The Food Products

The Food Products

Three Important Keys on How to Start a Home Vegetarian Food Business in Your Home

Posted on September 6, 2018 in Uncategorized

Many have turned to the vegetarian lifestyle for the health and environmental benefits. The availability of vendors for this product is rather slim. Maybe you are interested in prospering in this niche market. This article will cover three important keys on how to start a home vegetarian food business in your home. You have to remember first that this is a business. You must run it like a business to stay afloat.

1) Create a plan. It has been said many times that businesses fail due to poor planning and nearly 80% of food businesses fail in the first 3 years. The wrong idea, mismanagement, or not enough financing can be tracked back to poor planning. Think about what you are going to sell, how you will distribute the product, how you will store the goods, and how much the cost will be prior to starting the business. Most food businesses work on a 20% profit margin; after the overhead and food cost. Can your plan become profitable in the first three years?

2) Be sure to get the proper licenses, etc. The US Small Business Administration could be a great source of information. The local chamber of commerce can give you all the necessary business information for your area. You will want to meeting with your local health department for a list of requirements pertaining to the food industry in your county. Business licenses, taxes, payroll, and general book keeping processes should all be in place before you open the doors.

3) A lot of people start a cooking business because they love to cook or their friends are always commenting on how good they cook. That is a great reason to be a cook, but can be a disaster if they have little or no business talents. There is much more to this type of business that cooking. Owners will need to wear many different hats to make this profitable. Another solution may be to surround yourself with others who have the talents that you are lacking. Be sure to factor in the cost of this talent as you begin the planning process.

These are a few tips on how to start a home vegetarian food business in your home. One more aspect is marketing. You will need a way to let your customers know you are in business. There are a lot of resources out there to help you with that as well.

Catering Van for Your Mobile Food Business

Posted on August 21, 2018 in Uncategorized

If you’re planning on starting a food business but don’t have enough capital to put-up a diner or a restaurant, you may want to consider starting your food business through a mobile catering van.

There are a lot of mobile food businesses these days and they cater to a wide range of customers. From offering burgers, hotdogs and deli sandwiches to numerous beverages; these mobile food businesses thrive when exposed to the right market.

This being said, starting this type of business requires careful study in order to get it off the ground towards the right direction. If you are passionate about food and people, you’ve got two very important factors already under your belt.

START YOUR FOOD BUSINESS ON THE RIGHT TRACK

One of the first things you need to consider when starting this kind of business is the product that you would like to offer. Since a catering van, although well-equipped with cooking paraphernalia, still has its limitations, hence; food or beverage that is easy to prepare should be considered.

If you are jumping on the bandwagon and would want to sell burgers and other fast food items; consider your selling point. Do you have a special ingredient or recipe that would make your burgers or sandwiches more appealing to your prospective customers?

Perhaps you can offer your items at lower prices but still of superior quality. Thinking of a come-on to attract customers and keep them coming back for more is essential to stabilize your business and also to allow you to expand in the future.

Who is your target market and where do you plan to park your mobile business? Mobile of course means that you can transfer from one place to the next without trouble, but staying in one particular area at a time could increase your clientele before moving on to the next.

Costing and budgeting come next. This includes expenses for your ingredients and packaging, gasoline and other expenditures. You should also include here the amount you shelled-out for your catering van.

If getting a brand new van is not possible at this time, there are a lot of second-hand vans that you can purchase and you may find some great deals on the internet.

BUYING YOUR VAN

As mentioned, there are a lot of used vans for catering that you can find on the internet. These are full-equipped with essential cooking utilities such as oven, microwave oven, a sink, stovetop and even a small refrigerator.

You may also add other cooking equipment if there are other things you deem essential for your cooking. The prices may vary but you can get a pretty good deal on these and the prices are usually still negotiable, depending on the owner of the van.

You can arrange with the owner for an ocular inspection and even a test drive so you can see the exact condition of the van and decide on whether or not it is what you actually need.

Most used vans are specifically equipped for certain food products such as a burger van or a sandwich van; and even a beverage van; so you may also check these factors out when looking for your mobile food van.

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Finding the Right Kitchen Space for Your Specialty Food Business

Posted on August 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

While regulations vary by state, most states have traditionally not allowed you to manufacture food products in your home kitchen if you intend to sell them. In the past year or two, however, several states have enacted “Cottage Food” laws, whereby start up food producers CAN prepare certain foods in their homes without the usual licensing. Each state has its own guidelines regarding what kind of foods are allowed or prohibited, what the labeling requirements are, where these food products can be sold and more. These laws also cap gross sales, so once your sales go above that amount, you become subject to all the usual regulations.

