Food Business Regulator
Many governmental agencies are involved in regulating food. It is often confusing to try to understand the laws governing the processing, packaging and distribution of food products. Persons starting their own food business often call the local health authority to find information about getting started. As often as not, they are referred to another agency, then finally referred to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.
The type of food and how it is prepared or processed will determine which agency has the regulatory jurisdiction. Federal, state, and county regulations require that foods be produced and maintained in a safe and wholesome manner. Each agency has a set of specific rules for products prepared or produced under its jurisdiction.
Ready-to-eat foods (foods served to the consumer for immediate consumption) and meals prepared on site are regulated by individual county health departments. County health departments use North Carolina foodservice rules as guidelines for regulating foodservice operations. These foods, whether served in a foodservice establishment, a food stand, or by a caterer are required to be prepared in a permitted establishment. Except in the case of catering, they must be served in or from a permitted establishment. The permit must be obtained in advance. Construction rules for facilities are strict. In North Carolina, plans must be submitted to the county health department prior to construction. A home kitchen is not allowed to be permitted except in the case of a bed & breakfast inn. Foodservice questions can be addressed to the environmental health section of your county health department.
Packaged foods, those which are wrapped and labeled for consumer purchase, are regulated by state agencies, usually under federal authority. In North Carolina, most packaged foods are regulated by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA). Meat and poultry products to be sold only in NC are regulated by the NCDA Meat and Poultry Inspection branch. Meat and poultry products to be sold in interstate commerce are regulated by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA. Other processed foods are regulated by NCDAs Food & Drug Protection Division. Fluid milk products and shellfish products are regulated by the N.C. Department of the Environment, Health and Natural Resources (DEHNR) Environmental Health Services Section.
Meat and Poultry
Meat and poultry products not to be shipped in interstate commerce must be processed in an establishment inspected and approved by the Meat and Poultry Inspection Branch of the NCDA. The USDA has jurisdiction for those products shipped to another state. Interstate commerce would include any operation which transports food across state borders. Slaughtering and processing facilities require buildings and equipment designed to predetermined standards and require prior approval. There are many other requirements of the operation, such as inspection of the individual animals health, and labeling. In certain situations, on-site inspectors are required. Home processing facilities are not likely to be approved.
Fluid milk products are regulated by rules adopted by individual states. The Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance, has been adopted to by all states. It regulates the production, processing, and sale of products such as fluid milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese. These rules not only cover milk from the cow to the consumer, but also the cow and its health.
Milk for manufacturing purposes such as in the production of cheese, butter, and nonfat dry milk, is regulated as a processed food under the rules of the USDA. These rules are in turn enforced by the NCDA. Raw milk in both instances must come from inspected and approved dairy farms. Raw milk may not be sold to the consumer.
Shellfish and Seafoods
Shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, etc.) harvesting and processing are regulated by the Shellfish Sanitation Branch (SSB) of DEHNR. The SSB also has jurisdiction for the crustacea, i.e., processing, packaging and distribution of cooked, ready-to-eat crab meat. Harvesting is actually regulated by DEHNRs Division of Marine Fisheries acting upon the recommendations of SSB. Shellfish shall be harvested from approved waters and require shipping documentation (tag) to that effect. Regulation of other seafood products is covered by rules adopted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the production of safe and wholesome foods. In addition, FDA will require written HACCP plans for the production and processing of seafood products by December 1997. NCDA Food and Drug Protection Division will carry out these rules in North Carolina.
Other Processed Products
Processed and packaged foods are regulated by the FDA. The Food and Drug Protection Division of the NCDA enforces these rules in North Carolina. Regulations governing these foods are found in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations. These regulations consist of Section 100 and 101 concerning labeling and Section 110 which covers Good Manufacturing Practices along with other sections that contain Standards of Identity, acceptable ingredients, and other rules. In special cases where foods are preserved with added acid or low-acid foods are canned, (pH at 4.6 and above) Sections 114 and 113 apply, respectively. These sections have special requirements, such as establishment registration under Section 108, filing of a scheduled process, and processing and packaging under the operating control of a certified supervisor.
