Food business ideas never go out of style as everybody needs to eat, several times a day. That’s why starting a business centered on food can be a truly rewarding enterprise.
Food Business Ideas
Here are 84 food business ideas, including many with low startup costs.
A professional meal planner helps people eat healthily over a set period of time. This works especially well for people on a diet who are trying to lose weight. The planned schedule for their meals can minimize snacking and unhealthy impulse eating. This role is similar to a dietitian.
Fitness Food Prep
Another excellent business idea is a combination of meal planner and nutrition coach. Preparing food in advance for the likes of athletes and bodybuilders is something of a niche. You would need to have potential clients lined up in advance. If you are already a part of the health and fitness world with contacts at gyms and fitness centers, there is definitely an opportunity for a food prep business.
Organic Food Shop
There has been a huge surge in the popularity of organic items in recent years, so an organic food shop could be the perfect business idea for you.
Yes, supermarkets and chain stores sometimes have small organic food sections or offer a few such items on their shelves. But a store dedicated to such products will always be more attractive to shoppers seeking organic groceries.
Berry, Apple, Pumpkin, etc. Picking Farm
As a farmer with any of these crops, you can create different business plans. First you can distribute your harvest to restaurants, farmers markets or other food-related businesses. Additionally, you can have people come to your farm and pick the crops themselves.
This is especially profitable with seasonal events such as Halloween or Thanksgiving.
Cake Decorating Classes
Have a cake shop? One of the best ways to supplement your income is by offering cake decorating classes. These classes are inexpensive for you to conduct and very popular for foodies who want to learn one more trick of the trade.
The food delivery business is now a standalone business. Although there are big national brands in the segment, your delivery business can specialize in certain cuisines or locations.
Take a look at the delivery service in your area. Figure out how you can do it better.
There seems to be no end to the popularity of craft beers. If you have a passion for beer and you want to produce your own brew, this is a great business opportunity.
Once you have the right brews you can sell them to bars and local stores and at special events.
The initial investment for a fish farm can be expensive, but once you have a working system in place it is very lucrative.
With the right product you can supply restaurants, grocery stores and even direct to consumers.
Whether in an outdoor mall, sports venue, parks or any location attracting large groups of people, food kiosks are a must. They can be as simple as selling cold water, drinks and packaged snacks. With the right location and the right offerings, you will be guaranteed to get customers.
While kiosks are limited on what kind of offerings they can sell, a food truck can sell almost anything. Sandwiches are popular. Food trucks require a hefty initial investment, but they are worth it if you have the right product.
Setup location is important for food trucks. But if you have a great menu, people will make the journey to taste your offerings.
Popcorn is one of the most popular snacks around, and is healthy to boot (if you cut out the butter). But with gourmet popcorn, you can create a wide range of flavors and colors making offerings even more popular.
You can run the business from home and grow your customers, or later open a shop. This is one of the more affordable businesses with low startup costs. You can begin right away.
Health Food Store
People are more aware of what they eat today; health food stores are for everybody. The good thing about this industry is it continues to grow.
You can further specialize by providing unique natural products grown locally as well as herbs and spices from around the world.
The right herb can take an ordinary recipe to another level. One of the good things about herbs is you don’t need a large piece of land to grow them.
With the available technology for indoor farming, you don’t even need to be out in the country. You can rent a warehouse to launch an herb farm in the city.
You’ve probably seen a hot sauce challenge on YouTube. In fact, one of the more popular shows on YouTube is Hot Ones, which has a whopping 8.7 million subscribers in 2020.
The show has celebrities eating increasingly hot chicken/vegan wings. Some of the hot sauces they use are unique brands using unusual peppers and herbs. This is another one of those small business ideas you can start at home.
International Food Retail
The international aisle in some grocery stores leaves much to be desired. For most foodies, finding ingredients means running around town to markets from different nationalities; if they are available.
Opening an all in one international food store is one way to seize opportunity.
People want to eat good meals, but their busy schedules don’t allow them to cook. By making meals that are ready to eat, you can establish a large customer base. This can eventually lead to a restaurant and other business options.
