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  • #969144
    Luth6322
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    Hi There

    My partner and I are looking at starting a small business, associated with our farm which is only a hobby at the moment. We are both very passionate on sustainability, low food miles and sticking with local products, and ensuring all livestock have a great life even if there just going to end up on the table.

    I’m thinking the business will be developed in three phases, based on what we know and the skills we need to develop first.
    – jams, preserves and spreads
    – market garden (vegetables and fruits)
    – market products, firstly lamb and then possibly other livestock if all works out well.

    Initially to get the first phase up and running, I was hoping to do most of the preparation from my home kitchen. However, I’m a little over whelmed by all the legislation regarding food preparation, labelling and the like. Will it be ok to start out at home? I really don’t want to look for another premise at this early stage, as initially we will be testing the market to make sure there is a demand for our types of products.

    Does anyone have an experience in the food industry and has worked from home initially. Suggestions on professionals might be able to contact that have such experience would also be welcome.

    Thanks advice is much appreciated.

    Carrie

    #1037108
    tom125
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    If you’re in NSW the Food Authority website has lots of useful information.

    Their website is http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au and this factsheet might be useful for you:
    http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/industry_pdf/Home-based+and+mixed+food+business.pdf

    All food businesses in NSW need to be “notified” to the authority.

    #1037109
    createdevelop
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    I really don’t want to look for another premise at this early stage, as initially we will be testing the market to make sure there is a demand for our types of products.

    Why not find someone who already does picking, packing and production and partner with them. I am sure there are plenty of companies out there that are in food manufacturing that have excess production capacity. They may charge you a piece rate and then you can handle everything else.

    #1037110
    BlueVelvet
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    CreativeDevelop has made a great suggestion and it’s certainly something worth looking into.

    You can’t afford to be overwhelmed by rules. Starting a food business at home with domestic facilities is largely not okay and is fraught with headaches (ie if someone gets food poisoning from your product). It is one of the most difficult businesses to get up and running in this day and age. There are several standards your food must achieve before it is allowed to be sold in a commercial setting and, to that end, this cannot be done from a domestic kitchen. The same applies to other products from a non commercial farm – milk and meat, for example, must be processed to a standard costing $$$$. These standards are governed by legislation. Then you have the compulsory quality assurance standards…I’m not even going to go there. But if you’re dairy or sheep farmers, you’ll already be aware of this.

    I don’t mean to be a party pooper. I went through all this setting up my business! :)

    Some people circumvent all of the above by selling at market but I’ve also witnessed inspections by govt. bodies at various markets and these people are hit heavily. To my mind (and wallet) it’s just not worth the risk.

    Before you even think of setting up a premises, you really need to research the ground rules first and work your way from there via a business plan.

    Good luck.

    PS. I am a food professional with experience in industry and was prevented from starting my business at home due to legislative restraints which I’ve referred to above. I took on a lawyer and accountant to assist me with set up to ensure that I adhered to all specified guidelines. These days you can’t even make soap at home. You have to register with NICNAS and they have to approve you. Annoying but true.

    #1037111
    Luth6322
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    Thanks so much for your response BlueVelvet it’s very much appreciated. At this stage its still very much research mode looking into things. I’ve now looked at several products sold in farmers market stores and very few of them even meet the labelling rules I’ve read about let along the safety requirements for the food that there selling.

    Its a little frustrating because I see so many people at markets at the moment selling similar products that I want to with not even an ingredients listing on there product. I can’t see how they are doing it other than from their home kitchen.

    I’ve purchased the Food Safety book available from CSIRO, so will start getting into that reading tonight. As I mentioned this is all very new, and I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing before going ahead with the business.

    Although I’m an accountant, we are meeting another accountant next week to bonus some thoughts off regarding structure, and will also be looking at lawyer that has experience within the food industry that can help these laws and possible trademarks as well.

    Once again thanks again for your response, at least I now know that there is some rule around making food at home, its just those people at the markets are likely doing the wrong thing.

    #1037112
    Cook Learn Love
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    Hi Carrie.

    As another food professional, I would advise on a very careful approach to what you plan to do. I was wondering if there was any other kind of revenue that you hope to achieve through your farm besides the selling of produce? You might teach other people how to live sustainable lifestyles for instance…What if you were to set up a regular food-swap meet, where no money exchanges hands but you are able to barter your goods for other goods etc? You might end up saving cash in that way, rather than earning it, and I’m sure there’d be a lot of free publicity surrounding the novelty of such an event if you pushed the right media buttons…plus it’s the ultimate in sustainable living I think…

    It’s just a thought from slightly outside the box…

    Helen

    #1037113
    Luth6322
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    Thanks Helen for your thoughts. A food swap is a great idea, although we do have developed a large group of friends that we reguarly swap good including various meat products already. Since moving on the farm our costs have reduced quite a bit, but sadly there is still alot of outgoings that can’t be bartered away. The idea is great though, and a suggestion I will open up to the community of friends I have developed.

    Regarding progress, I have sent an email to a small farmers co op about 2 hours from were we are located. Although its a little far away, I’m sure we could work something out to ensure we do a bulk cooking/packing day one weekend a month or something such as that. I’m still waiting to hear back from them to find out costs of renting the kitchen etc.