Products held under constant refrigeration, or that are determined to be naturally acid foods with a pH of 4.6, or have a water activity (aw) of 0.85 are not covered by the provisions of 21CFR 113 or 114. However, Good Manufacturing Practices (21CFR 110) requires that adequate controls be in place to assure the products continue to meet these parameters.
Food regulations can be confusing and often complicated. In many cases a single food product or production facility may be covered by multiple jurisdictions. Almost all processing of foods requires prior notification to the regulatory agency.
Across all jurisdictions, food must be produced, processed, and held in a manner which prevents spoilage and contamination to keep it wholesome. Processing establishments must submit to unannounced inspections of the building and grounds. Unhealthy or ill persons must not be allowed to handle foods and pets are not allowed. For these reasons and others, home kitchens are not usually considered appropriate for processing purposes.
Because of the many rules for processing and preparing food for sale, the entrepreneur is advised to consult an expert prior to investing in a food processing venture. As in any business venture, know and understand the rules before you get started.
Beginning Food Business
Knowing how to cook and starting a food business are two different things. While you may have mastered cooking in culinary school, your next step is to learn how to start and operate a food business. You must decide what whether to sell cooked, baked, packaged or fresh food products. You must also decide if you want to own a retail store, sell your goods wholesale, or distribute your goods to other stores. You must comply with all the local health codes and labeling regulations [source: Start a Food Company]. Once you have decided the direction you want to go, this article will help you implement it.
Find a niche Be different. Find a niche in the market and run with it. This might be an interesting and catchy name or a new flavor.
Get recommendations Before people buy a new food product, they want to know that it’s tasty. Offer your product to well known establishments, such as restaurants or gourmet shops and ask the chef to rate it and recommend it. Once the word gets out that the product is good, you’re on the right track [source: Oprah Magazine].
Register your business All food establishments must comply with federal, state and local food and health regulations. You must register with the local health authorities and obtain a license. All states have different requirements, so check your state’s requirements.
Get insurance You can never be too careful. No matter how careful you are in making sure that your product is safe, accidents can happen. You must have product liability insurance in case something happens to a consumer who eats your product.
Compliance You must comply with all health and safety regulations. Set up a meeting with the local Food and Drug Administration office to find out what you must do.
Facilities You will have to rent the necessary facilities to house your business.
Labeling If your product will be sold in stores, you must label the product correctly with ingredients and nutritional value. Get the product evaluated by a laboratory to obtain the correct nutritional values.
Pricing Figure out how much to sell your product for
Everyone and their dog seem to be giving street food a go, but how do you make a living from it? If there’s a man who knows, it’s Yianni Papoutsis. After 15 years as a production technician for the English National Ballet, he opened his street food burger van, MeatWagon, in 2009, keen to take his life in a brand new direction.
Although he could not leave the day job until he set up the MeatEasy pop-up in a pub in London’s New Cross in early 2011, the combination of obsessive passion and assistance from some “grown-ups” means he has become one of Britain’s biggest street food success stories and how has two permanent sites in London: MeatLiquor off Oxford Street and MeatMarket in Covent Garden.
Location, location, location
Although intrepid foodies will travel far and wide for their fill, location is key, says Papoutsis. “The original MeatWagon site was in the grottiest, most backward industrial estate in Peckham. And, although people came, it wasn’t until I started doing the MeatEasy pop-ups at some of the pubs run by my now business partner [Scott Collins, who operates seven pubs across south-east London] that it really blew up. My food was exposed to so many new customers there, and the right customers.
Collins agrees: “Going to where the foodies already are is just a good move all round if they don’t have to travel far, they’re more likely to keep coming back, and you can get friendly with familiar faces that’s how word of mouth spreads and that, with street food, is important, because there is so much out there. You need to become a destination.”
