Selling food is probably one of the best ways to make money. The reason why is simple: everyone eats! In this article, you’ll find some of the best food business ideas. We start with the top 30 with pros and cons, and then finish out 70 more fantastic food business ideas. Let’s dig right in!
1. Hot Sauce Business
Did you know the hot sauces industry was worth $2.54 billion dollars in 2020? Not only that, it’s projected to reach $4.38 billion by 2028.
Pros: This is a highly lucrative industry.
Cons: The market is completely saturated. There are dozens of hot sauce brands on the market.
2. Franchise Restaurant
It’s still possible to do well with a fast-food restaurant. According to industry sources, a Mcdonald’s can make about $150,000 per year.
Pros: You’re backed up by the franchisor. Franchises are also easier than coming up with an idea for your own restaurant.
Cons: Opening a fast-food restaurant is expensive. It’s estimated that franchises like McDonald’s cost between $1-2 million.
3. Personal Chef
If you have a culinary degree, then why not work privately? You could also start an agency for personal chefs.
Pros: This is a great choice for chefs who hate working in restaurants. You should also earn more than you would in a restaurant.
Cons: The hours are long, and you’ll have to be available day and night.
4. Online Store
Practically any type of food can be sold online. You could also sell kitchen equipment. These eCommerce stores can make thousands of dollars, and the market for online food is only getting bigger.
Pros: This method has a steep learning curve. For example, you’ll need to learn how to build a website.
Cons: This is an easier way to sell food than running brick-and-mortar restaurants.
Love coffee? If the answer is yes, then this is a great way to earn money.
Pros: There are many ways to do this. You could open a coffee shop, food truck, coffee kiosk, or roast beans. Coffee delivery services are another option.
Cons: This industry is highly saturated. After all, Starbucks is everywhere.
6. Food Truck Business
The food truck industry is massive and continues to grow. Any event you attend will have one or more of these trucks.
Pros: These trucks sell expensive street food and have high-profit margins. Another benefit is that you don’t pay rent and need minimal employees.
Cons: In order to stand out, you have to sell good food that is high quality. It also helps to sell a unique type of food that cannot be found elsewhere.
7. Catering Business
This is the most common type of food business. It’s a good fit for people who can quickly cook large amounts of food.
Pros: This type of business is relatively easy. All you have to do is cook and deliver food.
Cons: The hard part is finding clients. You’ll also need business skills to pull this off.
8. Homemade Food
Who doesn’t love a home-cooked meal? Cooking and delivering meals is a great way to earn extra income from your home kitchen.
Pros: This is a great side hustle for people with a busy schedule or those who only want to work part-time.
Cons: Home cooks who work alone may find themselves overwhelmed.
9. Bakery Business
Can you bake? Put those skills to use and make money. There are many options here. You can make everything from bread to wedding cakes, pastries, cookies, pies, and tarts.
Pros: This is a lucrative business if done right. Even a small cake shop can do well.
Cons: There’s a lot more to this business than baking. For example, you’ll need to come up with a viable business plan.
10. Vending Machines
This industry is valued at $36.5 billion a year. If you can find a good location, you’ll make thousands per week.
Pros: There’s very little work involved. All you have to do is stock and service your machines.
Cons: Success depends on your location. The most valuable areas may already have machines. You’ll also need an initial investment to get started.
11. Cooking Classes
Many people want to learn how to cook. They may also want to learn specific skills, such as cooking French food. This is a great way to monetize your cooking skills.
Pros: The biggest advantage is that you can now hold online cooking classes.
Cons: You’ll need to set up the classes and deal with people (as well as have teaching skills.)
12. Mobile Bar
A mobile bar can be hired out for special events like weddings and parties. If you’re a people person, then this is a great job.
Pros: You could earn tips if you’re bartending. This business only requires 1-2 employees.
Cons: This involves more than simply pouring drinks. For example, you’ll need to know how to make cocktails. You’ll also need special licenses and permits.