Dietary Foods for Patients
Many doctor’s patients have strict dietary requirements. If you are a cook, you can get together with a dietitian and collaborate on a business specifically designed to address this group.
If you get into this business, you will be working with clients with chronic diseases. So get ready for long-term relationships with them.
From birthdays to parties, celebrations and countless other events, having a bartender will make the occasion more festive.
However, finding a good bartender is not easy. If you pride yourself in being a good bartender, you can start a mobile bartending business. And with so many events, you can grow your business quickly.
The button mushroom used to be the only mushroom most people knew. But today the market has a wide range of mushrooms.
A mushroom farm can be a very lucrative business if you start growing gourmet or medicinal mushrooms. You can sell them directly to customers, restaurants or health food stores.
Olive Oil Retail
Olive oil offers health benefits and provides great flavor to foods. The problem is, finding good premium olive oil can be difficult.
With so many brands and varieties from around the world, opening a store solely dedicated to olive oil can be a destination.
If you are trained as a chef, becoming a personal chef is a great way to get your career going. It can also work if you are a well-established chef.
Whether you are just starting or a seasoned pro, this career provides flexibility, creativity and great pay. It has very low startup costs.
Bakery that Makes Food for Pets
Who doesn’t love their pets? And while not everyone can afford to give their pet gourmet food or baked goods all the time, they can be occasional treats.
With 68% of U.S. homes owning some kind of pet, there is huge potential in this segment.
If you are looking to gauge how people will respond to your food, you can open pop-up restaurants. If all goes well, you can decide on a location and go for it. Experiment with different themes and menus in your pop-up restaurant.
According to the National Restaurant Association, there are more than 1 million restaurants in the U.S. as of 2020. They all need supplies. Even though there are well-established suppliers, you can get in by providing unique products. Choose some from this list, such as gourmet olive oils or mushrooms.
Salt!? Not that long ago, there were only one or two kinds of salt in most grocery stores. Now you can get everything from Himalayan to French Gray salt and so much more.
This a great business with low startup costs. Operate from your home to supply your local eateries as well as customers online. Eventually you might open a retail shop.
Just like the salt and herb idea, spices are also a great way to start a business in your home and grow. Granted the spice aisles in supermarkets are formidable, but in most cases, spices have been sitting on the shelves for a long time. Introduce fresh spices and it won’t be long before you attract customers from everywhere.
Coffee shops are a dime a dozen and they also offer tea in most places. But if you specializing in just tea from around the world, you will have a good business model.
Since this will be a specialized shop, you have to find the right location as well have a strong online presence to ensure the long-term viability of the business.
There are many types of water for sale today. The bad news is you can’t find them all in one place.
As people continue to choose high-quality water, having a business solely dedicated to water and water paraphernalia is not that absurd. The industry will be worth $217.2 billion by 2026, so there is a great opportunity.
Wine Shop, Class or Tasting
The total wine market value in the U.S. was $70.5 billion in 2018. This is a huge industry that supplies consumers and eateries.
As a licensed operator, you sell directly to consumers as well as businesses in the industry. You can hold wine classes and wine tasting to supplement your income in a very substantial way.
Canning fresh foods is a popular way to preserve fruits, vegetables and even meats. The problem is the process is labor-intensive.
Provide a service for canning the foods people want to preserve. The business may be seasonal depending on what people wish to can, but may be year-round depending on demand.
Jerky meat is a very popular source of quick and readily available source of protein for health-conscious people. Even though it has been around forever, a new customer base is discovering jerky.
Making jerky is relatively easy, but time-consuming. With the right tools and ingredients, it’s not hard to produce jerky and have a lucrative business.
Online Cooking School
One of the greatest features of the internet is you can be anywhere and provide a service. If you are a professional cook or simply someone who loves to cook, you can launch your own online cooking school.
With video or other technology, you can offer online classes one-on-one or to multiple people at the same time. Best of all you can do it from the comfort of your own home. No need for a commercial kitchen.
Catering Equipment Rental
There are thousands of catering gigs taking place every week across the country, and not all of them have their own equipment.