Your supplier is also your friend
Despite co-owning two of central London’s busiest restaurant sites, Papoutsis sees little reason to change the suppliers he has used since day one. This, he says, played a great part in his success. “I have worked with the same meat and bun suppliers since the first day I opened the hatch on the MeatWagon van,” he says, propping up a table in MeatMarket, his T-shirt clinging to his small frame with sweat (he’d just sprinted over from MeatLiquor). “The key is not to just be a customer. Through developing a great relationship, they nurtured me when I was only buying a couple of kilos of meat, and were very patient with my lack of experience. Now I show that loyalty back the bakers of our buns, for example, have had to buy a new 35k oven each time we’ve opened a new site.”
Hang out with grown-ups
You can make the best burgers in the world but, if you want to expand and make decent money, you’ll struggle to fulfil your potential without some basic business know-how. Papoutsis’s advice: find a knowledgeable adult. “Numbers scare the shit out of me,” he says. “But to make money with a DIY food business, you need all that. There’s so many layers of knowledge you need apart from the food. Scott is my grown-up. I’ve always believed in my food, and never really had any plan at the beginning apart from making as many burgers as possible, but without him I might have still been in that industrial estate. Now we’re turning over millions.” Not that they’re rich, he stresses. “It all goes straight back into the business, into the best equipment, paying staff, things like that.”
Other people’s money will come in handy
Equipment, good produce, tools, fuel, promotion the costs of running a street food business all add up. If you want to expand to more than one location, or set up a permanent site, you will probably need to start thinking about looking for investors, and the earlier you start doing this the better. “I have a team of investors that own a minority stake in the business,” says Papoutsis. “Friends, family, supporters if they can each help a little bit, it adds up. Having financial reserves is often the only thing in the way of a street food business expanding if you can’t keep up with demand, you’ll lose out.”
Keep your van in a very safe place
If a van is the heart of your business, lock it up. Papoutsis learnt the hard way. “The first MeatWagon van was badly vandalised before a big festival it was ripped to shreds and was totally unusable. That’s a shitload of money I missed out on making.” So what did he do? “Scott kindly leant me the money to buy another one. But that got stolen before Christmas a time of year that’s another great opportunity, business wise.”
Van or no van, Papoutsis refused to give in. “This leads me on to my final bit of advice be adaptable. I didn’t have a van, but people still turned up at the pubs wanting my burgers, and I ended up cooking on rented griddles out in the snow, my feet turning into ice blocks. You have to be a bit wiley in this game.”
Trend of Organic Foods
America has a growing appetite for all things healthy. From zero trans-fat snacks to fortified foods with added health benefits, if it’s good for the consumer, it’s most likely good for business. Even candy is being loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, healthy extracts and vitamin C. But the real buzzword is organic. According to the Organic Trade Association, based in Greenfield, Massachusetts, organic food sales in the U.S. totaled nearly $14 billion in 2005, with double-digit growth expected from 2007 to 2010. According to the association’s press secretary, Barbara Haumann, consumers–especially the Generation Y crowd–are happy to do away with added hormones, antibiotics and genetic modifications.
Not sure there’s room for more competitors on the organic playing field? Have no fear. Opportunities abound, especially in niche areas like alcohol (according to the Organic Trade Association, organic beers grew from $9 mil-lion in 2003 to $19 million in 2005), candy, condiments and sauces, not to mention food for kids, babies and pets.
Gigi Lee Chang, 39, received a warm welcome when she officially launched her line of organic, frozen baby food products nationwide in major retailers like Wild Oats and Whole Foods Market as well as smaller natural and organic grocery stores this past August. Based in New York City, Plum Organics is the first to launch organic, frozen baby food on a national level, and Chang (above) expects 2007 sales to hit $1 million. Not bad for a company in its infancy.
Thinking of launching your own organic foods business? Follow these tips:
Play by the rules. “Entrepreneurs have to realize that there are national organic standards,” says Barbara Haumann, spokeswoman at the Organic Trade Association, a business association in Greenfield, Massachusetts, that represents all sectors of the organic industry. “Big, little or whatever, the standards apply to all. And we need to uphold the integrity of organic because it does mean something. You have to really do the research and follow the rules.” For information on how to become certified organic, check out the Organic Trade Association’s website at www.ota.com.