If you can brew beer, then this is the perfect business. You can also distill spirits.
Pros: Craft beer is more popular than ever. In fact, in the United States, this is a $41 billion industry.
Cons: You’ll be competing against the hundreds of craft beer brands that already exist. Even a small-scale brewing operation requires expensive equipment.
14. Meal Plans
People who want to lose weight or build muscle will pay for custom meal plans. Personal trainers and dieticians can make a great income writing these plans.
Pros: The weight loss and fitness industries are huge, meaning there’s a great deal of potential work.
Cons: To pull this off, you’ll need to be a qualified dietician or personal trainer.
15. Olive Oil
Olive oil is an ingredient in many dishes and is also used for cooking. One way to make money in this business is by opening up a specialty store. You could also start an olive farm or bottle this oil.
Pros: This is a massive industry worth billions of dollars.
Cons: You’ll have to deal with the usual business challenges like finding seed capital.
16. Sell Water
You can open up a store that sells filtered water or filtration equipment. The next step is to bottle and sell this water. You could also bottle spring water.
Pros: Selling water is a simple and straightforward business. Water is also a high-demand product.
Cons: Filtered water is a niche business, and you may have trouble building a customer base.
17. Catering Equipment
The catering industry needs equipment. It’s possible to buy this equipment and rent it out to catering companies.
Pros: This is a great business opportunity for entrepreneurs. Once you’ve bought the equipment, all the money you make is profit.
Cons: You’ll be competing against established catering equipment companies.
18. Food Photography
Taking pictures of food is an art and skill. The skill is in high demand, making this a great job for photographers.
Pros: There are thousands of food companies who all need this service, meaning you’ll rarely be out of work.
Cons: You’ll have to learn the special tricks needed to take great food pictures.
19. Baby Food
Custom baby food companies are popping up everywhere. For example, you can now buy “plant-based” baby food.
Pros: Parents who have extra disposable income are generally pretty happy and willing to spend money on their kids, making this a lucrative business.
Cons: Doing this can be risky because you’re selling food to kids. This means you’ll have to pay special attention to things like food safety and allergies.
20. Make Pet Food
There is a growing market for high-quality pet food. In addition to food, you can also make treat items.
Pros: Pet lovers are willing to spend enormous amounts of money on their animals.
Cons: Like baby food, this is also a risky business. You don’t want pets getting ill.
21. Wine Business
There are dozens of ways to start a wine business. Besides selling wine, you can hold wine tasting events and tours or even make your own wine. You could also write a guide to local wines or sell wine online.
Pros: Wine is expensive, which means it has a high-profit margin.
Cons: Making your own wine is a long and difficult process. You’ll have to deal with competition from established vineyards and invest enormous amounts of money.
22. Organic Food
One way to do this is by opening up an organic food shop. You can also buy produce from local farmers and sell it at farmers’ markets.
Pros: There is a huge demand for fresh foods, and this industry continues to grow.
Cons: You’ll have to find a source of quality organic food.
23. Ice Cream Shop
If you’re looking for a simple idea, then an ice cream store is the way to go. You can also sell other products like milkshakes, gelato, or ice cream cakes.
Pros: An ice cream parlor can be highly lucrative, provided you find a good location.
Cons: Ice cream is only popular in the summertime, and you may have difficulty making money in cooler months.
24. Food Blog
If you have a passion for food, then this is a great option. You could also start a YouTube channel or a food service website like an online restaurant guide or directory.
Pros: With this idea, you don’t have to buy or sell food. You just have to write about it. What’s more, you don’t have to spend money opening a store or restaurant.
Cons: You’ll have to learn how to build a blog and promote it.
25. Asian Food Shop
Many cities have large Asian populations, as well as dozens of Asian restaurants. It’s possible to set up a retail shop which supplies these people with Asian food.
Pros: This is a niche business, meaning there may be little competition.
Cons: If you’re not Asian, this can be a difficult business to get into.