    In the meantime I’m learning lots about the food industry, and finding out what I need to do to ensure we get off on the right foot.

    #1037114
    harrysro
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    Everything you have posted is what we experienced setting up our home-based business.

    We use our home to receive deliveries, store ingredients and manufacture our product. I remember when I first started researching it I nearly threw in the towel there and then.

    I would recommend speaking to whoever does the final inspection to register you as a food business – in Victoria this is our Local Council. Explain to them what you want to do and that you would like to have someone come to your home and assess exactly what needs to be done – use that comparison of those other operators at the markets – ask them what you need to do to set-up like they do.

    For us – we needed to install a second sink in the kitchen solely for hand washing as well as lights in food prep areas that have a non-glass outer service (we just installed down-lights). We also needed to have a storage area for our ingredients and equipment that was separate to our home stuff.

    Setting up a food business from home is overwhelming. You need their help – you need them to visit your home – and give you a written list of everything that needs to happen to get your permit.

    #1037115
    emmajane43
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    hi Carrie,

    I think it’s a great idea! I haven’t any advice for you as I’m not in that industry but I do know that there was a guy down here on the Mornington Peninsula who set a kitchen up from his farm and made the most beautiful chutneys, jams and preserves. He made fantastic baked goodies – old fashioned jam tarts and rustic pies and wonderful breads.
    He had set up a kitchen and basically just worked Friday, Saturday and Sundays. Word spread very quickly and soon there were cars lined up in his “car-park”. He would regularly sell out and had to employ staff (I think that’s where it starts getting hard)
    Everything was so wholesome and fresh and quaint.
    He did this for maybe 3-4 years I guess.
    Last time I went to visit, he had closed shop. Apparantly it just got too big and the whole reason he set it up in the first place was more as a lifestyle business – he still sells his pies on a wholesale basis.
    So it can be done!
    Good Luck with it.
    Emma-Jane

    #1037116
    Luth6322
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    Thanks for your comments. After starting to read the Food Safety book I purchased, it does appear that Jams, Perserves and the like are low risk and all might be ok, as long as we a sensible.

    We are going to do some due dilegence and get advice from a lawyer. I don’t think we need to register, although we still have to put in notification.

    I’ve tried getting in contact with our local council but they still have not gotten back to me, they are not the best when it comes to advice.

    Ben, thanks so much for letting me know what your experience was, its much appreciated to get the thoughts of someone in a similar position as ourselves.

    Cheers

    Carrie

    #1037117
    KoHi
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    Hi Carrie,

    Instead of preparing your products from your own Kitchen, maybe you should explore leasing a commercial kitchen in time blocks to prepare them.
    I will also suggest recording your products in batch numbers, date produced and ingredients used to better safeguard yourself from food safety point of view…

    cheers,
    KoHi

    #1037118
    MYOK
    Participant
    • Total posts: 146
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    Luth6322, post: 45846 wrote:
    Thanks for your comments. After starting to read the Food Safety book I purchased, it does appear that Jams, Perserves and the like are low risk and all might be ok, as long as we a sensible.

    We are going to do some due dilegence and get advice from a lawyer. I don’t think we need to register, although we still have to put in notification.

    I’ve tried getting in contact with our local council but they still have not gotten back to me, they are not the best when it comes to advice.

    Ben, thanks so much for letting me know what your experience was, its much appreciated to get the thoughts of someone in a similar position as ourselves.

    Cheers

    Carrie

    Hi Carrie, we’ve had a couple of people start their business in jams, sauces and preserves in our kitchen and they’ve needed to comply with all food regulations including getting a Use By date for their product (through microbial testing) and providing a nutritional panel etc. The Council is definitely the body that you will need to register with, in whichever kitchen you decide to use. Once the Council have done their bit (and,yes, sometimes they do need a follow up call or two) we usually refer our clients on to a Food Technologist for guidance with the next steps. Some of this you can do yourself. Food businesses have an added layer of regulation compliance, but once you’ve been through it once, it’s not that daunting (just seems like it sometimes!)… Most of the legitimate Farmers’ Markets these days require you to be registered before selling your food product at their markets.

    Good luck with it all!

    #1037119
    Luth6322
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    • Total posts: 82
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    Jane

    Thanks so much for your reply. I posted that so long ago, now and I’ve decided to leave the jams and things for a while. Instead we have focused on our direct meat sales which was a little easier to get our head around. We are able to get all the processing done by the butcher, and as long as we don’t do any processing ourselves, we are allowed to deliver or sell from our licence meat truck.

    What was surprising is the food authority people were just so helpful, a nice change. The council on the other hand (here anyway) have no idea about food authority and what’s required. I sent a letter to council as suggested by food authority, to find out what I needed to do, as I felt making sure we meet the food requirements was the most important thing, but no all the council cared about was if we had the right zoning to allow us to do what we wanted. A quick buck for a planning applications is what they were after.

    Regarding the markets, all you need to do is register as a food business, you don’t need council to approve this, and I think there is probably lots of people out there that just does it and hope the council don’t come by.

    Anyway, my thoughts now that I’ve had a little more experience, and finally got the courage to call food authority.

    Cheers and thanks again for the advice.

    Carrie

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