Go back to school. Gigi Lee Chang, 39-year-old founder of Plum Organics, an organic frozen baby food company in New York City, signed up for classes that were being offered by her local universities. The classes helped her gain perspective into an industry that she had no previous experience in.
Take baby steps. Before launching Plum Organics, Chang broke up the overwhelming task of launching a line of baby products into baby steps. Says Chang, “It was very much breaking it down and saying if I want to go from where I am now to my goal, what are the things that I need to do, what are the questions that I need to answer and then how do I go about trying to answer them.”
Set goals and stay on schedule. “You have to be very clear on your goal of when you want to be in market because whether you’re doing it full time or not, if you don’t have a specific time frame to work toward, it can just get put on the back burner,” says Chang. “I would encourage others to really put the stake in the ground and say, I’m going to do it by my birthday or by this trade show–whatever the markers might be.”
Attend industry trade shows. Whether you’re just attending or actually showcasing your product, trade shows are a way to get great exposure and some wind in your sail. Says Chang, “Trade shows give you a context, a way to meet people, and they can provide you with some really great resources because they have classes and workshops that you can take.”
Goood Product Delivery
Having packages shipped and left at your customers front door comes with many logistical problems, from missed deliveries to address mix-ups and stolen or weather-damaged documents and merchandise. To solve such problems and improve customer satisfaction, Amazon has joined with the U.S. Postal Service and several large retailers in instituting a secure package delivery service that should give consumers peace of mind when ordering online.
The process of requesting such a delivery service is supported by email or text message notification during checkout. Customers are asked online to search for and select a locker location, either by inserting an address, area code or a nearby landmark. Once the package arrives at the location, an email alerts the recipient and includes a locker number and a pickup code. The customer simply enters the code on the touch-screen display at the retail location and picks up their package.
But Amazon isn’t alone in the secure package delivery game. Several rival programs, including the U.S. Postal Services gopost and The UPS Store, also offer options that enable customers to have their packages delivered to a secure location for easy pickup.
Heres how the various services work:
The worlds largest online retailer is in the process of installing large cabinets called Amazon Lockers in strip malls, drugstores, convenience markets and grocery stores throughout the country. In the past year, Amazon Lockers have been placed into operation in many (mostly 24-hour) retail operations in several major cities with more on the way.
These lockers are only available for items sold or fulfilled by Amazon.com, so if you dont sell on Amazon, you cant ship merchandise to one of their locker locations. In addition, the lockers are limited to items weighing less than 10 pounds and measuring less than 11.8-by- 11.8-by-11.8 inches. Another restriction: Items cant require special handling.
Related: 5 Reasons You Should Make the Switch to Electronic Signature Technology
With the postal services gopost, its your customers who decide to go this route. Shippers cant offer this service as an option like they can with FedEx or UPS. Consumers visit gopost.com for a registration kit, receive a unique ID and a locker number and pickup code, similar to the way Amazon Lockers operates. Lockers come in three different sizes, small, medium and large (12-inches wide-by-15-inches deep-by-18.5-inches high). The consumer then provides the shipper with the gopost address for shipping merchandise.
Currently, gopost is only available in the Washington, D.C. area, but is expected to roll out nationally near post offices, grocery stores, transportation hubs, shopping centers and more by the beginning of 2013.
Related: How Can I Reduce Shipping Costs?
The UPS Store
For around $5, your customers can use their local UPS Store to receive packages they dont want delivered to their home or office address. Since packages arrive at a brick & mortar location rather than a locker, size and weight restrictions are less of an issue.
The UPS My Choice option allows costumers to avoid those sorry we missed you notices by signing up for a phone, email or text message the day before a package arrives, or a small fee they can go online and release packages requiring a signature. For even more control, including being able to use the My Choice platform to reschedule deliveries, deliver to another address, authorize leave at instructions, and more, theres an annual $40 Premium Membership available.
