If you regularly whip up large batches of goodies in your home kitchen to distribute among your family and friends, commercial distribution may seem like the logical next step. However, food distribution is a tricky prospect that is very different from the making and selling of other crafts and products. In order to legally sell your own food products, there are several very important steps that you must take.
Select a location for making your food products. You cannot whip up you famous creations in your home kitchen anymore. You will need to establish a commercial kitchen facility that will pass the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) inspection.
Determine the various types of food products that you will be selling and what their packaging requirements are. Do you need jars, boxes or bags? Do the products need to be refrigerated or frozen immediately, refrigerated after opening or never? The Cooperative State Research and Extension Service may be able to help you organise your plans in the early stages (see Resources).
Check your local licensing and zoning laws. Your kitchen facility must be properly licensed to manufacture commercial goods. You will also need the proper licensing for yourself and your company before you begin selling your products. These laws vary by state, but the Resources listed can help you determine your local requirements.
Review the FDA's Good Manufacturing Practices (see Resources). These rules and regulations determine the processes that you must adhere to when preparing, packaging and distributing your goods.
Purchase packaging for your products in bulk. You will probably want to begin to establish a good business relationship with a manufacturer who specialises in the jars, bottles and boxes that are needed for your company. After packaging your product in the proper container, you will also need to label it accordingly with ingredients and nutritional information. These labelled packages will then need to be placed in boxes or coolers for shipment to their final destination.
Take the time to research and review all the legalities of starting a food business before you sink a large chunk of money into the endeavour.