This is a specialized segment of the industry, but if you make inroads it can be very lucrative. At the same time, you can also expand to the supply side of the foods caterers need.
Menu, Food or Nutrition Consultant
As a consultant, you can address restaurants, chefs, nutritionists, and organizations that have food services such as schools.
With so many dietary requirements in today’s nutritional spectrum, being a consultant is an invaluable asset. This business requires certifications and degrees, but with the right credentials it can be a strong business model.
Not all breads are created equal, and artisan bakers have managed to show people what they are missing.
If you are already a baker, making the switch will be much easier than starting over. But no matter which way you start your business, the growth of artisan breads and baked goods will keep your company going.
Nut Butter Retail
You can make peanut, almond, cashew, macadamia, pistachio and other nut butter. By making butters yourself without preservatives and added sugars you stand out from the processed products in grocery stores.
One downside is allergies — you must be careful. Another downside is the cost — some nuts can be expensive. But if you find the right supplier and you are careful, it is a great business.
Energy Drink Business
Energy drinks are everywhere, but they leave much to be desired when it comes to health. If you create your own natural energy drink, you can have a slice of this $32 billion segment.
The process can be expensive initially, but if you believe you have the best product the payoff can be huge.
Gourmet Ice Cream Cones
Ice cream cones have come a long way, but are still limited to a few choices. Provide gourmet cones for ice cream parlors that are too busy to create their own.
Differentiate your cones by providing unusual flavor profiles, colors and shapes. This a business you can easily start at home and scale as needed to supply local ice cream parlors.
Noodle houses are popping up all over the place, and not all of them make their own noodles in house. Make fresh noodles you can sell to these restaurants. Be creative. Offer a range of noodles with different ingredients such as buckwheat and gluten-free alternatives.
Almost everyone has a sweet tooth, which is why candy manufacturing is a multibillion-dollar industry. But connoisseurs of sweets want something better than mass-manufactured fare.
Create gourmet candies to sell online, at local high-end restaurants and bakeries, as well as at food fairs. This is a business you can begin at home with low startup costs, and grow.
If you want a really good sauce you have to make it. If you have made your own sauce in the past, you know it is a time-consuming process.
Making sauces is a great business to run in your own kitchen provided you get the proper regulatory certifications. If you turn out quality sauces, it won’t be long before word of mouth gets your brand recognized.
Just like sauces, a great marinade can take your recipes to another level. Options for marinades are many: for beef, chicken, fish, lamb and vegetables.
If you know what you are doing in the kitchen and you are creative, you can create marinades that have buyers coming back over and over.
The protein bar industry is slated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4% until 20204. While this is great news for the industry, not all protein bars are created equal.
The biggest challenge is the taste, and if you can overcome this obstacle you can grab a foothold in a growth industry. Take your time and experiment in your home until you find the right recipe and go for it.
Local Restaurant Guide
Love food? This is a great way to keep tabs on what is going on in your city. As local restaurant guide, you can bring customers and restaurateurs together.
This is especially a great business opportunity if you live in a big city with many restaurants. You can make money from customers and restaurants. And if all goes well you can expand to other cities around you or create tours in other countries known for their cuisine.
Doughnuts are readily available in every city. However, the growth of the gourmet doughnuts segment is showing people are willing to pay more for exceptionally great doughnuts.
Everything from bacon to cereal, mangoes, jalapeños and more have been used. If you can create truly unique doughnuts, there is a market for you out there.
There are many romantic special occasions, and if you can plan the food side of said occasions you can have a good business.
This is a great part-time business. Whether you are a professional cook, an enthusiastic amateur or just starting out, this is a great way to get into the food industry. It is also a sold way to build a customer base for any future food-related business.
Vending machines run the gamut. You can put everything from candies to sodas, fruits, sandwiches, soups, nuts, and much more.
If you find the right location and differentiate your machines with quality sandwiches, soups and other items, you will have a great business. The key to this business is location, but once you have that you can grow fast.
A gluten allergy, wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity or celiac disease can leave people feeling miserable. For these individuals, even those with a mild form of the allergy, finding gluten-free foods is essential but not always possible.
