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Selling Food Online

Today, many people are thinking about starting a home-based food business. But when it comes to selling food from home or selling food online, there are a few things to think about before you get started. The good news is, if you follow the rules, you can create a profitable home-based business.

Although the regulations for selling food can be tricky, the bottom line is that you need to know the laws in your area. For example, in the United States, you'll want to look up the Cottage Food Regulations in your state. 

Laws vary, but most of them follow the same concepts. Some of the things you'll need include a permit, a reputable supplier, packaging, and labeling that meets the requirements. You'll want to make sure that you have proper storage. 

Also, typically no pets are allowed in the kitchen where you prepare the food. Additionally, plan to get a business license. Cottage food laws allow you to sell low-risk homemade food items. And several states have now implemented food freedom laws that ease regulations.

If you're thinking about selling food online, you probably have lots of questions. You can use this guide to get some answers.

Can You Sell Homemade Food Online? 

One of the first questions to pop into people's minds is, "can you sell homemade food online?" Selling homemade food online is legal, depending on your location. But not for all foods, and as we mentioned earlier, state and international regulations do vary.

Maybe you're wondering, "can you resell packaged food?" Like homemade foods, licensing for prepackaged food also varies by location and type of food. And there is usually licensing or permits required.

In all cases, it comes down to sanitation and food safety. For example, low-risk foods like canned goods, candy, and bakery items generally have fewer regulations. However, potentially hazardous food that needs refrigeration typically requires a licensed commercial kitchen.

So if you're wondering, "can I sell food online from home," the short answer is, more than likely—yes. But it depends on the food and your physical location.

Now you might be thinking, "where can I sell my food products online?"

Where to Sell Food Online

Today there are plenty of options for where to sell food products online. Generally, there are three categories:

  1. Online marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy
  2. Ecommerce websites such as Castiron 
  3. Curated products through a supplier

Established online marketplaces enable you to create an account and start selling quickly. Ecommerce websites like Castiron, Shopify, or Wix allow you to create a branded store where you can express your style.

On the other hand, you don't have to handle any food products if you sell your food through a supplier. You'll use your ecommerce website to take orders and provide customer service while the suppliers ship the products. When you have a vendor that manufactures and stores the product, it's known as dropshipping.

There are pros and cons to each option. Ultimately, your choice is all about the kind of business you want to create.

Permit to Sell Food From Home 

Getting a permit to sell food from home varies from state to state in the US. And there are different regulations throughout the world. That means if you're wondering, "do I need a license to sell homemade food," the answer is, it depends on where you live.

Here are a few examples of state laws and how to get a license to sell food.

Selling Food From Home, Texas

You can sell homemade food in Texas. Depending on the business, you will need to fill out a Texas food permit application

While your homemade food business doesn't need the same type of permits as some other food industry establishments, you will need a Texas cottage food law certificate. This accredited class in food handler's training is good for two years. And you can take it online or in person.

What's more, once you've completed food handler's training, you can sell any food that doesn't require the correct temperature to prevent it from spoiling.

The list includes:  

Selling prepackaged food in Texas, such as dry mixes, roasted coffee, dry tea, herbs, and herb mixes, are also among the food okay to sell under Cottage Food Laws. Selling food online is okay as well. However, Texas cottage food law shipping specifies that you must deliver to customers and only ship within Texas.

There are other regulations that you need to know. For example, your gross annual income must be $50,000 or less from cottage food sales. 

And you must package your products to prevent contamination. Some items such as wedding cakes or cupcake bouquets don't require packaging. 

Texas cottage food law 2020 updates included labeling requirements. And selling food online in Texas is okay as long as you can deliver it personally.

How to Sell Homemade Food in California

Maybe you're wondering, "do I need a license to sell food from my home if I'm selling food from home in Los Angeles. California Cottage Food Laws require either a Class A or Class B permit from the county health department. 

A Class A permit covers you if you want to sell directly to customers in California at farmers markets, festivals, from your home, or online. On the other hand, a Class B permit enables you to sell through stores, restaurants, or other venues. 

Additionally, selling prepackaged food in California requires meeting labeling requirements, meeting food handing and kitchen codes, and may also require insurance. 

