NC Cooperative Extension

Starting a Home-based Food Business

The first place for potential home-food entrepreneurs to start is:

  • North Carolina State University Food Science Department:  An Online Guide for Food Processors in North Carolina

If you want to sell a home processed food item:

  • NCDA General Guidelines Regarding Products Exhibited for Sale at Farmer’s Markets and Curb Markets

Note: Certain homemade products are restricted from sale at farmers’ markets (no low acid canned foods may be sold). Jams and jellies are permitted (but must be processed following 21 CFR Part 110), as are acidified or pickled products (and must follow 21 CFR 110 as well as 21 CFR 108 and 114).

Guide to Developing Processed Foods

* Is your product safe, shelf stable and pH balanced?
* NC State Food Science Departments Guide for Small Food Processors in North Carolina
* What information is required on my label?
* Can someone inspect my label for accuracy?
* Who do I call to get my kitchen inspected?
* How do I determine the legal weight of my product to report on the label?
* How do I get a UPC code?

Find the answers at

Extension has additional resources to assist the home-based entrepreneur and small- to mid-size farmers with starting a business:

Targeted towards small- to mid-size farmers, The Business Development Files offer step-by-step advice for those interested in building or expanding an agricultural business and can be adapted to home based entrepreneur. The new information consists of seven files, or steps, each providing guidance on various aspects of developing a business, from estimating market potential to calculating costs.  The Business Development Files include:

  1. Evaluating a New Business Idea
  2. Estimating Income and Cost: Calculating a Price
  3. Researching Your Market: Identifying Your Customers
  4. Researching Your Market: Evaluating the Competition
  5. Estimating Market Potential: Is There a Market?
  6. Legal, Regulatory and Insurance: Checklist for North Carolina
  7. Product, Price, Place and Promotion
  • NCSU Business Development Files

Contact Susan C. Condlin, County Extension Director for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County to review these files.  Gary Bullen, an Extension Associate in NCSU’s Agricultural and Resource Economics Department, spearheaded the effort to create the Business Development Files which will walk you step-by-step through the business development process and evaluate issues before investing time and money.

NCDA&CS Food & Drug Division now has their website cross referenced with the NC State Food Bioprocessing and Nutritional Sciences Department.

Other Resources:

Starting a Pet Food/Treat Business

Commercial Food Business Startups (including farmers seeking to add value):

Community Food Processing Centers in NC

Assumed Name Registration Forms (DBA)

Other Links

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