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Selling Home Cooked Food to the Public

You may have heard some humble origin stories about starting a home-based food business and selling home-cooked food to the public. Back in the day, Paul Newman began whipping up salad dressing in his kitchen and went on to have a very successful nonprofit business. There are steps and rules to be followed with any type of homemade food sale. 

Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home? One thing to always remember is yes, there will almost always need to be some kind of permit required to legally sell home-cooked goods to the public. Selling food from home requires some prior preparation and regulation. However, when the proper steps are taken, many people have experienced much success selling food from home.

Home-food business owners do not all fall under the same label. The home-food business is an umbrella with many smaller types underneath. There are farmer’s market sellers, street food sellers and home kitchen sellers to name a few. The laws, regulations and permits vary widely depending on the state the individual is in and the type of homemade food being sold. Selling strawberry jam at a farmer’s market in Texas will need different preparation than selling strawberry jam on Amazon.

The types of home-cooked food allowed to be sold vary, but almost all states require the product to be labeled, weighed and specified that it was homemade and not inspected. Most local health departments do not inspect home-cooked food kitchens unless a health complaint is made. This does not mean home chefs and bakers should not be following the same health and cleanliness guidelines as local restaurants and similar establishments. Selling at the farmer’s market is different than trying to sell to a grocery store. Selling to a grocery store requires specific types of kitchen appliances and a more rigorous health and safety inspection.

There are many factors to consider when starting to sell baked goods from home or selling food from home. When the research is done properly beforehand and the permits necessary (if there are any needed) are received, many homemade chefs go on to have successful, thriving businesses.

Apps for Selling Home-Cooked Food

Is the digital world more your speed when it comes to selling food from home? Are you looking for an app for selling home-cooked food? You’re in luck because there are several apps that can effectively help you sell food from home.

Castiron

Castiron is the ecommerce platform for selling home-cooked food to the public. Castiron is an ecommerce platform built for food artisans and all makers who are passionate about food. We help you organize and optimize all of the pieces you need to start or grow your independent food business with tools for ordering, customer management, inventory, and more. We've helped juicers, canners, picklers, kombucha makers, bakers, and many other artisans launch their online stores.

Homemade 

Dubbed the “Etsy of selling food,” Homemade is designed to make selling homemade food less complicated. This sell-food-from-home app is allowing people to sell food from home without the traditional license. How? The app makes any purchase “donation-based” to bypass the food permit laws most states require. The application process to be accepted by Homemade is more than thorough and only the best make it through. A potential seller has to provide their food experience, any certifications and social media presence. The co-founders of Homemade visit the would-be home kitchens and taste everything before an applicant is accepted onto the app. 

Yummit

Yummit was a homemade food selling platform. They helped you find customers allowed you to set your own schedule and prices. They took a 20% cut of your profits, and anyone selling on the app needed to comply with all local food business laws. The app showed the customer what was being made fresh locally in real time. The community was rating- and feedback-heavy, so reviews were very important to the livelihood of a profile on Yummit. Yummit does not appear to be operating any more.

Savorly

The mission of Savorly is to bring back home-cooked meals into people’s everyday life. So many people nowadays are eating out at restaurants or heating up microwavable meals on a daily basis. Savorly wants to change that by providing an app for selling home-cooked food. Savorly is really big on promoting generational recipes and providing a way for amateur cooks to realize their potential and reach their dreams. An order for a home-cooked meal is placed with a local chef. The meal is made fresh upon order, after which it is either picked up or delivered to the consumer. To sell on Savorly, a chef has to receive a health and safety permit much like that of a restaurant. This can dissuade would-be chefs, because the process is so in-depth.

Permit To Sell Food From Home

Now that we’ve shared the basics of the rules on selling food from home, you may be asking yourself, “Do I need a license to sell homemade food?” The answer is yes, you will -- without a doubt -- need some kind of food license or permit to sell food from home. There are heavy laws and regulations in place to maintain public health and safety. Selling California rolls out of your garage would most likely not fly with most, if not all, state laws. There are different rules on how to get a permit to sell food from home or how to get a permit to sell food on the street, depending on the state you’re in. Don’t be discouraged, for more cottage licenses are being issued now than ever before.

Cottage License

What’s a cottage license you might ask? Many states let people sell food and condiments like jam outside of a licensed kitchen, as long as the products do not need to be refrigerated. Typically, a cottage license only applies to sales at farmer’s markets or other small-scale environments. The highlight here is that permits and regulations vary from state to state.

California

Do I need a license to sell homemade food in California? Yes, you need to get a permit to sell food from home in California. Some of the foods you can sell under a California license are dry baking mixes, candy, dried fruit, popcorn and roasted coffee. For a complete list, see this web page. In California, a Class A permit allows you to only sell directly at farmer’s markets, festivals and from home -- places where individuals buy your products directly from you. A Class B permit lets you sell indirectly through vendors and restaurants. It’s important to read up on each type of permit, because there are certain requirements to receive either.

Florida

What about if you live in Florida, do you need a permit to sell food from home in Florida? No.

As long as you’re selling food out of your own home, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services does not require you to receive a permit before selling. Double-check with your city regulations, because those may be different from the state regulations, and each city rule could be unique. 

Texas

Should you plan to get a license to sell food in texas? No, but you need to register your home kitchen to sell canned jams, fruit pies, cereal and a number of other approved home foods. The state by law is not allowed to interfere with your cottage food, unless there is a formal complaint made against your business. Though you do not need a permit to sell food from home, Texas mandates that you do need to pass a food safety course and acquire a food handler’s card. 

Selling Homemade Food Online

We have talked about selling food from the home, the farmer’s market and even apps. But what about selling homemade food online? Selling homemade food on Amazon, Zomato or Swiggy like any homemade food business has its own regulations and requirements. 

Amazon

Unsurprisingly, Amazon has some rather specific seller requirements one needs to reach to be allowed to sell homemade snacks or homemade food on their platform. Sellers need to hit these particular performance goals:

  • Order defect rate: < 1%
  • Pre-fulfillment cancel rate: < 2.5%
  • Late shipment rate: < 4%

Sellers on Amazon have to provide the proper government licensing from the agency relevant to their situation and products being sold. Anyone selling homemade goods on Amazon also needs to obey any federal and state law jurisdiction they fall under. Want to know more specifics on how to sell home-cooked food online on Amazon? Here is a more detailed list of their requirements. 

Zomato and Swiggy

For those looking to sell outside the United States, both Zomato and Swiggy are online food delivery applications. Customers can order food from nearby restaurants, but they also have the option of ordering local homemade food. Homemade food sellers on Zomato and Swiggy first have to register for a company before selling home-cooked food and homemade snacks online. Zomato and Swiggy are both based in India, and there are specific food licenses needed to establish a homemade food business. Zomato operates in India, the United States and also around the world. The founders of Zomato believe in connecting people with different flavors and tastes from around the world. Zomato is unique in that you cannot apply directly to them, you need to either be picked or know someone who is already selling on Zomato.

Additional Resources

Food Ideas to Sell Online | Labels For Homemade Products | Making Food at Home to Sell | Sell Food From Home App | Sell Homemade Food Online | Selling Baked Goods From Home in Texas | Selling Cookies From Home | Selling Cottage Food Online | Selling Food From Home | Selling Food From Home Illinois | Selling Food From Your Home | Selling Home Cooked Food to the Public | Selling Homemade Food | Selling Ice Cream From Home | Selling Pies From Home | Where to Sell Homemade Food


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