26. Specialty Milk
Did you know there is a growing market for dairy alternatives? This includes things such as soy, almond, oat, rice, and coconut milk.
Pros: Certain types of milk, like almond and oat milk, can be easily made at home.
Cons: Making these products is a lot of work. You may also have trouble selling your products.
Bars and restaurants use massive amounts of ice. You can also supply ice to your local retail store or people in your neighborhood.
Pros: This is a simple business to start. All you need is an ice machine.
Cons: Most bars and restaurants will already have an ice supplier.
28. Pizza Box Advertising
With this idea, you approach business owners and offer to supply them with free pizza boxes. You then make money by selling ad space on those boxes.
Pros: If you’re successful, this is an easy way to make a living.
Cons: You have to earn more money on ads than you spend on boxes, and this isn’t always possible.
29. Subscription Box Business
Subscription boxes cover a wide variety of niches. You could start a subscription box business devoted to hot sauces, jam, wine, or even candy.
Pros: This industry is booming. In fact, it’s estimated that there are more than 400 of these companies in the US alone. Not only that, this industry is estimated to be worth $18.8 billion.
Cons: Running one of these businesses is tough. As well as growing your subscriber base, you have to find companies who will provide you with products.
30. Urban Farming
Urban farming is the practice of farming within urban areas. For example, on vacant lots and other disused lands, rooftop farming is also another option.
Pros: Small businesses and restaurants love buying locally produced produce. The closer, the better.
Cons: Farming is hard work. You’ll also need money to buy land and equipment.
70 More Great Food Business Ideas
31. Special Diets: Many people follow a specific diet. For example, you can provide food for people on diet plans or for those with allergies.
32. Raw Materials: All restaurants need things like meat, vegetables, and dairy. If you can supply these things at a good price, restaurants will be happy to do business with you.
33. Deliver Food: If you have transport, then why not use it to deliver food? Online platforms like Door Dash mean you don’t even have to set up your own business.
34. Spices: If you understand how to process and blend spices, this can be a great business. The key to success is creating one-of-a-kind custom blends.
35. Fish Farm: With ocean stocks dwindling, restaurants are increasingly relying on fish farms. This is a great business to start if you’re located inland.
36. Gourmet Popcorn: Gourmet popcorn is when you add colorings and different flavors to ordinary popcorn. What’s nice about this business is that it doesn’t require any special skills. Just note that popcorn is a cheap product, and your profit margin may be small.
37. Herbs: Can you grow herbs? Restaurants and grocery stores will pay for your products. A big advantage of this business is that growing herbs takes very little space.
38. Energy Drinks: Energy drinks are more popular than ever. In fact, this industry is now worth $14 billion. This means successful energy drinks can make millions of dollars.
39. Local Restaurant Guides: Visitors to your city may be looking for a good restaurant. You can help them by creating a local guide.
40. Homecare Cooking: Elderly and disabled people may need nutritional support or specially cooked meals. Throw home delivery into the mix, and you could have a thriving business.
41. Meal Kits: A lot of people do not have time to cook or shop. You can serve this market by selling meal kits.
42. Make Sauces: You don’t necessarily have to make hot sauces. In fact, there are dozens of other sauces which sell equally as well (i.e., BBQ sauce or ranch dressing).
43. Make Jam: People love buying natural, homemade jam. This is also a great idea if you have fruit trees in your back garden.
44. Food Kiosks: You can set up a food kiosk in your local mall. An alternative to this is building a mobile kiosk which you take to events.
45. Mushroom Farm: Restaurants and grocery stores will always need mushrooms. What’s nice is that mushrooms grow quickly, meaning you’ll have a quick turnaround and steady income.
46. Canning: You can make money by placing food into cans for people. There are also other food processing ideas, such as packaging food or placing it in bottles.
47. Pizza Delivery: Did you know that some pizza places only do delivery? This is an interesting business model which you may want to explore.
