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If you've ever thought that you could make some money selling homemade food, you might be right. Cottage food is a growing industry where people like you are creating and selling food from their home, at farmer's markets, county fairs, and other venues.
But there's more to just making a batch of cookies and offering them for sale. Most states have rules on selling food from home which you must follow if you plan on selling food from home.
Although selling home cooked food to the public varies from state to state, there are some rough guidelines when it comes to what types of food you can sell. In most cases, you cannot sell food that requires refrigeration to stay fresh. That means that you cannot sell meats, cheeses, dairy products, poultry products, and any baked goods that require refrigeration. The law is intended to prevent the spread of harmful pathogens that comes from spoiled food.
But that leaves a great deal of food you can sell. In most cases, you can sell baked goods, coffee, tea, spice blends, snacks, granola, chips, and canned foods such as pickles, preserves, and jams.
At this point, you may wonder how to sell homemade food. In the United States and Canada laws are very specific for the cottage food industry. You can only sell your food directly to customers out of your home, at farmer's markets, at special events, nonprofit fairs and functions, and municipal and county fairs. In most cases, you cannot sell via the Internet, although you may have a webpage, You also can't sell to restaurants, stores, or across state lines.
There are exceptions to selling your homemade food online, such as selling it in India and other countries, but if you're planning on selling your food locally, you will have to abide by the state and local laws.
In most cases, cottage food cannot be sold across state lines, which means that you cannot sell your products on Amazon. Selling homemade food on Amazon can be done if you get the appropriate food licenses and have your own separate facility to produce the product.
However, there are other methods how to sell homemade food online that can prove lucrative. In these cases, you need to use a food delivery app that will help you selling prepackaged food online.
How to sell home cooked food online requires that you sign up for a delivery service such as Swiggy, Zomato, UberEats, etc. These services list your products and when someone orders them, a driver picks them up and delivers them for you. The delivery service takes a cut from the profits, and you get paid through them.
Unless you get your restaurant license, you will have to abide by the cottage food laws of your state. If you're in another country, and you're selling baked goods from home in Ontario since 2020, you'll have to become familiar with the cottage food laws of your country and whether your food fits into that category.
If you want to know how to sell homemade food on Swiggy and Zomato, the best thing to do is to download their app and see what home cooked foods are available in your area. If you live in the United States and plan on selling to your neighbors, you must follow the cottage food rules set forth by your state. If you are in India, where both Swiggy and Zomato are exceedingly popular, you'll need to obtain a shop (business) license, a FSSAI license, and a GST number and have them scanned in and available to upload to the apps.
Load the app in your smartphone and scroll to the bottom where it says, "Partner with us." Select that and fill out the forms. Once you submit your forms, you'll need to wait until the company contacts you.
Although technically you can't directly sell your food via the Internet in most states within the United States, you can list your food on these food selling websites that sell your food for delivery via an app. This way, your food never has to cross state lines and violate the law by illegally selling it. Some places to consider selling your cottage food includes:
Amazon.com does not allow you to sell cottage food in the United States and Canada, but you can sell cottage food in India, provided you get an FSSAI license to sell your food. The food needs to be nonperishable, which means snacks, protein bars, tea, spice mixes, canned goods, chocolate, cakes, and even dairy products such as butter, cheese, and ghee. Of course, these have to be properly packaged with appropriate expiration dates. The food must be appropriately packaged for shipping, especially if you ship overseas.
Now that you're thinking about what to sell and where to sell it, it's important to talk about permits, licenses, and regulations. Not every state requires that you must have a special food license to sell homemade food, but many do. It's important that you understand the licensing requirements before you go into business. You should at least get a business license and probably liability insurance, since people can and do get sued over product, even if the product is safe. There are other licenses and permits that are mandatory, depending on the state you live in. Contact your local municipality and find out how to get your food permit application, if it is applicable.
You may be surprised to learn that many states don't require you to have a food server license if you are a cottage food producer. But be forewarned, the definition of a cottage food producer varies by state. The amount you earn will also decide whether you are a cottage food producer or a commercial food producer.
If you live in Texas, you may wonder "do I need a license to sell homemade food in Texas?" You don't need a food license to sell food from home in Texas, if you make less than $50,000 in sales yearly. However, you still need a sales tax license, take a training class in food handling, and get your food handler's card. It is also advisable to get a business license, even if you don't need a license to sell cottage food in your state.
Each state is different. Even if you don't need a permit to sell food from home in Montana, you may still have rules and regulations you have to follow that are different from Texas's regulations.
In several states such as California, New York, and Colorado, you need a license to sell homemade food. For example, California is a state which does require a special license. Like Texas, you must have a sales tax license, you must make less than $50,000 a year, and you must undergo training in food handling to get your food handler's card.
But that is where the similarities end. You must apply for cottage food license in California. The first step is to get a permit from your local environmental health agency. California has different types of cottage food licenses, including direct sales and indirect sales, depending on how you intend to sell your products. You will need your business license as well.
Contact your local health department about selling homemade foods and ask if there are special licenses or permits required. You may also want to contact your county extension services or offices for information. Many times they have helpful handouts that can point you to the information you need.
If you live in Canada, you may be wondering what cottage laws apply to you. There is no overarching license or law in Canada that governs the cottage laws. Instead, each province has its own laws concerning the cottage food industry.
For example, Ontario doesn't have cottage laws per se, however they do allow selling certain homemade foods at farmer's markets with a permit. This permit is issued by the government and only covers the sale of low risk foods that require no refrigeration. Contact your local municipality for the food license in Ontario cost.
You may also need to obtain a business license and VAT license depending on the province you're selling your foods in. To find out how to get license to sell food in the province you live in, be sure to contact your municipality and ask how you can sell home made food at farmer's markets and be sure to ask for a list of allowed foods.
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