Launching a Food Venture

The Western Mass Food Processing Center (FPC) is available to help guide you along the path to the success of your product. FPC members have access to complete technical support including business planning, product development, regulatory compliance, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of wholesale and retail products.

Our facility provides access to shipping, receiving, dry and refrigerated storage, and commercial processing equipment. In addition, we regularly offer workshops, exhibitions, and other opportunities to network with other small- and medium-scale food ventures.

We advise that entrepreneurs develop a basic business plan, perform small batch testing, and understand the complexities of cost and technical requirements for manufacturing food products before fully launching into production. With food products, the first priority is food safety. Know and understand all relevant regulations affecting your product before you move ahead. The Western Mass Food Center is here to assist you in merging the basic business plan with the details of food manufacturing, distribution, marketing and sales.

See our Food Processing Center section for more information on our services, facilities and membership rates, and current and former producers.

Getting Started Checklist

  • Business plan narrative: Explain your business concept and product attributes. Describe your market, and the outlets where your product will be sold. Explain how you will manufacture, sell, and deliver product to customers.
  • Product development: Start with your home-scale recipe, and record all ingredients by weight. Perform small batch testing to perfect recipe. Keep records of the cost and source of all materials and ingredients used.
  • Lab review: for any shelf-stable product, an outside lab should review your recipe or process to verify that the finished product will be safe for consumers. Establish the shelf-life of the product.
  • Get ServSafe Certified: You can take a class or study materials online and then take the ServSafe test. To find a ServSafe class nearby, go to ServSafe,com or check the Greenfield Community College listings
  • Develop a draft or mock-up of the label and packaging.
    Remember, the packaging is often the first and only contact the consumer has with your product. Your package must do the selling without you there in the store.
  • Work with commercial suppliers of food products to obtain the best pricing for your product. Develop a worksheet for each product to help you calculate the cost of each unit.
  • Complete worksheets for your overhead expenses and sales projections. You’ll find downloadable worksheets in the Business Planning Worksheets section.
  • Work with the FCCDC and Food Center staff to develop pricing that includes all your costs, profit, and distributor costs.
  • Obtain general and product liability insurance.
  • Register your business with the FDA.
  • Apply for all required licenses.
  • Print your label once approved by the regulators.
  • Get out there and sell, sell, sell!

Regulatory Agencies

Wholesale License to Manufacture and Distribute Food:
Mass Department of Public Health,
Food Protection Program
305 South Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Telephone: (617) 983-6700

Retail Food Service License (Pushcarts, catering, farmstand):
Greenfield Board of Health
Town Hall, Greenfield, MA 01301
(413) 772-1404

USDA: Regulates meat and poultry products for wholesale:
Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS)
(402) 221-7400

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Domestic Food Producer Registration:

General information

Laboratory Analysis/Process Review
Office of Dr. Olga Padilla Zacor
ATTN: Elizabeth Keller
Cornell University/NYSAES
630 West North St., Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 787-2273

General Food Business Resources

  • Northeast Center for Food Entrepreneurship
  • New England Extension Food Safety Service
  • Department of Agricultural Resources
    “Food Processors Resource Manual”
    251 Causeway St., Suite 500
    Boston, MA 02114
    (617) 626-1753