Starting a food business from home

December 14, 2023

Starting a home food business takes hard work and dedication, but there’s certainly a market for it. In recent years, the food industry has witnessed a significant shift towards home-based businesses. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend for home-based businesses in general, as shown by the 2023 research showing that 60% of new entrepreneurs started running a business during lockdown.

Since 2020, food delivery services have become more popular than ever, with home-based food businesses offering something a little different from the mainstream, along with a perception of extra love and care going into the cooking and preparation. If you have a passion for food, the desire for flexibility, or the dream of becoming your own boss, starting a food business from home can be hugely rewarding, if you can make it a success.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the essential steps for how to start a UK food business at home, from building your brand through to costs and marketing.

How to start a food business from home

Whether you’re a skilled baker, a culinary artist, or a master of preserving, everyone has to start from somewhere when setting up on their own. Before you start a food business from home, it’s good to know these crucial steps for founding your business, building a brand, and fulfilling your legal requirements.

Define your niche

Identify your speciality or niche. Are you passionate about baking, preserving, cooking, or making artisanal products like sauces or condiments? Your niche will determine your product range and target market. What will your unique selling point be, which will set you apart from other businesses?

If you’re wondering what food sells best from home, take a look at businesses in your local area that have been running for a while. Ask around and take opinion polls, starting with friends and family. After all, they’ll be most likely to support you and spread the word, particularly in the early days as you get off the ground. You can also think about what you enjoy and what you’re passionate about creating. Ideas that bore you aren’t likely to keep you going through long hours and quieter periods, when you need to keep your enthusiasm and commitment going.

Legal requirements

Here are the stipulations you’re expected to comply with by law when starting a food business from home in the UK:

 Food Hygiene and Safety:

    • Comply with food safety laws. Register with your local council, and make sure your food preparation area meets hygiene standards. Complete a Level 2 Food Hygiene course, if required. You don’t need a food hygiene rating to sell food at home, but the knowledge will be useful as you grow professionally.
  • Food Business Registration:
    • To sell food directly to consumers, you must register your business with the Food Standards Agency (FSA). If you plan to sell through a third-party retailer, such as a local store, the retailer must be registered.
  • Home Business Regulations:
    • Check with your local council regarding any zoning restrictions or licensing requirements related to starting a food business from home. Different areas may have varying regulations. In any case, you do need a licence to sell home-cooked food.


Consider business insurance to protect yourself and your customers in case of accidents or product-related issues. Public liability insurance and product liability insurance are common types to explore. You may also want to consider cover for your equipment and stock. Exploring a specialist catering insurance could be the best options to ensure you’re fully protected. 

Labelling and packaging

Your product labels should include other details like ingredients, use-by dates, and storage instructions. Consider sustainable and eco-friendly packaging options to reduce your environmental impact.

If your products contain any of the 14 allergens specified by the Food Standards Agency, food labelling regulations require you to clearly and accurately provide this information to customers.

The allergens are as follows:

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten (such as wheat, barley and oats)
  • Crustaceans (such as prawns, crabs and lobsters)
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lupin
  • Milk
  • Molluscs (such as mussels and oysters)
  • Mustard
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame
  • Soybeans
  • Sulphur dioxide and Sulphites (at a concentration of more than ten parts per million)
  • Tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and brazil nuts)

Start-up costs

The initial costs of launching a food business from home can vary significantly, depending on the scale and complexity of your operation. Here’s a breakdown of potential expenses.

Kitchen equipment

Invest in the necessary kitchen equipment, which may include ovens, cookware, utensils, food processors, refrigerators, freezers, and specialised tools related to your niche.

Ingredients and supplies

Purchase high-quality ingredients and supplies that will make a big difference to your food products, thereby helping your chances of success. Keep a detailed inventory to manage costs effectively.

Food safety and hygiene supplies

Maintaining a hygienic workspace is essential, so stock up on cleaning supplies, such as sanitisers, gloves, aprons, and containers for food storage.

Business registration and licensing

Budget for registration and licensing fees, which may vary depending on your location and the type of food business you’re running.

Marketing and branding

Allocate spend to developing a professional website, logo design, packaging materials, and any marketing campaigns. This investment is crucial for building your brand and attracting customers, so it can pay off, in the long run, to hire freelance support to fill any skills gaps you have.

Transportation and delivery

If your business involves delivering products to customers, you may need a reliable vehicle or courier service. Fuel, maintenance, and transportation costs should be considered.

