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The Business Side of Food Manufacturing and Service

The Business Side of Food Manufacturing and Service

Maybe you have loved food all your life. You love cooking it, eating it, and experimenting with it. If so, you probably knew from early on that your professional life would involve food in some way.

What some people don’t realize is how vast the food industry is. You can be a critic, or you might be a chef, sous chef, or a server. Maybe you want to go in a different direction and create mass-produced food that stores all over the country carry.

You most likely prize creativity and want some freedom as you get into the culinary profession, but there’s a business side to this field as well, though, that you cannot ignore. Let’s talk about some ways you can enter the food industry and some of the business aspects involved with each option.

Mass-Producing Food

Let’s say that you have some recipes that you love, and you feel like you can mass-produce food. Maybe you’re making cookies, pasta, or soup. You’re sure that you can mass-produce it and get a contract with an entity like Whole Foods, Costco, or Amazon.

Mass-producing food can make you a lot of money, but there is certainly a business side to it. One of the things you’ll have to determine is whether you should manufacture and pack the food yourself or whether you’ll want a co-packer to handle that step.

If you do go with this second option, you’ll need to think about mistakes to avoid when choosing a food co-packer. Some will overcharge you, and others won’t do as good of a job as you’ll expect.

You can avoid this issue if you pack the food yourself. This is normally the cheaper option, but you’ll have to locate some dedicated, skillful workers who want to be part of a food-related startup.

Starting a Food Truck

You might decide that a food truck makes the most sense based on your skill set. You’ll need to either buy the truck or rent it. Then, you’ll have to retrofit it with whatever you need to create your culinary offerings.

You’ll probably want someone to paint the truck for you. You’ll need to look into getting a license for it if your state and city require that. You’ll need to make some contacts who can place you at festivals, concerts, or in an area where commerce occurs. Maybe you can become a hit with a major city’s lunchtime crowd.

You’ll have to decide whether you can handle the lunch or dinner rush by yourself or whether you need to bring on another employee or two. You might also have to play around with the menu a bit until you determine your likely bestsellers.

Opening a Restaurant

You might decide to open a restaurant. Of the various food-related business endeavors, this option is probably the most ambitious and complex.

You’ll need to find the necessary funding. You might take out a loan, or you could see if some relatives will lend you the startup capital. You might also approach an angel investor to see if they have an interest.

You’ll need to hire your staff and decide what kind of lease you want. You and your chefs can tinker with the menu to figure out dishes that are likely to catch on. You’ll also have to think about the décor, the lighting, and so forth. You’ll also need to get a liquor license if you want to serve booze.

Opening a restaurant can bring you fame, but it’s risky. Many eateries fail within the first six months to a year. Also, with the pandemic, now is a difficult time to open any new business.

You Can Work for a Restaurant

Getting a restaurant job is probably the easiest option. You show you have the skill set to work as a line cook or a short-order cook, and you can often work your way up from there. If you go to culinary school, that looks good on your resume.

Some of these jobs pay well if you can get a spot in a high-end eatery. It’s hard work, but many people love it. One nice thing about a restaurant hiring you is that if the business folds, you did not sink all your savings into it, and you can probably find a new position without too much difficulty.

Consider which one of these options sounds appropriate for you, and you’ll soon be on your way to your dream culinary job.


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by Lottie Pritchard // Lottie Pritchard is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.