Food Business Resources
Here you'll find some possible resources to help you with your food business. This list is just a tiny sampling of the options available; it's not meant to be comprehensive or to serve as personal endorsements. We'd love to build on it and add your endorsements, so if you have someone you want to recommend, let us know or add to the list in the comments below!
Here's a little glossary to help you navigate:
- Finding Co-packers and Commercial Kitchens
- Designers and Design Tools
- Food Business Blogs and Resources
- Nutrition and Testing
- Printing Labels and Supplies
- Creating a Website
We have a good summary of what you need to know in our barcodes for food labels article, so take a look there. Here are some other resources as well:
Barcode Generator - Create a barcode graphic if you already have your codes.
GS1 US - Buy barcodes with your own prefix.
Vanity Barcodes - Have fun with your barcodes by putting them in unique designs and styles.
Co-Packers and Commercial Kitchens
We have a short article on finding a food co-packer that guides you on the high level questions to ask yourself and things to look out for as well as a some resources, books, and consultants to lean on if you want some help.
You can try a matching service like PartnerSlate.
If you want to hire an expert, Right Brain Consulting specializes in finding and negotiating with co-packers for all sorts of food businesses - they've done it literally thousands of times. Working with an expert like that can save you weeks of searching not to mention lots of money on the actual contractual terms you get with your co-packer.
If you're producing your own product and need a shared commercial kitchen rental there are a few good directories that are updated for the most part: Culinary Incubator and The Kitchen Door. Googling "Commercial Kitchen" plus your general area is also a great idea!
Design For Packaging - Design and Branding Agencies/Consultants
If you're looking to hire someone to help you with your brand, logo, packaging, and label design, these guys are the pros. They've done it for major brands and this can really help your product stand out on the shelves. It may not be cheap, but eventually you may need it.
Britton Design - Focus on food and wine packaging and design.
Jenn David Design - Focus on gourmet food and specialty brands.
Jobin Design, Inc. - A boutique graphic design studio with a focus on packaging design and branding for specialty foods.
Miller Creative, LLC - Product branding especially for food, gourmet and health and beauty products.
Design and Packaging - Marketplaces and Quotes
If you're starting out and don't have design skills, you can get great results finding a freelancer on a design marketplace or design competition site. You can choose your budget, provide inspiration and product background, and find the best fit.
99 Designs - Create competitions for design projects. Reach designers around the world. Projects Include logos, branding, and package design.
Thumbtack - Get bids from professionals in many fields, including design.
Design and Packaging - From Manufacturers/Printers
Planet Canit, LLC - Specialize in recyclable & reusable metal packaging.
Design and Packaging - Tools and Software
If you're doing your own design and need the right software to do it, here are some options from the simple and free to professional grade.
Canva Design Software - Web-based, very easy to use design software that one of our customers is in love with because how easy it was to work with. It is free but has some paid features as well.
Inkscape - Free and open source full-featured vector graphics software. Comparable to Adobe Illustrator, but free. This is actually what we use for a lot of design work at ReciPal.
Illustrator - Illustrator is another vector graphics program and is the industry standard tool for design and illustration. Most designers will use Illlustrator. It costs roughly $20 per month.
Design and Packaging - Inspiration
Food Business Blogs, Guides, and Resources
Gredio - A fantastic food startup blog by a food startup! Advice on everything related to running a small food business from a personal, hands-on perspective. We tweet most of their articles because they're so good and thorough. They also have a great resource guide.
Small Food Biz - Blog posts, books, tools, and consulting services for small food businesses.
Marketing Food Online - YouTube channel with TONS of content from a successful food entrepreneur. Covers topics like starting a home food business, selling food online, food trucks, and just about everything else. All in video form!
Nutrition and Testing - Lab Services
ReciPal offers lab testing through our partner lab at discounted rates - it's a full service lab for nutrition, pathogen, allergen, and shelf-life testing. Just reach out with questions.
We also recommend reading our post on Shelf Life Testing for more information on that.
Nutrition and Testing - Software
ReciPal Nutrition Label Software - We couldn't help ourselves. It's the easiest and most affordable nutrition labeling software and our customers love it. You can also set up your ingredient lists in a snap, allergens, hire an expert if you need help, do product costing, and inventory management.
Nutrition and Testing - The Rules
ReciPal Blog - We have a ton of information on our blog, which you can search (on the right hand side), so feel free to take advantage of that. We try to simplify things much more than the FDA documentation, which can be tough to wade through.
FDA Food Labeling Guide - High level guide and Q&A for food labeling from the FDA.
USDA Foods Database - this is part of what we use at ReciPal.
Packaging - Baskets
Baskets, paper, and wood packaging.
Packaging - Flexible Packaging
We have a great 3 part series on figuring out your food packaging, so take a look there as well as these resources.
Flexible packaging includes foil and paper bags, stand-up pouches, flat pouches, coffee bags. This covers most of the snack packaging you see today.
Packaging - Glass, Plastic, Jars
This one is pretty self-explanatory :)
Bottle Solutions - Also offer printing and labeling services.
Packaging - Metal and Tin
This one is pretty self-explanatory too :)
Packaging - Paper and Cardboard
Boxes, containers, wrapping materials, bakery bags, tubes, basically anything made of paper or cardboard.
Plastic, Rigid and Molded
Plastic bottles, jars, cylinders, boxes - from growlers to supplements to nut jars. Anything plastic.
Packaging - Specialty
When it doesn't quite fit in another category.
Wilpack Packaging - Specialize in cup packaging (e.g. yogurt).
Packaging - Temperature Controlled
For when you have to keep your products cool en route or on the shelf.
Polar Tech Industries - Temperature safe shipping and transport packaging.
Providence Packaging - Insulated Shipping Containers, Reflective Foil Bubble and Foam (Pouches, Mailers, and Box Liners), Gel Ice Packs, Block Ice Packs, and Insulated Pallet Covers.
R.N.C. Industries, Inc. - Cold chain shipping and quality packaging.
Packaging - Wood
Dufeck Wood Products - Wood boxes (oval, square, rectangle), display crates, shelves and trays, and custom packaging.
Packaging Organizations and Associations
Printing Labels and Packaging
We have a good overview post highlighting the options for printing your food labels, whether it's on labels or directly on your packaging. It covers the best options when you're just getting started, growing, buying label printers, outsourcing printing, and all the joys of printing labels. For just the resources, see below.
Printing - Custom Label Printing
These companies usually will help walk you through the printing process and decide what's best as far as materials, help you design your label (or recommend a designer), and finally get very high quality labels printed for you. (Most larger packaging companies handle printing too.)
Printing - Do It Yourself Print Sites
Upload or design your label and they'll mail you the labels.
Printing - Printed Packaging
When you want to print directly on your packaging. The most professional option, but expensive for shorter runs.
Printers, Supplies, Tools
Creating a Website
Creating a basic website for your food business has never been easier. There are tons of free and cheap options that are easy to use with drag and drop interfaces and great-looking templates that are professional and effective. You just have to decide on the images and copy. Unless you need something very custom, we recommend using one of these rather than hiring a web designer or developer.
Shopify - one of the original and easiest e-commerce enabled websites.
SquareSpace - simple static websites as well as e-commerce.
Wix - similar to SquareSpace.
And that about wraps it up! Leave a comment or chat us in the bottom right corner if you have any personal recommendations or resources to share.