Related: Five Tips for Saving Money on Shipping
For small businesses that ship or drop ship products, these new shipping options offer you and your customers peace of mind, convenience and security. And since consumers love options, it wouldnt hurt to update the shipping-related FAQs on your website with information about these choices.
‘Free Shipping Day’ For Small Businesses
Business owners can still sign up for the fourth annual Free Shipping Day on December 16, by offering customers free delivery and promising that orders will arrive by Christmas Eve.
Luke Knowles, who started Free Shipping Day in 2008, estimates that about 2,000 merchants will participate this year, but he says he won’t be surprised to see as many as 2,500.
While Free Shipping Day virtually guarantees a bump in sales, it’s no free lunch: Eating the cost of shipping can get expensive. If you’re thinking about taking part, consider the advice of three small-business owners who signed up in previous years.
Jeffrey Dinslage, president and co-owner of Nature Hills Nursery
Jeffrey Dinslage, president and co-owner of Nature Hills Nursery
Photo Courtesy of the Company
For Nature Hills Nursery, free shipping is a big deal because the online garden center sends customers some pretty big items–like trees. But it’s worth it to the Omaha, Neb.-based company, which has signed up for Free Shipping Day for a third time.
The Payoff: “It really comes down to attracting new customers; that is 95% of the reason we offer free shipping,” says co-owner Jeffrey Dinslage. “The other 5% is getting rid of, or reducing, inventory.” He estimates he has attracted between 50 and 75 new customers by participating in Free Shipping Day.
The Downside: Profits are slimmer. For example, shipping a four-to-five-foot tree can range from $15 to $23. “The challenge is we ship perishable items and we ship a large item in most cases,” Dinslage says, “so free shipping is a promotional tool that we use sparingly compared to other e-commerce companies.” But the nursery can use the extra business at this time of year. “This is not what you would consider peak season for our business,” Dinslage says, “so it provides cash flow for the business.”
Advice: Business owners need to “take a look at all the hard costs–the labor, their corrugation or box, the product, all the overhead–and make sure they are still making a profit,” Dinslage says. So get out your calculators.
Related: Seven Ways to Hook Customers with Free Shipping
William Garnsey, the E-commerce Director of The Ansel Adams Gallery
William Garnsey, e-commerce director of The Ansel Adams Gallery
Photo Courtesy of the Company
The Ansel Adams Gallery sells photographs, books and prints at its store in Yosemite National Park and on its website. The average online sale is about $280, and the shipping charge averages $13, according to William Garnsey, the gallery’s e-commerce director. This will be the gallery’s third year participating in Free Shipping Day.
The Payoff: “Marketing exposure,” says Garnsey. “I feel it exposes us to a different market of consumers.” In 2009, the website more than doubled its daily sales on Free Shipping Day. Last year, sales also spiked, but not quite as much.
The Downside: “Sometimes there is a scramble to make sure all of those orders get framed and fulfilled in time so that they are received by the customer,” Garnsey says.
Advice: “You have got to prepare to make sure you maintain your inventory stock and make sure that you have your fulfillment resources in order so that you can get [orders], in our case, framed and packed and ready to ship,” Garnsey says.
Kristine Lewis, the owner aof Crazyartgrrl Jewelry, making bracelets.
Kristine Lewis, the owner aof Crazyartgrrl Jewelry, making bracelets.
Photo Courtesy of the Company
Related: How to Create an Ecommerce Shipping Strategy to Win Customers
Kristine Lewis and her family make all of the products for her Crazyartgrrl Jewelry business, including the signature Embraceling bracelet that wraps multiple times around the wrist. Based outside of Buffalo, N.Y., Crazyartgrrl Jewelry will be participating in Free Shipping Day for the third time because of previous sales jumps. In 2009, Lewis received 103 orders, compared with the two to five a day she was getting back then. Last year, she got 89 orders on Free Shipping Day.
