Can You Sell Homemade Food Online

Posted by Damian Roberti on


So you maybe wondering can you sell homemade food online? Well in some states the answer is yes, but with a cath you have to deliver it yourself!


All right, So it's Damian from Marketing Food Online and in this podcast, which we will upload to our YouTube channel and our second YouTube channel, uh, we will definitely have this information available for our viewers on our YouTube channel as well. So this podcast I'm going to cover two specific questions:

""Can you sell homemade food products online" and "can I cook at home and sell them""? Now, the one thing you have to understand about selling food from home is this: Number one, it's going to fall under what's known as the Cottage Food Laws, but more specifically, what you want to understand is that you've got to define what you mean by homemade food, because Cottage Food Laws dictate that there are only certain types of foods that are called non-potentially hazardous foods. These are actually food products that do not have to be held at a certain temperature or time sensitivity. For instance, cooking a meal of chicken wings and French fries and trying to sell it to your neighbors.


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That was primarily not permitted under cottage food laws, but if a product was listed by state, with each setting up their own list specifically as to what they would allow, typically these would be baked goods, snacks, pop corn, or nut butters.Certain states allow salsa depending on the pH level as well. But these are the types of food products in general that are allowed across the board to be sold and shipped from home. When I say shipped, you have to actually deliver them in person. But one of the questions that we had was in regards to actually homemade food products online.


Now, the states do allow--there are only a few states that do this, but they actually do allow cottage food operators to create a website and sell a product through the internet. And the thing about it is that the catch with this is that it's kind of difficult is the fact that you have to deliver it yourself. You cannot sell food online from your home and then ship it across state lines or even within your own state.Which is a bit of a challenge because when you create an e-commerce food business and start to sell food online through that website, you're going to be open to everybody.

You're not just going to be open if you're in the state of Texas, you're not just going to be open to the state of Texas. People in California are going to find your website. So the trick is that you can't actually sell it to somebody in California. If you're creating a food product and selling it from your home in Texas, or even any other state for that matter, So the trick becomes this. Do you create a website and then have a disclaimer on there that says, "Look, we are a home-based food business," and that we are under the Cottage Food Laws? Now this is going to allow us to sell this product. But if you were out of the state of, let's say, Texas, we do not ship our products out of the state.


If you're within the state, we can deliver it to you. But then here comes the other side of that: if you're selling something like a $20 cake, you're not going to drive five or 600 miles to the other side of the state and deliver it. So if you ask the question, you know, can you sell a homemade food product online from your home? The answer is yes, and kind of a no. You don't want to ship it, you don't want to send it, you want to sell a product that you end up having to take it yourself and deliver it to the customer.


Because that obviously won't make much sense. It's obviously too cheap of a product. You can do farmer's markets, local events, festivals, you can do it even in some states that allow you to cater from your home, and do that locally, but have a website that's more informational. It's informative about who you are and what your business is. It's not necessarily e-commerce, but that's different. Creating an informational, informative website or blog that explains what you do and how you do it, and then telling the story of your food business, is one part of it.But actually turning that into a business, turning it into an e-commerce site where you're selling something, you can not, you can actually avoid that by not obviously offering anything.


Now, I would recommend that you create a website, even if you are starting a home-based food business, and that it be informative at first, but as your business grows and you get into a commercial kitchen, or begin to use that commercial kitchen, that makes sense, because then you can create that e-commerce store and start shipping, okay.So the other one is, can I cook at home and sell it? So yes, again, you can cook certain products, obviously, products that are not listed under your state-specific cottage food list, but you can cook products at home and you can sell them, but that's going to be, again, a localized business.

"Cottage Food License Application"

That's going to sell at local markets, local farmer's markets, and some states in California even have a license A, I believe, and a license B. And license B allows you to sell directly to retailers and even restaurants and third-party sellers. And if I'm wrong, let me know down below. Correct me if I'm wrong. But I do believe that California has a really good cottage food law where they allow you under that specific B, B licensing to sell that product to another third party. That is, it would go to a restaurant.Let's say if it was an ingredient of some kind and it went to the restaurant, they would use it and they could sell it to their customers. Or you go to a retail store and you sell it to the retail store. Then they're going to mark it up and sell it.

So that is a great advantage of the California Cottage Food Laws. But there are a couple of other states that allow you to sell locally, even outside of farmer's markets, but you want to check specifically. So to verify this for your specific state, to give you a quick tip, go to Google and type in "Cottage Food Law" and then the specific state that you're in. So if you're in Texas, you know, Cottage Food Law Texas, Cottage Food Law Florida, or whatever it may be. And the first, I think between the first and third or the first and fourth listing that pops up, there's going to be a government website set up by the state, a state-run government website. That's going to give you specific information as to what you can and cannot sell in that state. And there are also limits to how much you can sell and where you can sell it. So to answer the question, yes, you can definitely sell homemade food products online.

 "How to Get a Permit To Sell Food from Home"

The answer is yes. But it's a little bit trickier than you may think. It's not something where you can sell products on, you could buy it at the grocery store and flip it on eBay, Etsy, or Amazon from your home. Technically, that's illegal. Okay, Some states will allow you to, if you've got the space, you can build a separate building. Of course, there are zoning issues and stuff with this, but you could build a separate building or some type of facility on your own property. You'd have to check with the county and see where you live to do this, but there are, believe it or not, some people who do that.

They have a little extra space in their backyard or a couple of acres of land and they can build out a facility and you can ship it, but that would have to also be licensed and inspected. You also need to have a food business policy, insurance, and such. So those are a little more involved, but yes, the answer is yes, and sort of a no on this one.So if you have any questions about whether you can sell homemade food products online and also, you know, can I cook at home and sell it online? Yes, let me know down below, and I'll get to your questions as soon as we can. And I'll see you guys on our next podcast.