preservation for most of this information!

If you have any information to update this synopsis, please write me!

Cooperative Extension Program Links and State Food Regulations

State Resources
Alabama Starting A Food Processing Business? What You Should Know Before You Get Started
(HE-753, New May 1998, Alabama Cooperative Extension System)

(PDF version of above)

Alabama Extension Food Safety

Getting a Food Processing Permit in Alabama

PDF Starting a Food Processing Business

Nutrition Facts Labeling Services - Alabama Cooperative Extension

Alaska State food safety contacts for Cooperative Extension Service, Alaska:

Alaska Cooperative Extension Food and Health Programs

Alaska Division of Environmental Health Opening A New Food Establishment

Fairbanks Test Kitchen, Alaska Cooperative Extension

CERTIFIED FOOD PROTECTION MANAGER TRAINING

Cooperative Extension Service
Fairbanks State Office
1751 Tanana Loop, Room 101, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775-6180
Phone: 907-474-5211
877-520-5211 (toll free in Alaska)
Email: [email protected]


Arizona Direct Farm Marketing and Tourism Handbook
University of Arizona, Agricultural and Resource Economics
California University of California-Davis, UC Food Safety From Kitchen to Market Manufacturing Options, Getting Started in the Food Business

University of California Food Safety Home page
Colorado Colorado Farm to Market Website:

Colorado Farm to Table Food Safety:

State food safety contacts for Cooperative Extension Service, Colorado

Connecticut Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship
(A Partnership of Cornell University and University of Vermont)

New England Food Entrepreneurs website

University of Connecticut Starting A Food Processing Business

Starting A Food-Based Business
Connecticut State Department of Consumer Protection


Delaware University of Delaware Food Safety Programs

Checklist to Open a Business in Delaware:

Florida University of Florida Center for Agribusiness

Florida University of Florida Food Entrepreneurship in Florida series
Georgia Getting Started in the Food Specialty Business,
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service Bulletin 1051: PDF

Is Your Agribusiness Project Feasible (PDF)?,
University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service Bulletin 1066: (pdf only)


Starting a New Food Business in Georgia, with helpful links to regulations and University of Georgia Food Science and Technology resources available to help:


Step-by-Step Guidelines for Processing, Manufacturing, and Regulatory Approval of Acidified Foods in Georgia

University of Georgia Extension Service Bulletin 1455 (PDF)

Georgia Food Licenses

Georgia Department of Agriculture Cottage Food Program

Hawaii University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service - Some Costs and Considerations for Establishing an Entrepreneurial Community Shared-Use Kitchen or Test-Kitchen Incubator (PDF), Publication FMT-2:

State of Hawaii Department of Health, Food Information


Idaho University of Idaho, Food Science and Toxicology Web Site, Food Processing Extension Programs:

Idaho University of Idaho Food Technology Center

Illinois University of Illinois, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics Website
Illinois Specialty Farm Products

Market Maker website
Indiana Purdue University, Department of Food Science,
Value-Added Processing Assistance Website


Purdue University, Department of Food Science, Pilot Plant

Purdue University, Department of Food Science, Home Based Vendors:

Purdue University, Department of Food Science, Workshop Offerings including Starting a Specialty Food Business in Indiana
Iowa Iowa State University Extension,
Website - Kitchen Incubators & Other Food-Related Small Business:


Iowa Laws: Sale of Home-Prepared Foods (PDF) Iowa State University Extension Publication PM 1294

Starting a Home-Based Food Business in Iowa, Iowa State University Extension Publication PM 1294 (PDF)

Kansas Kansas State University, Department of Animal Sciences and Industry Kansas Department of Agriculture Starting A Food Business


Kansas State University Value Added Foods Lab
Kentucky Home-Based Business: Making and Selling Food Products in Kentucky (PDF),
University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service Publication H.E. 9-100:
University of Kentucky Food Systems Innovation Center

Kentucky Food Safety Branch website

Louisiana Louisiana State University, Food Science Department

Maine

Bulletin #3101, Recipe to Market: How to Start a Specialty Food Business in Maine (PDF)