Your best bet is to do an online search on “cottage food laws” for more information about the specific rules and laws in your particular state.

Some states with or without cottage food laws may still require your home kitchen meet commercial grade kitchen standards and pass a health department inspection. No one wants to find dog hair in their food! (In fact, every cottage food state prohibits pets from being in the home.) And even if you are allowed to use a home kitchen, you might still choose to find a commercial kitchen because it’s just more efficient. Once I moved to a kitchen that had the full size commercial ovens, planetary mixer and tons of counter space, there was no going back! It was so much easier and quicker to produce in that environment.

Ideas

So where do you look for commercial kitchen space? You have a lot of options. When you’re looking, keep an open mind and be willing to be creative. There’s really no reason for you to invest in creating your own commercial kitchen space at the start up phase (costs can easily reach $50,000 in no time!) unless you know for sure you have significant production contracts in hand that will justify the large capital outlay necessary.

One choice is to rent space in a kitchen that is already licensed for commercial preparation. Many food entrepreneurs have started out using space in a restaurant, working there during the hours the restaurant is closed. Check out restaurants that are open only for breakfast and lunch; maybe you can use their space in the evenings. Talk to area caterers about using their kitchens too. Depending on what kind of catering they do, they may have the equipment you need. Many caterers aren’t very busy in their kitchens early in the week, so you could be in there on a Monday or Tuesday.

Some areas of the country have incubator kitchens for early-stage food businesses. These facilities offer shared rental opportunities and are fully equipped and licensed. Sometimes these facilities are connected to a university. In other cases, this type of kitchen may cater to a specific type of food business, vegetarian or baking or canning only, for example. One place to look for these types of kitchens is www.CulinaryIncubator.com. If you’re making jam, beans, salsa or the like, you could find a local cannery or canning facility. This page has a list of canning kitchens: http://pickyourown.org/canneries.htm that may be a good start for you.

Co-op kitchens are commercial kitchens that are set up for a variety of food producers and allow you to rent time and space in their facility. One example of such a facility is the Production Kitchen in West Palm Beach. Look online for this kind of arrangement in your area.

Do you have a Moose, Elk, Knights of Columbus or Shriners lodge in your town? Believe it not, this was the place I used in the very beginning of my business’ life. I knew some of the Shriners from the Chamber of Commerce and they were happy to help me get started. They charged a minimal hourly rate and I used their kitchen on Mondays. The men who were members kind of adopted me as their own “cookie lady” and loved coming through the kitchen to see what was going on when I was working there.

When it was time to move on, I ended up in a local church kitchen. Religious houses, like churches or synagogues, are great options because they aren’t usually in use during the week. And you might be surprised at how well-appointed these facilities are. I was! Not having had reason to be in one for years, I was thrilled to find three full-size commercial gas ovens, full-size baking pans, five or six cooling racks, a 35-gallon Hobart mixer, measuring spoons and cups, and an incredible amount of counter and refrigeration at my disposal. Like I mentioned earlier, there was no turning back to something smaller after that.

As a note, you don’t necessarily have to be a member of the congregation to use their kitchen.

Keep in mind that regardless of where you decide to produce your food product, even though that facility will (presumably) have proper licensing and insurance, you will still need some of your own licensing (at the least a city and/or county business license) and liability insurance.

Payment

Some facilities, like the co-op kitchens, will have set prices for their use. Others, like the restaurants and churches, may not have ever participated in such an arrangement before, so you’ll have some flexibility in working with them to establish something that works for both of you. Make sure you know what kind of budget you have to spend on this. The very first place I used, before the Shriners, I negotiated an amount that turned out to be way too high (I wasn’t selling nearly enough product to cover my rent there), and I had very limited access to it. Fortunately I didn’t have a long-term agreement and I was able to get away after just a few months and move to the Shriners’ facility with much more favorable terms. When I started working at the church kitchen, payment was made as donations to the church because non-profit organizations cannot legally rent out kitchen space for a for-profit businesses.

Persistence

As with anything worth having or finding, you may encounter several rejections or dead ends as you search for the perfect place to produce your food product. I can’t recall exactly how many facilities I called. I left messages that weren’t returned and started hopeful conversations with countless people who never followed through. Be prepared for this journey and know that the right situation IS out there for you. Keep on searching and calling and you will meet with success!

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