How to start a food business

If you’re passionate about food, hard working and love talking to people then starting a food business could be just the business opportunity for you…

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What is a food business and who is it suited to?

One of the more democratic sectors to enter, but one that requires great fervor and tenacity to survive in. Any business entering the food industry must carve out a niche and promise something more special than the myriad foodie start-ups vying for a share of the market.

The foodpreneur must have a palette finely tuned to contemporary tastes and trends but be prepared to subvert them with innovative culinary creations and expect hard, physical work and long unsociable hours.

Of course, a food business idea can encompass many things. Will you make your own food? If so, it’s worth taking a look at our guide on how to start a food production business. Will you make your food in front of customers? If so, you may want to take a look at our guide on how to start a street food business.

Lavinia Davolio, founder of boutique confectionary business Lavolio, says that while “food is an essential part of everyday life”, it’s also “a very big industry, with lots of existing competition and with its specific challenges”. Being “extremely passionate about food”, she says that starting a food business is a “way to combine a challenging career with something you feel very strongly about”. The long hours shouldn’t seem as bad when you’re doing something you enjoy.

Ed Smith, co-founder of superfood chocolate company Doisy and Dam describes a food business as “any business that works in the process of getting food from the ground to your mouth”.

For Smith, loving food isn’t enough: the nature of the industry demands a lot of time spent engaging with other people and is particularly suited to “those who like to talk to people all day. The less time behind the computer the better”, he explains: “You get to deal with tangible products, real customers and delicious food”.

Building a website for your business idea is easier than you might think. Our online tool ranks the top website builders that offer free trials.

But no food business is an island and it’s not just the customer you need to be friendly with. If you want to keep cogs turning you need to maintain solid working relationships with everyone from suppliers to stockists as well:  “Always be honest and do good business with people,” he warns.

Despite its highly competitive nature, Smith advises taking advantage of the knowledge and expertise of your peers and helping them out in turn: “The more you share with others, the more they will share with you.”

Anna Mackenzie, founder of on-the-go muesli pot start-up Cuckoo concurs: “Take lots of advice from those more experienced to validate your idea before you go ahead and invest considerable resources in it”.

While she agrees that it’s a tough industry to break into, the grind is worth it as it makes it all the more “rewarding if you are successful”. Simply making “sure you have an exciting and solid business proposition that you are passionate about” is a good place to start from she concludes.

Over the years, we have featured many food business ideas on these pages – from frozen yoghurt to Peruvian food. Take inspiration from what is – and isn’t – on the market right now; for example, Startups looked into new food businesses redefining healthy eating in the last few years.

Here are just a few food business ideas:

If you’re a gregarious individual, who’s passionate about creating, experimenting with and eating food, and are prepared to work hard, read on to find out how to create the essential foundation of any business: the business plan…

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.