Creating a business catering to those who have a gluten allergy or those who choose to avoid gluten entirely is becoming a viable business model.
Asian Grocery Retail
Owning your own Asian grocery store will help you offer traditional and authentic Asian products that big chains don’t. Your bottom line will be affected by your location and what you plan to sell.
Your products can be diverse and can include canned goods, sauces, produce, spices, and meats. A knowledge of Asian dishes can help you understand what is in demand. An Asian grocery can be rewarding as a convenient way to explore new cultures and hone your entrepreneur skills.
Baby Food Business
The global baby food market is enticing, as it is set to reach $76.48 billion by 2021. In addition, parents are looking for consumables made with natural recipes free of preservatives, sugars, salt, fillers and artificial colors.
Experiment with producing your own baby food through a combination of steaming, roasting and pureeing. Before launching your product, test your recipes on family and friends with children to get feedback.
Bagel Shop Business
Made famous in New York as a classic breakfast food, bagel shops are now available almost everywhere. Despite its potential to earn you a tidy sum, bagel shops are a lot of work.
You will need to churn out fresh bagels every day. But the rewards are plenty if you succeed in building a good customer base. Plus, you can sell beverages and side dishes to increase your revenue.
BBQ Catering Service
The simplicity and popularity of a casual BBQ is a great idea for a business.
Whether social functions or corporate events, BBQ parties are great. However, anyone holding a large function knows that the planning, ordering, preparing, and cooking for guests can be complicated.
This where a barbecue catering service comes in — bringing convenience. The one drawback is huge competition, so your BBQ has to be great.
Biscuit making, or cookie making, can be a fulfilling business that comes with little startup capital. Despite mass-produced items for sale, many consumers prefer fresh cookies from a local bakery.
This business has huge potential as biscuits or cookies are consumed daily in many homes. Key to your success is packaging, flavors and of course health-conscious ingredients.
Candy and sweets are high margin products — meaning higher returns from sales. Most everybody loves candy and treats, and a candy store not only brings smiles but profits as well. America’s candy manufacturing industry generates $20 billion annually, leaving room for more.
From the odd indulgence to the holidays, we all go to the candy shop for our sweet cravings. The benefit of opening a candy store is you have almost unlimited options when it comes to inventory.
By buying in bulk for high sought-after brands and sweets you stand to do well in retail. If you don’t want a physical store, open an online store with a theme.
There are lots of businesses looking for expertise to run their canteens or lunchroom operations. Many companies prefer to leave non-core functions like canteen management to experts.
This business requires expertise across a range of fields and skills. From following up on inventories to helping host events, canteen management can be fun.
Cat Cafe Business
Cat cafes have been popular in Asia since the 1990s. The first Cat café was opened in Taipei, Taiwan and has now spread across the world. Cat cafe businesses offer people a place to relax with friends and cats while enjoying a warm beverage and pastries.
Some cat cafés serve food and drinks while others are just relaxation spaces to unwind with a cat. Cafes serve human customers and make their cats available for adoption. If you love cats and cafes, this might be a fun small business idea for you.
Check to make sure the regulations in your area allow pets with food service.
Catering can be a profitable business provided you know your meals and have a knack for pleasing people. With a moderate startup capital investment, you can start your business at home by catering to friends and family.
However, it requires a solid understanding of every detail related to this business. One of the biggest reasons caterers fail is because they can’t manage everything. As an owner, you have to know everything.
If you are a great cook who knows how to whip up a delicious cheesecake, why not launch a business? Start making money quickly by selling them to friends and neighbors.
Fairs and festivals can boost your sales as well as reputation. Quality is of the utmost importance. If you have a great product it will evolve to word-of-mouth advertising and bring you more clients.
Cheese Shop Business
Turning your passion for artisan cheese into a successful business will require careful planning. The key to your success will greatly depend on your ability to source your products and the variety of cheeses you can offer your clients.
Begin small by offering a casual setting where purchasers come and enjoy the different cheeses. But rest assured, you will grow quickly if you stock quality cheeses from around the world.