Maine Bulletin 3007-Home-Based Business Fact Sheet Starting a Home Business (PDF)

New England Food Entrepreneurs
Maryland Maryland Rural Enterprise Development Center- Providing T- Providing Tools for Business Success:

Maryland's 2012 Cottage Food Business Law (PDF)

University of Maryland Extension (EB-416) Turning Out Your Product: From Food Safety to Marketing, There's a Lot You'll Need to Know (PDF)

MassachusettsNortheast Center for Food Entrepreneurship

University of Massachusetts Food Science Starting A Small Food Business

Massachusetts Department of Public Health Starting A Wholesale Food Business

New England Food Entrepreneurs website

Michigan Food Regulations For Small Home Business,
Michigan State University Extension Publication Small Business Bulletin E317921:
Starting a successful cottage food business in Michigan

Michigan State University Product Center
Minnesota Starting a Food Business in Minnesota,
Minnesota Department of Agriculture Publication:

If you want to open a new food business and don't know where to start, try the Food Licensing and Food Safety Wizard.

If you have further questions, please fill out the pre-consultation questionnaire for a referral to the MDA Licensing Liaison.

If you currently own a licensed food business and want to expand, remodel, or relocate your existing business, want to sell your existing business, or want to begin the licensing process, please call 651-201-6062 or email [email protected].

Food License Types:


University of Minnesota, Department of Food Science and Nutrition Website -Pilot Plant

Guide to Starting a Local Food Business in Minneapolis (PDF)

University of Minnesota, Department of Food Science and Nutrition Pilot Plant:


Mississippi Mississippi State University Food and Fiber Center, Extension Service Publications

Mississippi State Department of Health Food Facilities and Permits

Mississippi Food As A Business Mississippi State University Extension (PDF)
Missouri State of Missouri - Frequently asked questions

Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, Industry Foods

University of Missouri Farmer and Food Business Resources


Montana Montana Department of Agriculture Start A Farm or Food Business

MSU Food and Nutrition Extension site

Nebraska University of Nebraska, The Food Processing Center

University of Nebraska, The Food Processing Center Food Entrepreneur Assistance Program:

University of Nebraska, The Food Processing Center Web Site
Nevada State food safety contacts for Cooperative Extension Service, Nevada:

Small Business Development in rural Nevada

New Hampshire New Hampshire Specialty Food Producers Handbook and Resource Guide,
University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Publication:

Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship, (A Partnership of Cornell University and the University of Vermont):
New Jersey Rutgers State University, NJ Agricultural Experiment Station - Food Innovation Research & Extension Center (FIRE):
  • So You Want to be a Food Manufacturer.
    You have a fantastic new idea for a food product. Everyone who tastes it tells you that it's really great. Some even suggest that you should go into business for yourself. After giving it some careful thought you decide you will go into business and sell your product. But where do you go from here?
    Rutgers Cooperative Extension

New Mexico New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service (PDF)

New Mexico State University Food Technology

New York Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship (at Cornell University)

New York State Food Venture Center Publications (at Cornell University):

North Carolina North Carolina State University, Cooperative Extension
Getting Started in a Food Business

Food Product Testing
Nutritional Labeling
NC Services and Supplies
NC Food Resources
Marketing Assistance from NCDA and CS
NC State and Federal Resources for Small Businesses
NC Food Workshops and Events
NC New Food Business Publications
NC Food Business Frequently Asked Questions

North Carolina State University Extension, Entrepreneur Initiative for Food

North Carolina State University, Cooperative Extension Web Site -Publications for Developing a Food Business


North Dakota Food Entrepreneur, your Resource Guide to the Food Industry,
North Dakota State University Extension Service Online publication:

Developing a New Co-Owned Agricultural Business: How do we Start a Value-Added Firm?,
North Dakota State University Extension Service Publication EC-1137:

North Dakota State University
Food Entrepreneur: Your Resource Guide to the Food Industry


Ohio Ohio State University, Food Science and Technology Gould Food Industries Center:


Oklahoma OSU Oklahoma Food and Agricultural Products Research and Technology Center

Oregon Oregon State university and Oregon Department of Agriculture Food Innovation Center