48. Tea: Specialty teas are big business, especially on the internet. You could even buy a tea packing machine and make your own teabags.
49. Deliver Groceries: Online platforms like Amazon Fresh or Instacart make this an easy way to earn money.
50. Chocolate: People love homemade, artisanal chocolate. In fact, this is a product that almost sells itself. It’s also a business you can start in your kitchen with very little money.
51. Liquor Store: You can make enormous amounts of money selling alcohol. Just note that running a liquor store can be unpleasant or even dangerous.
52. Tomato Paste: Italian restaurants and pizzerias use huge quantities of tomato paste or pizza sauce. You can earn money supplying it to them.
53. Grocery Store: If nothing else on this list appeals to you, why not open up a small grocery store? If you find the right location, these types of food businesses can be rewarding.
54. Restaurant Marketing: People in the restaurant business need to promote themselves, especially when business is bad. You can help these restaurant owners by marketing their small businesses.
55. Frozen Yogurt Franchise: Frozen yogurt is a dessert that is similar to ice cream. This market is worth $654 million, and there are now dozens of frozen yogurt franchises.
56. Fine Dining: Fine dining refers to five-star restaurants which serve the very best food. If you want to become highly successful in the food industry, then this is the way to go.
57. Make Snacks: Selling popular snacks is an easy way to make money with food. For example, many snacks (such as fudge) can be made at home and sold in local stores.
58. Design Restaurants: If you have design, interior decorating, or shopfitting skills, this could be a great career. You could also supply furniture to restaurants.
59. Food Events: Trade shows, tasting events, and food festivals are highly popular. This is an excellent way for food entrepreneurs to get started in this industry.
60. Cook Books: Are you someone with access to unique and amazing recipes? Share them with the world by writing a cookbook.
61. Create Menus: Many restaurant owners are looking for people to create their menu or improve it. This usually means making the menu more efficient or eliminating menu items that do not sell.
62. Restaurants Apps: If you have programming skills, then put them to work designing restaurant apps. With a high-quality app, you could potentially make millions of dollars.
63. Gift Baskets: Gift baskets have regained popularity in recent years. This is mostly because of online stores. If you have creative skills, then this could be a good business.
64. Hot Dog Cart: This can be a great way for small food entrepreneurs to get started. Just note you’ll need licenses and permits to operate one of these carts. Your success will also depend on where you place the cart.
65. Invent Kitchen Tools: Do you have an idea for a unique kitchen tool or gadget? These tools sell by the thousands, and with the right idea, you could be set for life.
66. Make Cookies: Cookies will never go out of style, making this an easy way to earn a side income. You can also run this type of business from home.
67. Precut Vegetables: Some restaurants will pay you to cut their vegetables or do other preparation jobs. You could also freeze and sell your precut vegetables.
68. Make Pasta: The pasta manufacturing process requires special equipment and is extremely time-consuming. This is why many Italian restaurants outsource the job.
69. Juice Bar: There’s a huge market for freshly squeezed juices. In fact, most large cities have dozens of these bars.
70. Ghost Kitchen: A ghost kitchen is essentially a delivery-only restaurant. These restaurants do not have a storefront or seating area for customers. This has many advantages, like not having to employ waiters.
71. Bake Bread: Can you bake artisanal or specialty bread? Coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants are more than happy to buy these products.
72. Honey: You can set up beehives in a small space like your backyard or a rooftop. The honey you make can be sold online or at markets, and this can quickly become a profitable business.
73. Frozen French Fries: Most restaurants serve their food with fries. With a small investment, you can purchase fry equipment and supply these restaurants.
74. Drive Through: People love the convenience of a drive-through. The trick is to sell something unique. For example, drive-through coffee shops do extremely well, but that is no longer unique. Think of something in high demand that would be easy to provide in a drive-through and that currently doesn’t exist, or doesn’t yet exist in many locations but you can see is growing very quickly.