If you love making chocolate treats and crafting candy, a chocolate shop/business might be for you. Sourcing is especially important for raw chocolate. But with the right chocolate, you can start making a wide range of treats.
With the average American eating an estimated 22 pounds of chocolate every year, let’s face it, it’s the nation’s guilty pleasure. You can sell your chocolates in retail, wholesale or events. If you’ve been sitting on a family recipe that always has people begging for more, why not pull it out and make it profitable?
Coffee Roasting Business
Fresh coffee roasters have a distinct advantage. The value lies with the fresh factor. The advent of designer coffee shops demonstrates the need of consumers looking for ever-more- creative brews and flavorful coffees.
With the right equipment, mad roasting skills and an appealing shop you can brew your way to success. What is more, you can provide your services to other coffee shops.
Let’s face it, coffee is what really drives our economy. Can you imagine your office without coffee? From boosting productivity in the workforce to promoting a relaxed environment as well as the health benefits, coffee is truly king.
More than two-thirds of Americans, or 200 million of the population, consume coffee every day making this a great potential business. But there is much competition. So you must find a way to differentiate yourself. Do that and you are guaranteed to have customers.
Cupcake shops are considered recession-proof. The lure for patrons is that cupcakes have a small price tag, and they are the ultimate feel-good purchase that won’t break the bank.
Benefits include low startup costs, simple business model, the ability to create one’s work schedule and the business can be run from home.
Since the 1800s delicatessens, better known as delis, were brought to the U.S. by German Jews. Operating a deli can be both fun and profitable.
You can open many different types of delis. The key is to identify demand in your area and provide what residents there prefer to eat. Your product line is unlimited — soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees — dine-in and takeout too.
Diners are a staple in the American restaurant industry. Whether it is a classic diner or a new building, they are a solid business provided you have great and cheap food.
Your service differentiation can fall on a variety of factors. These could include speed, quality of service, price, theme and menu items. Good customer service and experience in the food industry can be an asset.
Let’s face it who doesn’t like to sit at a play or a musical and enjoy some fine grub? Having a keen sense of entertainment and identifying good food goes a long way here.
With a dinner theater, you have three business units to manage: the restaurant, the act and the bar. Dinner Theatre can be popular among tourists, couples on a date night or anybody who wants to squeeze in some entertainment while having a meal.
Edible Cookie Dough Cafe
An edible cookie dough cafe serves cookie dough, usually without eggs and other pathogen-carrying ingredients. The doughs are either served in cartons or on cones similar to ice cream.
The concept of edible cookie dough cafes came from customers’ desire to relive their childhood memories. Eating cookie dough off the beaters or licking the bowl and spatula clean brings them to a special place.
A farmers’ market is a great way to connect producers of local farms with a health-conscious public. As a business, you need to attract sellers to set up stalls and meet customers in a convenient location.
Customers include individual consumers as well as eateries looking for the freshest produce for their menus. Starting a farmers’ market is a great way to further other opportunities in the restaurant industry.
The competitive advantage a fast-food business has is its ability to provide affordable food to customers in as little time as possible. Fast food establishments come in all shapes and sizes from drive-throughs to traditional sit-down meals.
If you have a flair for providing excellent dining and catering to an upscale clientele, fine dining might just be right for you.
There are plenty of customers who are willing to splurge a little more for the optimal experience. Top-shelf wine, fine cutlery exceptional service are the hallmarks of fine dining.
Frozen Yogurt Business
A frozen yogurt business is all about offering variety to your customers. You can offer anything from smoothies to parfaits with an infinite amount of toppings and flavor combinations. You can add to your business model by offering specialty drinks.
The key to success is how well you craft a specialty recipe along with your production methods.
Honey processing entails removing wax and other foreign unwanted particles from honey. There are lots of cost-effective machinery available to help your processing.
Starting a honey business will require you to properly plan and prepare before starting operation. You not only produce honey but also byproducts such as beeswax and propolis. Propolis is widely used in food and cosmetic products such as lip balms, toothpaste, lotions, shampoos, cosmetics, and ointments.
