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Scroll for more than a few minutes on Instagram or TikTok and you’re bound to come across a video or photo of a beautifully arranged board of meats, cheeses, crackers, and fruit. These show-stopping arrangements, ranging from a single-serve snack to a grazing board that takes up an entire table, almost look too good to eat.
If you’ve found yourself craving a creative outlet — maybe one that also fills your belly — a charcuterie business could be the perfect place to make money while pursuing your passion. Keep reading to learn more about building your own charcuterie board business.
Before we get started, let’s cover some frequently asked questions.
In many states, a business license is required for any business making and selling food. Cottage food businesses typically do not require licenses, but charcuterie board businesses often do not fall under cottage food law regulation.
In general, cottage food laws, which regulate home-based food businesses in the U.S., do not permit the sale of meat. Five states have legalized the sale of home cooked meals that contain meat: California, Utah, Wyoming, Iowa, and Vermont. Only certain counties in California allow for these home-based kitchens, or Micro Enterprise Home Kitchen Operations (MEHKOs), to operate.
Generally, you should assume that you cannot sell foods that require refrigeration from home. Most states do not permit cottage food businesses to sell perishable foods.
The rules for starting a food business will vary by location, but generally follow these guidelines will set you up for success:
So you’ve decided to start a charcuterie board business. Congratulations! You’re embarking on a rewarding entrepreneurial journey. You’ll learn a lot, and hopefully make a lot of money, too!
One of the first steps in starting any food business is taking care of the “business side of business.”
To operate legally, you need to be aware of the requirements that your state, county, or city have for businesses — especially food businesses. Sure, you can Google “do I need a food license to sell charcuterie boards in Texas,” “how to start a charcuterie business in Florida,” or the like, but it’s often easiest to just give your local health department a call. While there’s no specific charcuterie business license, you may be required to have a food handlers permit or another type of credential to sell. You may need to acquire a sales tax license, a health inspection, a commercial kitchen, or any number of other certifications. It’s best to look up your specific location’s requirements to be sure.
You’ll need to think about your business goals as you work on starting a charcuterie business from home. What do you hope to accomplish with your business? Do you want to make a boatload of money? Do you want to provide your community with a high-quality product? Do you hope to test out an idea to see if it has the potential to become a brick and mortar business? All of these questions can help you determine what path to take with regards to pricing, packaging, planning, and even hiring.
To build a sustainable business, you need to make sure you’re covering your costs of goods AND paying yourself a livable wage. Charcuterie board business pricing is more of an art than a science, and you’ll probably have to test a few iterations of pricing and products before you nail it (here's a great resource for pricing for your charcuterie business). It’s so important to understand the base costs of creating your products so you can make sure you’re actually building a profitable business. As your skills improve and demand grows, you’ll need to reevaluate your pricing and increase it as necessary. It’s recommended that you increase your prices every six to twelve months.
To price your products, you may want to set an ideal “cost per person” to help you set your prices. For instance, if you want to earn $10 per person and know that that is enough money to cover your costs and make a profit, work backwards to figure out what kinds of products to offer and how many you’ll need to sell. This will help you determine your marketing strategy later on.
As you navigate how to start a charcuterie business from home, don’t be afraid to look to other charcuterie board business owners for inspiration. Business owners are typically willing to share advice and tips that they’ve learned as they’ve grown their business, so don’t be afraid to reach out to local or national businesses with questions. A year from now, you might be advising other entrepreneurs on how to start a grazing board business!
One of the most fun, creative parts of creating a business is naming. It can be easy to get caught up in naming, but it’s important to have fun and show personality in your business name. One day you might be the next Charm City Cupcakes or Stacy’s Pita Chips, so inject personality and fun into your business name.
The best charcuterie business names tell your customers a little bit about you, but make it clear what you sell. That might mean using words that incorporate ideas of meats and cheeses, grazing or charcuterie boards, sharing and snacking, or something similar. You might include your city, your name, or something distinctively “you” in your grazing board business names. A business name generator can be helpful to get the ball rolling, but avoid using anything too generic that will make it difficult for customers to find your business.
Try using humor in your business name. Who doesn’t want to buy from a charcuterie board business called Who Cut the Cheese? These charcuterie board funny names can catch potential customers’ attention and build brand affinity before they even try your product.
