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Online Food Business

During the first wave of COVID back in 2020, starting an online food business became the new normal due to lockdown and quarantine demands. With many establishment shutdowns resulting in layoffs and financial obstacles, some individuals have taken advantage of the digital industry by directly marketing homemade and commercial goods from their pantries. They also contribute to the surge of internet and app-based foodservice platforms.

Although not all traditional businesses were affected by the virus, unemployed workers have since settled into their entrepreneurial roles and continue to thrive on their own terms. On the other hand, opening a business from home can take time and patience. A scalable business is more efficient, profitable, and valuable. If you decide to sell your company, the systems and investments you make on the front end could dramatically increase your value. Furthermore, if you want to eliminate unnecessary constrictions in your business, you should look for opportunities that allow you to do so. Whether you’re new to the industry or have years of experience, you can benefit from viable information to keep your business running.

Thriving businesses find ways to efficiently upsell and cross-sell their clients as a way of maximizing revenue and saving time. Understanding how to make money selling food from home using specific practices can help you scale up your business successfully. There are also numerous methods to consider when relying on multiple platforms, whether via social media, marketplaces, or forums. Aside from promotion, marketing also matters.

Since running an online food business during the pandemic involves numerous safety protocols, contact-free delivery is crucial to ensure you follow particular guidelines. According to the FDA, a private residence must meet customary expectations. Such a policy includes the same proper manufacturing, packaging, and handling rules for traditional food industry facilities. Not only do the precautions apply to physical health, but they also prevent food-borne illnesses and the transfer of bacterial germs.

Small Food Business Ideas

Brainstorming ideas can be stressful and complicated, especially if you’re a new seller. Additionally, the food industry has become saturated due to some entrepreneurs recycling the same concepts. You can use several creative online food business examples as inspiration when starting your company venture. Also, you can incorporate one or multiple tips at a time to stand out, grow your customer base, increase your revenue and gain more food business opportunities.

Open an E-Commerce Grocery Store

Operating a grocery store from a home is tricky, and you can find yourself facing a business closure if you aren’t careful. The process usually involves acquiring suppliers, enduring legalities, investing in digital advertising, which is challenging to accomplish if you’re planning alone.

Knowing your target audience is essential when choosing unique food products to sell. Selling non-perishable items such as jam and popcorn can attract customers in droves. While you have to be cautious about preserving edible goods, there are effective techniques to maintain their shelf life. Therefore, you should research extensively to find the best food products to sell online.

Start a Cooking Vlog

Aside from hardcopy cookbooks and e-recipes, vlogging has also become widely used for culinary purposes. Some individuals prefer visual instructions when learning how to start a small food business from home. An iPhone or a small video camera is all you need to start. However, you have the option to hide your face while demonstrating delicious recipes combined with detailed commentary.

A social media platform is vital to upload and share your content with an audience. Generally, this method can result in broad exposure and incredible opportunities to drive more attention to your business. You never know how far your videos can reach, and you could even connect with notable professionals in the industry.

Operate a Pastry Shop

A pastry shop is also one of the more innovative ideas for food business ventures to gain loyal customers who love to satisfy their sweet tooth. Whether you specialize in making fresh cookies or brownies from scratch, or you want to sell prepackaged items, pastries are in demand all year round, especially during occasional festivities. You don't even need a storefront to get started — just an online store!

Start a Catering Service

If you’re an exceptional party planner and possess management skills, you can offer catering services on a small or large scale. Such qualities allow you to cater to individuals who plan parties or banquets frequently. In addition, food delivery is quick, and money collection occurs immediately, making this technique one of the popular food business ideas with small capital.

How to Start a Small Food Business at Home

Cottage food laws prohibit entrepreneurs from selling specific short shelf-life foods. Not only do they eliminate red tape, but they also incorporate rules on selling food from home. The details are usually clear and concise while easy to understand and use for future reference. For example, individuals who manufacture homemade food can only sell dry foods such as granola, chips, and baked goods such as bread and cookies. On the other hand, some home-based business owners cannot produce meats, dairy products, fish, and poultry in specific regions.

The laws also limit how much revenue owners can earn within a particular period. Some states require that business owners have a valid permit after hours of training, including a one-time fee, especially when learning how to start a takeaway business from home. Since each state incorporates different rules regarding cottage food regulations, it would be best to know what items to avoid.