Oregon State University, Extension Service News Release (and contact for Food Marketing Specialist) -
OSU to Offer "Food School":

Pennsylvania Penn State University, Department of Food Science Resources for Small Food Processors & Potential Entrepreneurs

Rhode Island Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship
(A Partnership of Cornell University and University of Vermont):

South Carolina Starting a Food Business: An Overview ,
Clemson Extension Home & Garden Information Center Publication HGIC 3867:

Starting a Food Business: 2020 Overview
South Dakota South Dakota Department of Agriculture, Division of Ag Development Web Site -
The Value Added And Crop Marketing Program

South Dakota State University Extension Requirements for Food Entrepreneurs Selling Food in South Dakota

Tennessee Getting Started in a Food Manufacturing Business in Tennessee (PDF),
University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service Publication PB1399

Starting Your Own Wine Business, University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service Publication PB1688 (PDF)


Design and Construction of Food Processing Operations (PDF),
University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service Publication ADC Info #18:

Texas Texas A&M University, Texas Cooperative Extension Web Site -
Home-Based & Micro Business, Entrepreneurship

Adding Value to Agricultural Products,Texas A and M University Agricultural Extension Service Publication L-5361

Evaluating Your Value-Added Business Plan, Texas A and M University Agricultural Extension Service Publication L-5438

Texas A M University, Texas AgriLifeExtension, Food Processing Entrepreneurs

Thinking about becoming a Food Entrepreneur? You may want to review the following articles and decide if it is the right move for you.

  • SBA.gov - Is Entrepreneurship for you?
    In business, there are no guarantees. There is simply no way to eliminate all the risks associated with starting a small business - but you can improve your chances of success with good planning, preparation, and insight.
    U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Selling Food Products (PDF)
    Finding a market, studying the competition, licensing, facilities and appliances, food cost pricing, marketing, promotion, food processing and safety.
    Iowa State University
  • So You Want to be a Food Manufacturer.
    You have a fantastic new idea for a food product. Everyone who tastes it tells you that it's really great. Some even suggest that you should go into business for yourself. After giving it some careful thought you decide you will go into business and sell your product. But where do you go from here?
    Rutgers Cooperative Extension
  • Specialty Food Magazine
    Official Magazine of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, an international organization composed of domestic and foreign manufacturers, importers, distributors, brokers, retailers, restaurateurs, caterers and others in the specialty foods business.



Utah Utah State University Food Safety Programs

Vermont Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship
(A Partnership of Cornell University and University of Vermont)

University of Vermont Extension Food Safety Manufacturers and Processors

State of Vermont Food Safety Programs

Virginia Starting a Food Processing Business in Virginia (PDF),
Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension Publication 348-963:

Starting a Food Business in Virginia (website)

Virginia Cooperative Extension Food as a Business website

Va Tech Extension Resources for Food Business

Washington Washington State University Extension Food Processing

Washington State Cottage Foods (PDF)
,
Washington State University Cooperative Extension Publication EB-1902

Value-Added Enterprises for Small-Scale Farmers, Washington State University (PDF) Cooperative Extension, King County, Agriculture and Natural Resources Fact Sheet #518:



West Virginia West Virginia Bureau for Public Health Food Safety Program

Wisconsin University of Wisconsin, Cooperative Extension Starting a Value-Added Farm-Food Business

University of Wisconsin, Cooperative Extension:
Food Business Innovation Network


Wisconsin Food Processing - Food Sales Requirements (PDF)
Wyoming Wyoming Business Council Division of Agriculture.
If your business is agriculture-related, the Wyoming Business Council Division of Agriculture may be able to offer you assistance with marketing, market research and training. Call Bill Bunce at (307) 777-6581.

Wyoming Business Council Promoting Products Made in Wyoming

University of Wyoming, Small Business Development Center

Wyoming Department of Agriculture Food Industry Guidance

Wyoming Small Business Development Network

Credit is due to Brian A. Nummer, Ph.D. and Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph. D., both of the National Center for Home Food Preservation for most of this information!


Above is the
2020 version of
the Ball Blue Book