As you brainstorm names for your charcuterie business from home, do some quick searches to see if those names are already in use. You don’t want to compete with similarly-named businesses on Google, Instagram, Facebook, or anywhere else on the internet.
Consider using other names for charcuterie board, like grazing board or snack board, in your name. People will understand what you’re selling, and it may help you stand out from the crowd. Look at other cheese board business names, grazing board business names, and even food business names as a whole for inspiration. Find inspiration from the charcuterie businesses in our Top 40 Food Entrepreneurs of 2022.
One thing that can make or break a business is the cost of supplies. If you’re spending too much on supplies — especially the things that don’t add a ton of value to your product, at least in your customers’ eyes — it can be devastating for your business. It’s crucial to understand what’s important to your charcuterie business.
That might mean fancy plates with a return program so that they can be reused, or it might mean using lower-cost disposable charcuterie boards in bulk. That might mean using wholesale charcuterie boxes with a sticker and a bow on top instead of a boring plastic container. Ultimately, your packaging and supplies will reflect on your brand, so make them look great without spending more than you can afford to. There are plenty of ways to DIY this!
Look for companies that can sell you charcuterie business supplies in bulk in order to save money. Businesses like BRP Box Shop, Uline, and Amazon all sell large quantities of packaging, which can mean a better deal for you. Look for sales and deals on things like ribbon, box dividers and liners, serving utensils, and cups. You can save a lot of money if you know where to look!
Make sure to include all of your charcuterie business supplies in your charcuterie business plan, and don’t forget to calculate your supplies into your pricing. Find reputable suppliers, ideally in bulk from a store like Costco or Sam’s Club, for your ingredients. You’ll need to decide if you want to offer a wide range of cheeses, meats, fruits, and other items in your boxes, or if you want to keep your selections small. Smaller varieties may help you reduce waste.
Remember: when customers are buying a charcuterie board from you, they’re expecting an experience. Anyone can create a platter with meats and cheeses, but not everyone can (or has the desire to) create a work of art out of charcuterie. One way to build a successful charcuterie business from home is by stunning your customers with beautiful designs that are truly unique. You may need extra supplies, like cookie cutters, specialty boards, or specialty food products, to make this a reality.
Pricing for any business can be tricky. Your startup costs are at the core of your pricing — if you don’t cover them, you won’t have any hope in making money with your grazing board business. These costs may include any licenses, rental fees (like for a commercial kitchen), your ingredient costs, packaging supplies, and of course, your time. The amount you charge for your time, and any markup, will determine your charcuterie profit margin.
When it comes to setting prices for your products, think about how your customers will order. Are they asking for a charcuterie board for 25 guests? If so, price your charcuterie boards by the person. If they’re requesting charcuterie boards for events, asking about the cost of charcuterie for a wedding, or inquiring about catering, think about ways you can use that to your advantage when pricing.
Remember: you’re the expert here. There’s no charcuterie board calculator or robot charcuterie board maker that can do what your customers want you to do. Use your costs, your time, and your profit needs to determine how much you need to charge for your charcuterie boards. The amount that a large charcuterie board costs will depend on your ingredients, your location, the time it takes, any delivery fees, and a number of other factors that you’ll have to consider.
At the end of the day, your charcuterie board pricing should include these basic factors:
Now it’s time to start working on your marketing, and time to draw in your first customers! We’re so excited that you’re ready to launch your charcuterie business. Best of luck on your entrepreneurial journey!
If you need additional resources, check these out:
My business would not be the same without my Castiron website! It is an easy setup with lots of customization and tons of support! I am so glad I set up my shop last year before the holidays — it really helped increase my sales!
The Whimsical Cookie
Castiron provides me a professional site to my customers increasing my credibility and value while giving me the tools to effectively market and manage my business in an easy, user-friendly manner.
Wesley's Treats Hallie's Sweets
Castiron has made my cottage bakery shine, and my business easy to manage. As a platform they care about my business as much as I do.
Before Castiron, I was taking orders really manually, through emails or texts or Facebook. Now I can send customers straight to my website, and I don’t have to worry about missing any details.
I couldn't run my business without the Castiron platform. It made it so easy to get my shop up and running — it truly removed a massive barrier to me getting started!
I realized that the barrier of having to DM or text me to order was holding a lot of potential customers back.
Now that I have a professional website and a simple ecommerce checkout, I'm seeing a huge increase in new customers and they appreciate how easy Castiron makes ordering.
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