Selling Food From Home NYC

Now, if you want to figure out how to get a permit to sell food from home in NYC, go to the Department of Health for regulations and permit requirements. States with a higher urban population generally have stricter requirements. But the good news in New York City is that certain baked goods, jellies, and snack mixes may qualify for a Home Processor exemption. 

The exemption means you could use your home kitchen for wholesale or retail food sales at agricultural farm venues.

Permit to Sell Food From Home Florida

Do you need a license to sell baked goods from home in Florida? What about selling prepackaged food in Florida? Baked goods and prepackaged foods are legal to sell if they don't fall into the potentially hazardous foods group.

In Florida, cottage food operations don't need a license or permit, and there aren't any government inspections. But if you sell cottage food products online, you must deliver them in person. 

The good news is, you may sell cottage food directly from your residence, at farmers' markets, and roadside stands. However, your annual sales can't be over $50,000.

Permit to Sell Food From Home in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, you need a Residential Retail Kitchen Permit. Additionally, the state limits the types of foods you can prepare. Like many other states, you can offer items such as jam and baked goods.

Keep in mind that many foods are not usually cottage food items. The list includes food such as:

Any foods requiring federal processing approval are also prohibited. Massachusetts law also requires a state-approved vendor, and you'll need dry and cold storage separate from your food.

How to Start a Small Food Business at Home 

Maybe you're wondering how to start a food business with no money. The truth is, it is going to take some investment, regardless of your product or service. However, some ways, such as dropshipping prepackaged food for resale, take less of an investment.

Using dropshipping for food and drinks might also be a great addition to your offerings when you're researching which homemade food products to sell online.

When you're considering how to make money selling food from home, keep an open mind. Some of the least expensive startups are services such as a home chef. Of course, you will still need to decide what kind of homemade food to sell.

Here's a brief checklist on how to start a small food business at home:

Among the things to think about as you gather information for your new business is how to sell food from home legally. The best way to ensure you remain legal is to check the Cottage Food Laws in your area. You will also want to make sure you have any required business licenses and permits.

Take the appropriate steps, and you'll feel confident as you start your new home-based business.

Also, consider where your products fit in a niche category. Are your food products a novelty? Maybe they're gourmet or artisanal. Small batch, certified organic, fair trade, gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan are popular niche categories.

Conducting market research to find out what sells best in your area is an essential part of starting your home-based food business. You can set yourself up for success by taking some time to find out what works for your competitors.

Homemade Food to Sell 

Food business from home ideas are often nostalgic, and that's one of the selling points. Today consumers are motivated to buy from local producers rather than big market manufacturers. 

Additionally, homemade food ideas are often cultural. For example, you might have an old family recipe and want to know how to sell tamales legally in Texas. The short answer is, it requires a permit.

The best online food business ideas usually come from a personal passion or hobby. Selling prepackaged food online is a natural choice for things like spices and candy. And if you make canned goods, you can also dropship prepackaged pasta to extend your product line.

You might even consider fun products like gift baskets and themed collections.

As you're thinking about what kind of homemade food to sell, it's usually going to be the kind of food that has some significance in your life. It could be a unique BBQ sauce recipe or a favorite homemade canned food. 

If you're wondering, "can I sell BBQ from my home in Texas," consider offering the dry ingredients to avoid any issues with food regulations. You might be able to sell your sauce, but you will need to check to make sure it doesn't fall under any exemptions.

You'll also need to apply for a permit and register your business so you can pay sales taxes.

Additional Resources

App to Sell Homemade Food | Homemade Food Marketing Ideas | Selling Baked Goods Online | Food Ecommerce Sites | Selling Food on Facebook | Home Bakery Websites | Food Selling Websites | Cottage Food Business | How to Sell Food Online | How to Sell Food Online From Home | Can You Sell Food on Etsy? | Selling Food Online | Free App for Selling Home Cooked Food | Free Website Builder for Home Cooks | Food Ecommerce Website | Home Based Bakery Website | Website Builder to Sell Food | Best Website Builder for Bakery | Homemade Food Selling Website

Starting a homemade food business takes a lot of work, but it's easy to start selling your food online. Learn how to sell food online with this guide.

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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