When looking to start a business, competition and market saturation are a big consideration. That’s one of the benefits of considering a food business: food always has and always will have incredible demand.
Of course, this isn’t the only reason to consider a food business. You’ll bring smiles to all your customers’ faces and bring in an income while doing something you love—just to name a few.
On your search, you’ll need to tackle the big question of which type of food business to start. That’s why we’re here. In this article, we’ll look at eight food business ideas to help you decide which one is the best fit for your interests, opportunities, and goals.
Food business ideas: 8 products and services you can sell
1. Food truck
If you don’t fancy being tied to a single location, then opening a food truck business is the option for you.
Food trucks are easier to move to different places than traditional restaurants, meaning you can cater to varying audiences and acquire more business. They also provide you with the same level of creative control that you’d get with a restaurant to develop your own unique menu. Want to create a smoky lobster salad with a tapa twist? Go ahead, no one’s stopping you.
Currently, growth in food trucks is outpacing that of traditional eateries, and it’s not hard to see why. Requiring a fraction of the overhead costs of opening a restaurant, food trucks are a relatively low-cost entry to the hospitality and food service industry.
2. Gourmet popcorn shop
A delicious and nostalgic treat, gourmet popcorn offers entrepreneurs a chance to build a sustainable income stream. According to Million Insights, the global popcorn market is expected to reach $6.24 billion by 2028, with key players in the market offering gourmet flavors such as cheesy, strawberry, caramel, and others.
You can open a gourmet popcorn shop online with an ecommerce solution such as Shopify. While it’s reasonable to offer a couple of flavors in the beginning, keeping your product line fun by adding exciting new flavors frequently is key to longevity in the gourmet snack business.
If you’re short on ideas about what flavors to add, get inspiration from Shopify stores such as Poppy.
Poppy is a handcrafted popcorn brand that keeps refreshing its product line with fun new flavors. It’s been featured in many popular magazines and websites, including Real Simple, Food & Wine, and Cooking with Paula Deen.
3. Cooking classes
If you’re skilled at vegetable cutting, make the best pad thai, or are a master baker, then you might want to consider offering cooking classes in your home or office space. Teaching others can be extremely rewarding, and there’s no shortage of options when it comes to how you approach it.
You could offer in-person classes or online courses. You might create video lessons and allow students to learn at their own pace, or do live weekend-only events for an online audience. It’s also possible to organize your classes by levels, such as general, advanced, and cooking prep classes.
According to Google, 59% of 25- to 34-year-olds leverage resources on the internet to find and practice new recipes. So there’s definitely a market of budding chefs looking for content you can deliver through your classes.
4. Coffee shop
Coffee isn’t just a crucial part of our morning routines—a cup of joe can warm up your insides on a cold day or help you get through an exhilarating workout. Consumers worldwide buy coffee in different forms, so it should come as no surprise that the industry is projected to make $155.64 billion by 2026.
This food business idea has a low barrier to entry. With plenty of dropshippers willing to supply coffee, your startup costs would mainly comprise the expense of building an online coffee store. Remember to focus on branding, as it’s key to setting your brand apart from other coffee businesses.
5. Meal kits
Meal kits are a type of food subscription service offering pre-portioned ingredients and simple recipe instructions for making chef-crafted meals at home. They’ve become increasingly popular in the last few years, but there’s still plenty of room for new brands and various niches that remain untapped. You can get inspiration from companies that have a unique focus in the meal kit delivery space, like Thai Direct.
Thai Direct is a New York–based meal kit provider dedicated to helping consumers prepare authentic Thai meals without the hassle of sourcing ingredients like fish sauce, palm sugar, coconut cream powder, etc. Ask yourself, “Can I do the same for my native cuisine?”
Meal kits can be sold on a subscription basis, wherein customers who sign up receive a new meal each week. Or you could create a collection of kits and sell them à la carte.
6. Baked goods
As one of the oldest types of food businesses, bakeries get a steady flow of visitors year round and enjoy regular sales. Baked goods come in several different varieties, opening many doors for your new brand. You could sell baked goods that cater to specific dietary needs, or specialize in something more specific, like cakes, muffins, pretzels, or bread.
Most bakeries operate in a brick-and-mortar setting, but you can sell baked goods online via Shopify. Don’t be afraid to branch out! Online bakeries enjoy a range of perks you won’t get with a physical bakery shop, such as lower cost when scaling and a large customer base.
7. Jam and jelly
If you like the idea of growing your own fresh produce, consider making jams and jellies to sell under a food brand. Consumers tend to view home-grown food as more nutritious, so you’ll have an advantage over commercial producers. At-home jarring machines are also relatively inexpensive, and growing your own ingredients adds a personal touch that will resonate with the audience.
For further ideas on how to brand your jam and jelly business, check out the positioning of other retailers offering the same items.
For instance, Beerenberg is an Australia-based retailer of jams, jellies, marmalades, and curds. On its website, Beerenberg invites customers to discover its extensive range of gourmet jams. Then, it highlights what makes its brand different:
For consumers looking to buy organic homemade jam, statements like “Crafted with love right here on our farm” and “Made lovingly by our family for yours” can make a lasting good impression. As a result, they’re more likely to buy and even refer the brand to others in their circle.
8. Baby food
Parents across the world are selective about what goes into their children’s tummies. Today’s parents want nutritious non-GMO baby foods that positively impact their emotional and physical wellbeing. Why not capitalize on this growing trend? You can make your own baby purees from homegrown fruits and vegetables (apple and sweet potato are well liked by most babies).
There’s also growth potential, as doctors recommend different types of foods for babies of different ages. This brings many opportunities for brands looking to expand or refresh their product line. From formula milk for newborns to solid food for toddlers, there are several niches you could target as a first-time food entrepreneur.
Your new food business awaits you
There you have it: plenty of food business ideas to get your gears turning.
As you look through all the options you have to choose from, consider where and how you’d like your business to run. The location and nature of your business will play a big role in your opportunities to win over the market and smash your business goals.
And as always, try not to overthink it. Take it step by step—and remember: it’s all a learning process. You’ll never know until you take the leap.
Food business ideas FAQ
Which food business is most profitable?
Any food business can be profitable, but if you’re looking for a low-risk, low-cost food business idea, take a look at dropshipping.
Dropshipping is a business model that allows you to sell food online while working with a third-party that produces, stores, and ships your products directly to your customers.
What food can I sell to make money?
You can make money selling any food, but it’s best to validate your product idea before you open a business. Try meeting directly with potential customers, doing taste tests, gathering feedback, and exploring the community around your product to see if it has potential.
What’s the bestselling food?
Many foods sell in high quantities, but the bestselling ones usually either cater to a specific dietary need (e.g., sugar-free cookies) or combine familiar favorites with an enticing novelty (pistachio ice cream).