Essential materials and tools

The materials and tools you require depend on the type of food business you’re starting. Here’s a list of some common items you may need:

 Cooking and baking equipment:

    • Oven
    • Hob
    • Cookware (pots, pans)
    • Baking pans and sheets
    • Mixing bowls
    • Measuring cups and spoons
    • Knives and cutting boards
    • Food processors or blenders
  • Refrigeration and Storage:
    • Refrigerator
    • Freezer
    • Food storage containers (airtight)
    • Shelving units
    • Labelling materials
  • Utensils and tools:
    • Whisks, spatulas, and ladles
    • Rolling pins
    • Thermometers (oven and food)
    • Pastry brushes
    • Scales
  • Packaging materials:
    • Food-safe packaging (jars, bags, boxes)
    • Labels and stickers
    • Sealing equipment (if applicable)
    • Eco-friendly packaging options
    • Cleaning supplies:
      • Sanitisers and disinfectants
      • Dish soap and brushes
      • Dish towels and cloths
      • Cleaning equipment (mop, broom)
      • Safety and hygiene:
        • Gloves
        • Aprons
        • Hairnets or hats
        • First-aid kit
  • Marketing and branding:
    • Professional website
    • Logo and branding materials
    • Business cards
    • Packaging design

Marketing and promotion

A well-planned marketing strategy is vital to the success of your home-based food business. It creates awareness, attracts customers, and establishes credibility in a crowded marketplace. You could have the best food product in the world, but if you aren’t promoting it effectively, chances are not many people will spend their hard-earned money on it. It’s all about communicating the unique value of your products, keeping them front of mind and building trust with the people you want to buy from you.

In the digital age, a well-executed marketing plan can be mastered pretty quickly, with plenty of tools and platforms at your disposal. Here are the most effective strategies to invest your time in.

A professional website

It’s worth spending money on a well-designed home for your business. However, that’s not to say you can’t do it yourself. If you have fairly basic design and web skills, you may just need to budget for a Squarespace subscription, for example. Your site will need to showcase your products well, provide contact information, and have functionality for online orders or enquiries. Populate it with high-quality photographs of your food and interesting articles. Link through to your social pages so that you can build a following and grow your community.

Social media presence

Leverage social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to create visually appealing and informative posts, featuring videos and photos of your products. Engage with your audience, respond to comments, and use relevant hashtags. Follow other food businesses for inspiration and to encourage support.

Local SEO

Optimise your website for local search by including location-specific keywords and phrases. Register your business on Google My Business to enhance local visibility, provide customers with relevant information such as opening hours and contact details, and showcase reviews.

Food delivery apps

If your business model allows for it, consider partnering with food delivery apps like UberEats or Deliveroo. Having a presence on these hugely popular platforms can significantly expand your reach and customer base.


Collaborate with local businesses, cafes, or markets to feature your products. Building partnerships can increase exposure and sales, introducing your products to new audiences while establishing you as part of the community. It also creates a sense of shared success which can be great for morale and makes customers want to be involved too.

Attend food fairs and events

Participate in local markets or food fairs to showcase your products and interact with potential customers. These events offer excellent networking opportunities.

Email marketing

Email marketing allows direct communication with customers. It’s a cost-effective way to drive sales, build loyalty, and reach a targeted audience interested in what you offer. Personalised emails in particular will strengthen customer relationships and make sure your brand is remembered, rather than getting lost among online noise. Build an email list and send regular newsletters with product updates, promotions, and relevant content. Personalise your messages and maintain a consistent schedule.

Customer reviews and testimonials

Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your website, social media pages, or on platforms like TripAdvisor. Positive reviews can boost your credibility and attract new customers, as people like to take recommendations and see social proof before they buy.

Packaging and branding

A strong brand identity conveys professionalism and builds trust, so invest in eye-catching branding materials like packaging, flyers, leaflets, menus and business cards. Well-designed packaging not only protects your products, it leaves a memorable impression on customers and has been proven to keep them coming back. This enhances product visibility, attracts customers, and fosters brand recognition in a competitive market.

Quality and consistency

Quality and consistency are the cornerstones of a successful business. They build trust, ensuring that customers receive reliable, superior products or services every time. Repeatedly delivering in this way will result in positive word-of-mouth recommendations, which can be your most powerful marketing tool. Give customers something to get excited about with your products and treat them with care too, to reinforce your brand’s reputation, foster loyalty, and encourage repeat business. It sets a standard of excellence that distinguishes your business in the marketplace, leading to long-term success.

Seasonal and themed promotions

Create special promotions or themed product ranges for seasonal occasions or events, catering to changing customer interests and occasions. Limited-time offers can generate a sense of excitement and urgency, driving sales and customer engagement by encouraging people to buy more quickly so that they don’t miss out.

Get catering insurance with Protectivity

Catering insurance for home food businesses is essential. It offers peace of mind and safeguards your business from unexpected financial liabilities, providing protection in case of accidents, foodborne illnesses, or product-related issues.

Protectivity’s speciality Catering Insurance offers Public Liability cover, designed to give you protection in the event of injury or property damage to a client or member of the public. There’s also Employers’ Liability for anyone looking after a team or employing subcontractors, which includes cover for illness or injury. You can opt for the Products Liability Insurance extension too, which protects you against claims over third-party products.

Get an instant quote to suit the needs of your business. If you’ve any questions, our team are on hand to help.

This blog has been created as general information and should not be taken as advice. Make sure you have the correct level of insurance for your requirements and always review policy documentation.