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The cottage food program is a series of laws in each state that regulate cottage food operations. This includes controlling and monitoring what people are legally allowed to prepare, bake, or cook in their home kitchens. These laws also cover cottage food shipping, cottage bakery license, and how you sell your food to customers.
There are 42 states that allow you to sell cottage foods online within the state. In addition, there are 35 states that allow cottage foods to be shipped. Today, it is critical for businesses to be able to ship their products. It helps them meet customers' expectations and obtain more sales.
When shipping cottage foods, there are some special rules that apply. The first is to ensure that shipping cottage food is allowable in your state. The states that allow shipping are:
Note that not all states permit shipping out of state.
Regardless if you are shipping within your own state or across state lines, there are some things of which you should be aware. First, the packaging for your food is critical when you ship it. You want to ensure the packaging will remain secure and protect the food you are shipping. Second, you should have a good idea about shipping costs, so you are charging your customers appropriately. Third, you want to provide transparency to your customers about shipping. Finally, you want to get items to them as quickly as possible, but also be realistic about the delivery.
Before you begin starting your cottage food business, you should understand the rules for your state, including the rules around cottage food registration for your business. Each state has slightly different rules, and it is important to understand them, so you are in full compliance.
Many states require you to have a cottage food permit or some type of registration requirement. It is not unusual to find different rules in each state. For example, for a cottage food permit Idaho, you must file a written cottage food license application for a food establishment license with your local health district. There are seven in Idaho which makes it important to send it to the proper county. The license must be renewed every year or if you add food or move your kitchen.
Cottage food permit California is basically the same across the entire state, even if you are looking for a Kern County cottage food permit or a cottage food permit Riverside County. If you want a cottage food permit Los Angeles or a cottage food permit (San Diego), you must first decide what cottage food you want to sell and how you plan to sell it. The permit you need depends on your cottage food operation class, A or B. After that, you must be qualified to be a cottage food operator by your local Health Department. A cottage food permit Washington requires you to have a cottage food operators permit issued to you by the Washington State Agricultural Department.
While generally, cottage food law governs the ability to produce food in your home and sell it for a profit, there are some variations among the states. Florida cottage food law 2022 is the same as it was in 2021. Cottage food laws Florida changed in 2021 to allow internet sales, sales by mail, and in-person delivery. Michigan cottage food law 2022 has not changed much. Selling via the internet or mail-order is prohibited by MI cottage food law.
MN cottage food law states that while you can personally deliver your cottage food, you cannot ship it, deliver it through the mail, or have a third party deliver it for you. While some rules for a cottage food license may seem stricter than others, it is not advisable that you try to figure out how to get around cottage food laws.
As mentioned above, when you are planning to ship baked goods or other cottage foods through the mail, one of the most important considerations you should make is packaging. You want to guarantee that your customers are receiving fresh baked goods that are safe-to-consume, and in one piece. The item you are shipping dictates the best packaging. You always want to ensure your items are secure. You do not want your customers to receive crumbles.
For general shipping tips for baked goods, consider these:
It would be best if you always let your baked goods cool before you package them. Each item should be individually secured. You can use food liners, parchment paper, or food grade bags to keep them in place. This also ensures that any of your sticky treats do not stick together. If there is extra space in your box, you want to fill it. Using foam or packaging bubbles helps keep your treats in one place. Once you have your items packaged, shake the box to listen for rattling or any moving around. If you hear it, add some cushioning.
The perfect time to ship is the beginning of the week. This ensures your treats get to where they are going and do not get stuck in a facility over the weekend. If you ship on a Friday, most likely, your package is going to sit over the weekend. This increases the likelihood that your items arrive stale or inedible.
Cookies are one of the easiest baked items to ship. However, you will find that some cookies are easier to transport than others. For example, cookies with eggs are sturdier and therefore easy to ship. Additionally, drop cookies will be easier to ship than custom decorated sugar cookies with fragile icing. If you are shipping one type of cookie, you can place them back to back and loosely wrap them in plastic. When shipping more than one kind of cookie, you want to wrap each one individually in a sealed bag. This prevents the flavor of one change the taste of another and helps keep cookies fresh. You may even individually bubble wrap each cookie for extra cushioning.
You want to ensure there are no gaps or spaces in your packaging container. Do not forget to give it a shake test to ensure nothing moves around. You want to use a container that is shallow and flat. Do not stack your cookies more than two layers high. If you know you are going to ship cookies, you might even consider making them smaller, as this makes them easier to ship and reduces the chance of broken cookies. If your customers are used to larger sized cookies, you should consider offering more smaller cookies for the same price as a large one.
You could also consider freezing your cookies before shipping. They remain solid this way and are less likely to break. Since cookies can freeze and defrost without impacting their taste, this is a great option.
The best bread to ship is any kind that has been leavened with baking soda or powder. This includes banana, pumpkin, or zucchini. These quick loaves of bread do not have yeast and tend to last longer than dough that was risen with yeast. Another good option is bread that is leavened with sourdough.
If you are shipping bread, you want to bake it and ship it all on the same day. The bread loaf must cool before you package it. The postal service offers different methods for wrapping bread based on the type of bread it is.
For example, soft bread should be double wrapped in plastic and then wrapped in foil or a plastic bag. When shipping yeast-leavened, stiff bread, wrap it in foil and then wrap it in plastic or in a bread bag. If you have crusty bread, you should wrap it in plastic wrap. You can also put it in a plastic bag to maintain its moisture.
You want to pack your bread in a box that is sturdy. You want something that will not smash during delivery. You want to make sure you fill in all the spaces. Then seal the box with packaging tape to ensure there are no air holes.
You could also partially bake the bread to about 80%, freeze it, and then ship it. The customer will have to finishing baking the bread for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Macarons are delicate, so you must package them carefully. It would help if you used a macaron container. These cookies are fragile, and you want to have sturdy packaging. They can also have a strong flavor, so you want airtight packaging while keeping flavors separate.
It would be best if you had a box that will hold the container, so it is snug. This prevents there from being extra room and the container from being jostled. You should place icepacks around the container to help keep the cookies fresh and safe — but make sure that they won't leak. If there is any extra room or space after this, you want to add foam or packaging bubbles. You should use a carrier you trust and offer next-day delivery.
Shipping food isn't cheap, but to provide your customers with the best shipped products, you need to invest in quality shipping materials and quick shipping speeds. Best of luck in your shipping journey!
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