The Payoff: “It doesn’t cost anything” to sign up, and the registration process is convenient, Lewis says. She also notes that on the Free Shipping Day web site, smaller retailers are being advertised right next to larger companies. “The first year that I did it,” she says, “I was parked next to Cricket Wireless.” Because shipping lightweight jewelry is relatively inexpensive, Lewis says, she doesn’t have to cut her profit margins to the bone.
The Downside: “Now, there is going to be a lot more competition,” Lewis says. “It is becoming so big it is almost becoming too big. You are going to get lost.”
Advice: Do the math–carefully. Consider the cost of paying for the shipping as an advertising expense. “If you can deal with that little ouch for the day, absolutely do it,” Lewis says. “I was sending bracelets across the country, which I had never done before.”
Food businesses operating within the city and county of Denver, including farmers market vendors, must comply with regulations intended to protect the food they store, prepare, and sell so that it is safe for consumers. Food regulations are set forth in the Denver Revised Municipal Code, Chapter 23. The regulations are approved by the Board of Environmental Health. Food businesses must comply with the City and County of Denver Retail Food Establishment Regulations. Manufacturers and wholesale food businesses may be required to comply with rules and regulations set forth by other regulatory agencies. Food businesses that fail to comply with applicable rules and regulations may be subject to Civil Penalties and Enforcement Actions. Note that licenses issued and inspections conducted by and for the city and county of Denver are not valid outside of this jurisdiction.
To start, consult the Public Health Inspection for more information on retail food establishment licensing, food manufacturing, mobile food establishment and food peddler information, and temporary retail food establishment and special event information.
In addition, all food businesses must maintain a current Denver Business and Professional license obtained through the Department of Excise and Licenses. The Department of Excise and Licenses can help determine which license is appropriate for your food business.
Food business Experience of Brigada
Filipinos love to eat, which is why food stalls in the country sprout left and right: from a simple food cart to a full-blown food bazaar. GMA News correspondent Bernadette Reyes – a food entrepreneur herself after putting up milk tea shop Tea & Co. – reported for News TV program Brigada about the food business craze in the country. She shares her thoughts on what she learned, both as a journalist and a businesswoman, from doing the story for Brigada.
Q: How did being a food entrepreneur yourself affect your treatment for the “food businesses” story?
A: It was easier for me to relate to the people I interviewed for the story since I’m also an entrepreneur. I was able to ask relevant questions that could best describe their challenges and feats in the business. It was also a fun experience for me since I was able to hear success stories that motivated me. An example is San, a Korean moved to do business here. On her first day, she earned a measly P200. There are days when business will be slow. I want people to be motivated by these inspiring stories and never give up as long as they have quality products to sell in the market.
Do you think other journalists should also look into starting a business?
Of course! As regular employees, we won’t be able to make a fortune out of our salary, whereas if we start our own business, the possibilities are endless! I could get two to three times more than what I’m earning as a journalist, and that’s just for starters. Imagine what it could be like in a year or two. But putting up a business may not be for everyone. It takes a lot of patience to put up one. It is nothing like, I have the capital; this will work. You need to have capital and commitment at the same time.
Why did you decide to put up a bubble tea house?
Since I cover the business beat,particularly DTI, I’m updated about the development in various industries. Retail remains to be one of the strongest sectors, with food and beverage business as the most viable business today. My target market includes students and young professionals who have that purchasing power to buy quality refreshments.
I was inspired to try my hands on the bubble tea business because I am a milk tea fan myself. My visit to Taiwan inspired me to put up my own tea house. Tea, after all, is known for its health benefits.
How does your being a news personality affect your business?
You may have noticed that I tagged my name in our branding. I hope that is able to add credibility to our brand. After all, it is my name that is at stake. That shows how much I trust I have in my products. It is worth my name and reputation in the industry.
Its funny, though, how people react when they find out I am the owner. Others would think I quit my day job as a reporter. Some are surprised to learn that a journalist would have the time to engage in business. Well, I’m living up to this life, so I guess any other journalist can do it, too.
