Jams were very popular when I was a kid. Lately, homemade jams have been gaining their popularity back, so it’s reasonable that someone might think that it would be a good idea for a home business. But don’t be fooled. It’s actually a lot more complicated than you might think.
1. Licenses and Regulations
The amount of things you’ll need to do, when it comes to licenses and regulations for selling canned food, can be really exhausting. Make sure you study this really well, and if possible hire a professional to help you.
First of all, you need a licensed kitchen in order to sell canned food. That means, among other things, no pets allowed and no handling the food while you’re sick. Converting your home kitchen into a licensed one is close to impossible, and can cost up to 50,000$, but fortunately there are other ways.
Some people choose to rent already licensed kitchens, such as restaurant kitchens after working hours. Local cannery will also do. Other possibility is to work with a co-packer, who will manufacture, and pack your food for you and make it ready to sell.
You may also need a local business license. This varies from state to state, so it’s best to look on your state’s government website for this. Check if there are any other laws and regulations you’ll need to follow in order to sell jams from home.
2. Liability Issues
People who work with canned food get sued a lot. Some of those suits are a complete idiocy, while others are totally legit food poisoning law suits. Since this can be really exhausting, it’s essential to do your best to avoid being sued.
There are real risks of doing something wrong with canned food, and actually give someone a good reason to sue you for food poisoning. This is why it’s best to work with aforementioned co-packers. If a co-packer does all the work for you, you basically never touch the food. This greatly reduces the chances, but you still need to pay close attention to what you’re doing. Even without a law suit, your business could go down in a blink of an eye.
3. Lab Testing
Since you will be selling food that has a certain shelf life, some lab testing is mandatory. Your jam needs to be tested and safe to eat, and then its shelf life needs to be determined.
Determination of a shelf life, of a certain product is a process that contains three types of testing: microbiological, chemical and organoleptic. It could also cost you a bit, so it’s the best idea to ask around in a couple of labs. You can find the list of labs that could do your shelf life determination on this link.
4. Food Regulations and Labeling
These two things are, for most, people more than just complicated. There are lots of things you’ll need to know about food regulations, and none of them is easy to understand. This is why it is simply mandatory to hire a professional, to help you with this. You’ll probably need to notify more than just one agency that you are planning to start a food business and to get required licenses from them.
When it comes to labeling, the situation is only slightly better. Again, it is more than just advisable to hire a professional, but if you decide to do this on your own, here’s what you need to know.
First of all, labeling includes all labels and all other written, printed or graphic documents that have something to do with your product. You’ll need to clearly state if your product contains any allergen. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is in charge of labeling, and you can download a food labeling guide in .pdf format from their official website on this link.
If after reading all of the above, you are still interested in starting your own home business of making jams, here are additional things you’ll need to pay attention to.
5. Having a Good Product
It is a fact that you like your own jams. You wouldn’t consider selling them if that wasn’t the case, right? However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that people will buy your products. It’s a good idea to check this out before you engage in anything seriously.
I would always invite some friends over, and offer them to try my home made jam. I would also give my jams as gifts to close friends and neighbors. You should ask anyone you trust, to give you their honest opinion about your products. If people actually do like it, you can continue with your plan.
6. Earning Some Money
You are doing it to earn some extra bucks after all. That also means that you need to know how to earn that money. You can’t just jump into business without having a clue about how to run it. Hire a professional!
You may think that selling is easy, but you really need someone to help you determine the costs you’ll have. You’ll need to invest some money in the beginning and you’ll need to set up a good price for your product. In order to do that, you have to count in all the costs of making your jam.
Advertising is the crucial part of selling anything. You can have the best product in the world, but if people don’t know about it, you won’t sell a single jar. So, pay close attention to advertising.
See if your state allows selling homemade jams on farmers market, and on church sales, for example. Advertise in your local newspapers and on the internet. Make business cards or leaflets, and give some of them to your family and friends to give to their friends. You’ll need some time until the word gets out, but it is not impossible.
I can conclude that selling jams from home is quite a tricky thing to do. However, if you are persistent, I am sure you can make it happen. Follow these tips and go for it!