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Can You Sell Homemade Food Online?

Whether you bake delicious homemade cookies or you’ve noticed a need in the market for vegan products, it may be time for you to launch your own business. With a market in the U.S. that is estimated at around $946 billion, the food industry is obviously a lucrative one. A question that new players in the food industry often ask is “Can you sell homemade food online?” The short answer is “Yes, you definitely can.” However, since food can potentially make people sick, strict regulations are in place that you need to be aware of. To find out how to start your own successful online food business from home, read on.

Why Should You Sell Food Online From Home?

For customers, the benefits of ordering food online are multiple. Shopping online provides them with a broad choice of goods. Plus, they can browse through multiple sites and order precisely what they want from the comfort of their homes.

Especially since the advent of Covid, the demand for online food products has increased dramatically. Since clients have now realized how convenient this form of shopping is, chances are that it's here to stay. This means that if you have a good and affordable product, a professional website, and an effective marketing campaign, it should be relatively easy for you to build up a solid customer base.

For first-time small-business owners, selling homemade food online is an easy and affordable way to start a business. Apart from saving on rental costs and expensive equipment, you have much lower, or no, staffing costs. Plus, you get to make money from doing something you love.

What Food Product Should I Sell?

Deciding what precisely it is that you’re going to sell is one of the most important considerations when it comes to starting your online business. Remember that you need to be extra careful with food products since they can potentially make people sick. For this reason, opting for goods that don’t easily spoil will make life much easier. In addition, the cottage food laws only allow for the selling of shelf-stable and non-potentially hazardous foods.

Types of foods to consider include canned and pickled goods, teas, dried herbs, and baked goods, such as cookies and fudge. That said, it’s always important to stick to what you do best. If your cupcakes elicit “wow” responses from people, it’s worth finding an innovative packaging solution for the shipment and delivery of this product.

Also, you need to focus on finding a niche market. Are you going to focus on a certain type of cuisine or are you going to make a specific ingredient the hero? Lastly, always check out the competition. You don’t want to enter an oversaturated market. On the other hand, it's not a bad idea to opt for a product that is already selling well. Go for the same product, but with your own, unique twist.

Laws and Regulations

To ensure that you don’t land up in trouble, it’s super important that you do proper research on regulations regarding how to sell food online from home. To start off with, you’ll need a food handler's permit to sell food from home. Luckily, all you need to do to obtain such a permit is to attend a brief training course.

A good place to start is to check out your state’s cottage food laws, which are regulations that are meant to make it easier for home-based businesses to sell food. Here are some of the general requirements laid out by these regulations across all states:

The laws include several limitations regarding the type of food home-based entrepreneurs are allowed to sell, and also the amount of money they’re allowed to make. Once you exceed the financial limit of your state, your business will be subject to the same laws and regulations as a commercial food business.

Although many states prohibited the selling of homemade food products online in the past, this is changing fast. Currently, 38 states allow cottage-food businesses to sell their food products online. Whether you’re selling online or at the local farmer’s market, note that you should create detailed labels that include relevant information such as the ingredients and allergen warnings.

Apps and Websites

If you’re going to be selling your food products online, you obviously need a strong online presence. Apart from marketing your products on your social media pages, your first step should be to build a website where customers can view and order your products.

Since online shoppers cannot physically taste your goods before buying, you want to lure them with a professional look and feel and attractive images. Although you can hire a professional website builder, building your own website is made easy these days through e-commerce platforms such as Shopify or free website builders such as Castiron.

Another effective way to get your business going is to make use of an online app for selling home-cooked food. An app like Castiron, for instance, helps small-business owners start and grow their online businesses by supplying them with a digital space where they can sell their goods and communicate with customers. Best of all — it's free!

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