How to Sell Food Items

Written by nella verde
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How to Sell Food Items
Find a retail space to sell your food items. (market stall selling fruit image by david hughes from

Selling food items can be very profitable. According to the University of Tennessee's Agricultural Development Center, the retail markup rate on food products is between 30% to 50%. Although food products are highly profitable, they are also highly regulated at federal, state, and even local government levels. County health departments and state agriculture departments are required to terminate businesses selling food items and operating outside of government guidelines. Thorough research and adherence to food safety laws can ensure you a long lasting run in the food industry.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Licensed kitchen
  • Retail location
  • Website

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  1. 1

    Decide whether you will sell prepackaged foods, prepared restaurant style foods, or a combination of both. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laws govern each differently.

  2. 2

    Secure an approved kitchen. Check with your state's Department of Agriculture and local Health Department to find out if your state has a "cottage food law". This law allows you to prepare food from home and sell to farmer's markets and other retail establishments.

  3. 3

    Secure a wholesale food distributor. Your local library has trade magazines and lists of wholesale distributors.

  4. 4

    Market your food items by offering a class. Conduct a class to introduce area customers to your new food items. For instance, if you are selling fresh fruit and vegetables in combination with prepackaged foods, hold a class for parents on "How to create nutritious snacks".

  5. 5

    Sell food items online. Sell food on an auction website or create your own website selling baked goods and food gift baskets. Place Google ads online using keywords that match the items you are selling. Be sure to only use next day shipping to ensure quality and safety of the food items.

Tips and warnings

  • If your state does not currently have a "cottage food law", check with other establishments that have licensed kitchens, and rent space by the hour.
  • All packaged food should be clearly marked with an expiration date.
  • Constantly check food safety recalls when selling food items.

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