How to start a popcorn business

Popcorn image by Yvonne Bogdanski from

Popcorn is a versatile snack food that can be enjoyed with both sweet and savoury flavourings. The ingredients are relatively inexpensive, and the finished product has considerable volume, which adds to consumers' perception of its value. A popcorn business can be fun as well as profitable. It offers an opportunity to provide a widely enjoyed item and to experiment with different seasonings, while working with reasonably shelf-stable materials that offer healthy profit margins.

Write a business plan for your popcorn business. Describe the particular focus of your popcorn business, such as gourmet popcorn or low-fat popcorn. Provide an overview of the different flavours you will produce, including sweet and savoury varieties. Include a description of your key clientele, including whether you will package your popcorn and sell it wholesale, whether you will open a storefront location, or whether you will operate a concession booth at fairs and sporting events. Provide financial information with your business plan including cash flow projections detailing how you will weather seasonal fluctuations such as diminished sales in the winter if you own a popcorn concession.

Purchase the necessary equipment for your popcorn business, including a commercial gas popper with a sifter if you will be manufacturing and packaging popcorn, or a portable popcorn maker if you will be vending at temporary events. Set up your facility to comply with relevant health codes. Popcorn is not considered a potentially hazardous food so you will not need refrigeration unless you are topping it with real butter. You will, however, need provisions for basic sanitation such as stainless-steel sinks to wash equipment and utensils and accessible hand washing facilities. Fill out health department permits, pay the necessary fees and schedule required inspections before you open.

Purchase inventory for your popcorn business from online popcorn suppliers or food service warehouses. Purchase dry popcorn, oil, flavourings and packaging materials such as bags or cans. Design and print a label for your popcorn. If you will be selling wholesale or retail packaged product, include an ingredients list, product weight, nutritional and allergen information, and contact information for your company.

Market your popcorn business to potential customers who enjoy sweet and savoury snacks. Design a colourful, attractive sign if you will be selling popcorn at a retail store or concession venue. If you will be selling popcorn wholesale, schedule product demonstrations at stores that carry your brand in order to provide taste samples to prospective buyers.

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