The renewed public interest in healthy local produce that we’ve witnessed in the past few years has been a bonanza for entrepreneurs. One often-overlooked opportunity for profit is the food-canning business. Canning saves ordinary consumers a lot of money on food costs and allows them to have access to healthy fruits, vegetables and more year-round. If you’re serious about getting a food-canning enterprise off the ground, there are a few hoops you’ll need to jump through. Here’s a quick overview of the best way to proceed.
First things first, you’ll need to decide on the size and scope of your would-be canning outfit before you get started. Unless you plan on running a small-scale operation from your home, you’ll probably need to rent some commercial space. The specific licenses and certifications you’ll need to operate your canning business depends on what kind of canning you plan on doing. If you need a small business loan, contact the SBA or your local community bank to acquire the necessary funding.
Once you have a solid plan in place, you should set up your shop before you contact any safety or health inspectors. Obviously, you’ll need bulk quantities of cans, jars and lids as well as cleaning supplies to sanitize your work environment on a regular basis. Furthermore, you’ll need to source the appropriate pressure canners and steam canners to meet your needs. Once you’ve narrowed down your equipment requirements, you can find the best deals online through comparison engines like Google Shopping.
As you’re probably already aware, any business that handles food preparation or preservation will have to abide by a fair amount of safety regulations. Since the rules vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, it’s best to contact your state’s Department of Health to find out what you’ll need to do to comply with the local laws. Many states have so-called “cottage foods” exceptions to the licensing process to help out SMBs. At some point, your business may need to get USDA approval. Lastly, iron out any tax issues with the local authorities.
Once you’ve worked your way through a moderately-sized pile of paperwork and red tape, you’re ready to get down to business. You’ll find that starting out small by canning food for friends and family is a good way to gradually ramp up your operation as you gain experience and build a reputation. Consider partnering up with local restaurants and farms that may be interested in taking their food production to a more professional level. The networking opportunities that can be opened up by doing so are substantial.
There are plenty of ways to advertise your services without shelling out a lot of money on marketing. Attending farmers’ markets and handing out business cards is a smart move regardless of where you live. Once you’ve established yourself in your area as a reputable business through traditional word-of-mouth advertising, it’s time to go online and market to a wider audience. Using social media platforms like Google + and Facebook more business is an obvious next step.
Regardless of the industry in which you compete, the only way to ensure your long-term viability is to be flexible and adapt to changing market realities. In that spirit, you must constantly be on the lookout for new niche opportunities to capitalize upon. Diversify your revenue sources and don’t allow your canning business to become overly dependent on a limited number of clients. If you’ve got the drive to see things through to the end, a canning business can ultimately be quite lucrative over the long haul.