Home-food business owners also must label their products. The labeling requirements are simplified and usually include a disclaimer stating the lack of food inspection. Also, in most cases, the local health department only reviews a manufacturer’s kitchen if a consumer files a complaint. However, their business could still be subject to an evaluation to ensure they acknowledge

Some regions also require that entrepreneurs check their kitchens if they’re planning to provide food to third parties, such as grocery stores. You should take crucial steps when learning how to sell homemade food through a legal cottage food business:

Step 1: Consider Legal and Licensing Aspects

The regulations for selling fresh and non-perishable goods are complex, depending on your kitchen. For example, any individuals in the United States who plan to sell food from their home base should follow each regulation carefully. Aside from learning how to sell food from home, research any valid limitations regarding what you can and cannot do by completing a Google search for your state's laws.

Step 2: Assess the Space in Your Home

If you plan to manufacture food in your home, your work area must be separate from other living areas. Observing the space can help you determine product placement. If you’re unsure about area dimensions, take measurements for accuracy. In addition, research to find out restrictions regarding how much space you’re entitled to use and any boundaries.

Step 3: Obtain the Proper Documentation

Whether your state permits domestic food production or requires you to rent a kitchen, you will certainly need to secure manufacturing privileges. Three examples are a food manager certificate, food handler permission, and an enterprise license. They are usually the most expensive licenses to obtain before selling food on the internet. If you operate without the proper credentials, you risk receiving fines and having your company shut down.

Selling Homemade Food Online

In many cases, entrepreneurs need a license to sell food online legally, according to the state in which they reside. Your kitchen must pass a health and safety inspection and be certified before use. Cooking meals in an uncertified kitchen may result in fines from the state or county. If you fail the review and still wish to run your business from home, consider preparing your meals in a licensed kitchen during off-hours.

There are website platforms with resourceful information about the documentation you need to acquire before beginning business operations. For example, Castiron emphasizes the measures entrepreneurs should take to build an online food business from home. The process may appear easy, but it could be unpredictable and stressful to handle. Meanwhile, there are various ways you can establish your company, whether you want to find the best app to sell food or if you’re simply curious.

Find a Reputable Supplier

Since not all companies in the food industry are trustworthy, it's essential to track a supply chain before committing to a supplier. Legitimate suppliers have a listing in reputable directories, publicly accessible on the internet. After locating a few suitable suppliers, begin researching their background, certifications, and supply chain.

While connections are significant, it would be wise to ask for verifiable references and research to confirm legitimate credentials. Also, having a business plan for online food business can help you implement organization instead of unknowingly getting into a risky situation.

Consider Packaging and Labeling

According to US law, every food product should have stickers and complete disclosure of the ingredients, especially for selling baked goods online. You should also have the net quantity, the weight of all components, the name, and the producer's location. Labels are necessary to include in your packaging and online product descriptions. They also alert customers of active ingredients and other components in certain foods.

When creating your ingredient lists, start with the essential items. Also, highlight food allergens, such as nuts or beans. However, if your food requires refrigeration or undergoes alterations due to temperature changes, you must find a shipper that offers climate-controlled shipping.

Set Up an Online Store

An online store is one of the simplest methods of selling homemade food online. While you don't have to be a computer genius or coder to set up a business page, you need to know eCommerce fundamentals. Marketplace platforms have various tools available to launch a website, including a business domain and a professional email address. Not only do you choose your pricing, but you also have complete control over your inventory, and your sales information remains confidential.

Use a Takeout or Delivery App

Some home-based businesses utilize third-party apps to sell to-go cuisine orders. If you research thoroughly, you should find a suitable app for selling home cooked food quickly. All you have to do is signup, fill out your company profile, and display your products or meals. However, you may have to be open to working with an established partner to run your business and share the profits — they usually take 30% of the purchase price or more.

All you need to know about cottage food laws, starting a legal online food business, the types of food you can sell, packaging and shipping tips, and more.

Heather Brookshire

The Cake Whisperer


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!

Amanda McMonigle

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.

Kim Sims

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.

Katie Maschoff

Mill City Cooking Company


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.

Daniella Smith

Oso Good Clean Eats


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!

Ali Serpe

Kultured Kombucha


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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The Best Fit for Your Food Business

Food entrepreneurs, this is your moment. Your community is more and more conscious about what they buy and where it is from. They want food made with love. With ingredients they can pronounce. And they want to support their community while doing it.

Castiron is the best fit for your food business because we're not a one-size-fits-all tool. Selling local food is different from pre-packaged warehouse products. Whether you sell cooking classes, need local pick up, utilize pre-sales to plan inventory, or need a fully custom order form — we got you.

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