75. Make Ice Cream Cones: Ice cream shops need cones. If you’re going to do this, try to make cones that are unique or different.
76. Process Nuts: Nuts need to be shelled, roasted and packaged. With a low investment, it’s possible to set up a business that does this. You could also open up a store which sells these nuts.
77. Vegan Food: There are many options here. You could open up a vegan restaurant or grocery store, deliver healthy meals, or hold vegan cooking classes.
78. Gluten Free: The gluten-free craze still hasn’t died down. It’s possible to start a business supplying food to people on these diets.
79. Chicken Coop: You can build a chicken coop in your backyard and earn an income selling eggs. Selling chicks is another way to make money. You could also build custom chicken coops for people.
80. International Grocery Store: Many countries have large immigrant, temporary worker, or expat populations. These people may be looking for food items from their countries. Locals may also be interested in trying international food and brands.
81. Beef Jerky: Beef jerky can be easily made at home. This can then be sold online or to grocery stores. This is a good business for hunters.
82. Frozen Food Store: Did you know that some grocery stores only sell frozen foods? A good example of this is a UK store called Iceland.
83. Make Nut Butter: There are many alternatives to peanut butter. Some of these include almond, cashew, or hazelnut butter. You can also start a business selling sugar-free butter.
84. Protein Bars: Fitness enthusiasts go through hundreds of protein bars per year. The great thing is that these bars can be easily made at home.
85. Cake Decorating Classes: Are you good at decorating cakes or cupcakes? People will pay to learn this skill. Holding online classes is one way to teach people this skill.
86. Restaurant Consulting: If you have experience in the restaurant industry, then it’s more than possible to become a consultant. Struggling restaurants would love to benefit from your help and advice.
87. Food Tourism: Are you an expert when it comes to the local food scene? You can show tourists what your city has to offer.
88. Icee and Syrup Drinks: Slush Puppie or Icee-style drinks are easy to make and only have two ingredients: ice and syrup. This business is probably the best option for people with small amounts of capital.
89. Kombucha: Kombucha is a type of fermented green tea, originating in China. This drink is becoming more and more popular in the West. According to market research, this industry is worth $1.36 billion.
90. Soft Drinks: Making soft drinks is easier than you think. While you’re unlikely to become the next Coca-Cola, it is possible to build a successful business selling sodas.
91. Energy Drinks: Along with making soda, you could also make energy drinks. The market for these drinks is huge, and there is always room for more.
92. Home-based Restaurant: Want to set up a restaurant but don’t have the money? One solution is to turn your dining room into a restaurant. You could even do this in your backyard.
93. Puff Pastry: Puff pastry is used in dozens of baked goods such as croissants. It’s easy to make at home and can be sold to local bakeries.
94. Bubble Tea Franchise: Bubble tea is a mixture of flavored tea and tapioca beads. This drink is hugely popular worldwide and is now a $2.3 billion industry in the US alone.
95. Cupcakes: This is one of the easiest at home food business ideas. All you have to do is bake cupcakes in your kitchen, then sell them on social media or places like the Facebook Marketplace.
96. Make Cheese: You’ve probably noticed that cheese is extremely expensive. It’s possible to take advantage of this by producing homemade artisanal cheeses.
97. Fruit Preserves: Fruit preserves are a popular condiment and spread. They’re easy to make and can be sold at local markets or online.
98. Party Trays: This is a similar idea to catering. The difference is that you make finger foods, specifically intended to be served at parties or during special occasions.
99. Health Store: Health food is a billion-dollar industry (just look at major players like Whole Foods.) If you’re passionate about healthy food, then this could be a viable option.
100. Eating Competition: This is less of a business idea and more of a way to promote your food products. An eating competition will attract crowds and potential customers.
This list of small business ideas gives you a place to start when building your own food business. Also, look at what’s happening in your town or city. Think: What types of businesses are doing well, and where is there a gap in the market? The answer is where you come in to fill that gap!
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