Jam and Jelly Making
Jam jelly-making business is a profitable enterprise as they are the staple of most breakfasts. The business allows you to experiment with different flavors from fruits to make a wide variety of jam and jelly.
The key to success here is getting noticed. Offer samples to local networking meetings, grocery stores, and mixers to get your name out. Creating unique flavors is the key to differentiate yourself.
As a nutritionist, you can help your clients lead a healthy lifestyle. By assessing the nutritional needs of your clients’ you can determine the types of food and beverages they should eat to stay healthy.
A nutrition business requires degrees and certifications. But once you have them, you can work for yourself or companies in the healthcare segment by providing your services.
Cooking Competition Organizer or Cooking Reality Show
Who doesn’t like a cooking completion, especially an organic one? With more and more households being conscious of what they eat, organizing an organic cookout can be great.
By hosting these competitions, you not only get hard cash from sponsorship but also help communities be healthier. You can raise your game from community competitions to city and statewide events.
Pasta Making Business
Although Italian pasta is the most well-known, your pasta businesses can specialize in different types of noodles. Your target customer for a pasta business can be foodies or owners of eateries who don’t want to make their own pasta.
Fresh pasta commands a higher price than dry pasta. Inventory management is key to ensure you always have fresh pasta and your supply doesn’t go to waste.
Pickling is a process of preserving fruit or vegetable through fermentation. You can produce different types of pickles according to local retail demand.
The ease of storing pickles allows for low costs in storage. You can sell your pickles at farmers’ markets, roadside stands or a local grocery store.
Potato Chip Maker
With the ever-growing demand for convenience foods, potato chips are riding the wave. Fried potato chips are popular ready-to-eat snacks for those on the go.
Healthier alternatives are also cropping up. For example, in demand are chips that are not fried as well as those without artificial flavors or colors. With the right supplier, your profit margins can soar by making potato chips.
Processed Dairy Food Business
A processed dairy food company produces anything from cheese, yogurt, milk, and everything in between. The segment is a thriving and profitable industry.
Depending on your production capacity and delivery capabilities the business can be very lucrative. The key is finding good suppliers to process dairy.
A snack business is easy to set up and comes with low startup capital. By some estimates 94% of adults in the U.S. snack daily. This is because snacks are faster, easier and efficient ways of consuming food on the go.
Snack food producers can work towards building a profitable business as well as help provide the nutritional needs of busy consumers.
Sushi is one of the more popular foods in the U.S. This has resulted in more restaurants and individuals making sushi as part of their menu.
However, finding the right sushi rice, wasabi and other ingredients can be difficult. A well-stocked sushi supply store with original Japanese products is a good business idea.
As the U.S. Latino population continues to increase, tortillas will become even more popular. But tortillas are also becoming a staple in non-Latino households. If you have a passion for Latino food, and especially Mexican food, you may enjoy running a tortilleria.
Spice Powder Business
Spice grinding and packaging can be a profitable food processing businesses. Essentially you are providing solutions to your customer’s needs by saving them time and physical efforts from preparing spices. The demand for spices domestically and internationally is growing as it is a huge consumable household item.
The customer base includes everyone from individual consumers to restaurants, hotels and more.
Vinegar is a very popular and good preservative commodity. It is composed of water and acetic acid and acts both as a preservative and medicine. It is available in different flavors including apple cider, balsamic, cane beer, and palm beer. From households to restaurants vinegar is always in demand.
What is a good food business to start?
A good food business is one where (1) you have a passion for it, (2) there is market demand for it, and (3) sales exceed your expenses.
How do I start a small food business?
Start by identifying an idea that appeals to you. Research the market to see if there is demand. Develop a menu. Check regulations and obtain any required certifications. If starting a restaurant, kiosk or food truck, make sure to research and choose a good location. Or determine your distribution channels.
Which food business is most popular?
The top 5 most popular food businesses include: restaurant, food truck, bakery, coffee shop, and pet food.
What does it cost to start a food business?
Startup costs vary, depending on the type of business. Costs can range from under $500 to launch a business in your home, to well over $100,000 for opening a restaurant or buying into a franchise.
Related reading: 51 Business Ideas for 2020
More in: Develop an Idea