Florida Cottage Food Law Update

The Florida Cottage Food Law allows individuals to sell certain foods produced in a home kitchen. The foods must have a low risk of foodborne illness, as outlined in Section 500.80 of the Florida Statutes. Cottage foods cannot be sold wholesale and can only be sold in the State of Florida. Operators must properly package and label all cottage foods; in addition to free samples for tasting.

On July 1, 2017, the Cottage Food Law was amended. The annual gross sales of cottage food products allowed under the law increased from $15,000 to $50,000. Producers can now sell, offer for sale, and accept payment over the Internet. The product must be delivered in person directly to the consumer, or to a specific event venue.

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You Cannot Hire Help according to the Florida Cottage Food Law

Many cottage food operators in Florida are not aware that hiring temporary help is not allowed. However, according to an Environmental Specialist with the Florida Department of Agriculture, cottage food operators cannot hire employees of any type, not temporary, full-time, part-time or volunteers. You must do all of the work yourself and if you deliver your product, you must deliver it yourself. Cottage Food production is not regulated, CFO’s produce small-batch products, low volume and permits are not required.

The Florida Cottage Food Law does not allow anyone to produce the food except the cottage food operator. Doesn’t sound fair, does it? The Cottage Food Law is designed to help creative food entrepreneurs make extra money. A Cottage Food Operation is seen as a stepping stone; in the event, the business grows into a more profitable business, there for hiring help should never be seen as a necessity.

Review the Florida Cottage Food Law document and contact them at 850-245-5520 if you have questions.

The State of Florida provides a thorough overview of what is allowed as a Cottage Food Operator.

Starting a Remarkable Cottage Food Business in Florida

Low-risk foods involve any of the foods mentioned in this list.  The amazing aspect of the Florida Cottage Food Law is it allows residents to earn, but not exceed $50,000.

You do not need a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service food permit and are not inspected by any Florida government entity.

Florida residents interested in taking the Florida Cottage Food journey need to create a business plan. Learn before you leap. Earning $50,000 will not be easy.

Let’s stop and think about this. So you want to sell cupcakes? How many will you need to sell to make $50,000? At $3 per cupcake, you’ll need to sell 16,666. That’s 1,388 dozen or 26 dozen in 52 weeks.

Does that sound doable? By now you know unless you are selling gourmet cupcakes for a lot more money, this will be an uphill battle.

Selecting a profitable cottage food product begins by becoming a private-eye of sorts. You will collect information to discover what the consumers in your community want. Talking to consumers, the competition and pricing for profit.

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Let’s start with a check-list:

  • Assess your skills & resources
  • Inspect your kitchen
  • Basic knowledge of business startup?
  • Product list
  • Structure your business
  • Cost & price product
  • Assess the competition
  • Marketing & Advertising knowledge
  • Financial management
  • Sales location (eCommerce is not allowed in Florida)
  • Scaling the business
  • Selecting a Florida Cottage Food Product

There are a variety of cottage food products on the list, all are not profitable. Before you consider a product examine the following:

Your sales location.
Are there enough consumers in your area to sustain the product you have in mind?

How shelf-stable is the product?

Perishable products with a short self-life will need to move quickly off the shelf. A good example, baked-goods. Losses are high if you do not sell all your product in one day. Shelf-stable products, jams, jellies, and dried pasta will live to see another day.

cottage foodWhat do consumers want?
Take a look at what is missing in the marketplace based on the list of cottage foods allowed.

Do you now see why this is a process? You must learn before you leap into the business?

There is little room for error, otherwise, you risk losing money chasing after a product that no one wants.

What makes a profitable product? It depends. What are folks in your community head-over-heels for? Are there any food trends that have stood the test of time in your community?

What might be a few iconic Florida Cottage foods?

Some may need to be prepared in a commercial kitchen, and others in the home kitchen.

  • Key Lime Pie (Are there other key lime products? Pound Cake, cupcakes, cookies, cookie bars, shortbread cookies)
  • Boiled Peanuts (flavored, boiled in a special seasoning)
  • Kumquat incorporated in cookies, cakes, candy

One favorite smack in Florida is the Anastasia Confections’ Coconut Patties, a creamy coconut filling with a dark chocolate shell. Check out favorites from other parts of the U.S.

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What’s next?

  • Take a look at the Florida Cottage Food quick reference.
  • Learn the requirements
  • Stay away from potentially hazardous foods
  • Follow the Florida Cottage Food Labeling Requirements
  • Follow the rules regarding where Florida Cottage Foods can be sold
  • Know what locations can be used as processing facilities
  • Pet foods are not allowed under the Florida Cottage Food Law

What makes a “Remarkable Cottage Food Product?”

  • Seek to produce a product not currently in the marketplace.
  • If you produce a product in the marketplace, make it better, make it “REMARKABLE”.
  • The product must be “Remarkable” to the consumer, not you.
  • Think about what you will need to do to get your product noticed. In the direct eye of the consumer.
  • Your goal when starting your Florida Cottage Food Operation is to not only be ‘remarkable’ but attract consumers willing and able to pay for your “REMARKABLE” product.
  • If your product is sold at Publix, it’s not “REMARKABLE.”
  • Always be willing to reinvest and reinvent your product.

The State of Florida Cottage Food requirements are carefully documented but if you have questions contact them directly using the contact information below. Join the Foodpreneur Institute email list and Facebook page and let us know how we can support you.

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