How do you juggle your two jobs as a journalist and as an entrepreneur?
I start my day like any ordinary employee, but the rest of the day is nothing close to ordinary. I make calls one after another. At times, my staff would call to inform me of a machine malfunction in the middle of news coverage. It is helpful to have people you can trust. I have the support of my staff who are not only responsible but are also committed to make the business a successful endeavor.
I tell them, if the business grows, they grow with it. I don’t leave them behind. When sales are good, I reward them. I end my day really late as I still take care of my records before I call it a day. Just like any other person wearing two hats, proper time management is the key to achieve balance.
Any tips for budding entrepreneurs who also want to start their food business?
No one can guarantee the success of any business, but you can always choose to stay on top of the situation. Choose a business that engages you. If you like cars, consider selling car parts or try a car restoration business. If you love fashion, give RTW business a try.
Be patient. Your business will encounter bumps along the way. Prepare to face them. It also helps to have someone who can criticize your business without your feeling bad about it, and have someone to share the success of your business. Do not be afraid to accept criticisms. Take them in and find ways to resolve them
Opportunity For Food Franchise
Deciding what food franchise business opportunity is right for you begins at Franchising.com, a comprehensive directory and news resource. Receive franchise buyer advice through original, timely articles, while also learning about the most exciting and rewarding food franchise business opportunities by browsing Franchising.com’s comprehensive listings.
Owning a franchise-based restaurant, cafe, deli, or catering business is an appealing and rewarding opportunity with plenty of variety to choose from in both menu options and nationally-recognized fast food franchises.
With all of the available food franchise business opportunities, information from Franchising.com is an important first step in the decision-making process. From gourmet foods franchises to fast food business opportunities, learn about the many nationally-recognized and regional brands serving an established customer base.
Simply choose one or more of the food franchises below. Franchising.com will send more information about food franchises of interest, as well as franchise buyer advice about owning a franchise business. In addition to the food franchise listings below, franchise-seekers can narrow search results by clicking on the food franchise categories to the left, or these popular sub-industries: American food, fast food, restaurant, pizza, hamburger, coffee, sandwich, ice cream, chicken, hot dog.
Everybody remembers waiting for the ice cream truck on a hot summer day. Look around in most major cities and you will see hot dog and shish kabob vendors, pretzel carts, and fully-equipped catering trucks that provide the works for hungry patrons. A mobile food business can be profitable when your service meets a need. Once you find a market niche, you will be well on your way to setting up your mobile food operation. The rest is small potatoes. Follow these guidelines to get start your new enterprising venture.
Estimate your start up costs and decide if you can afford the initial investment in this business. The main things you need are a reliable vehicle, licenses and insurance. Inventory and personnel can be purchased day-by-day with profits.
Investigate mobile food franchises. If you choose this option, you will get a blueprint, business plan and support from the franchiser. Depending of the type of mobile unit, you can get in the door for less than $10,000 for a simple coffee cart or pretzel business. Of course, you can aim higher, but the franchise fee will go up.
Survey the competition to find out what services are already available in your area. Identify the gaps where your business could possibly profit. Look for ways to provide better or different food options, like mobile lunch sandwich delivery or breakfast muffins for office buildings or schools with limited food options nearby.
Visit a few potential venues and observe the traffic at each. Identify routes or locations that you think will be profitable. Consider starting at sports events and festivals to test the waters.
Develop your marketing plan based on the results of your research. Choose your advertising methods and draft your primary communication documents, including your letterhead, business cards and signs for your mobile unit.
Get prices for insurance. In addition to the insurance for the vehicle you use, you must have insurance that protects you from lawsuits that customers could file. Your state may also require additional insurance.
Learn the basics of food safety and food preparation. Check your Department of Health, the library and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for updated laws and restrictions that may apply.
Check the licensing requirements for your state. The city or state Board of Health usually issues food handling permits.
Register your business with the city and state as soon as you choose a business structure.