Specialty food refers to a category of food prepared in small quantities using premium and unique ingredients sourced globally. Quality ingredients add an extra health dimension to produced foods and provide a wide range of micro-ingredients like vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
According to research, the global specialty food ingredients market is expanding at an annual growth rate of 6.4%.
Therefore, starting a specialty food business in 2023 could be your big-time business idea. Identify a niche and pick a reliable supplier for your business. Decide on the business type and register it before applying for business licenses and permits.
Here are some real life success stories of starting a specialty food business:
1. Simple Goodness Sisters ($84K/year)
Belinda Kelly and Venise Cunningham (from Enumclaw, Washington, USA) started Simple Goodness Sisters over 4 years ago.
Hi! We are the Simple Goodness Sisters, real-life sisters Belinda Kelly (4 years younger, the bartender) and Venise Cunningham (the older sister and the farmer.) We are a lifestyle beverage brand focused on bringing the world a Happier Hour, from garden to glass.
The first product we launched were our simple syrups. The syrups launched in three flavors in Fall 2018 (Rhubarb Vanilla Bean, Marionberry Mint, and Huckleberry Spruce Tip), followed by 3 additional flavors in Spring 2019 (Lemon Herb, Berry Sage, and Blueberry Lavender), and edible flower salts and sugars for rimming in Fall 2019. During that time we pushed our ability to grow, harvest, and package in a major way, growing at a rate of 4 times our original production, with quite a learning experience along the way. We both come from a technical background in corporate Seattle, so organic farming, food production, and entrepreneurship are all areas we’re learning by doing, and Google!
2. Liberated Specialty Foods ($1.2M/year)
Stacey Schlaman (from Alabama, USA) started Liberated Specialty Foods almost 8 years ago.
I’m Stacey, founder and President of Liberated Specialty Foods, based in the quiet town of Madison, Alabama. We run a food manufacturing business making a full line of baked food (made mainly from nut flours) like almond flour pizza crust, cashew bread, and coconut flour donuts, along with additive-free sauces like ketchup and pizza sauce; with the specific mission to help those suffering from autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s and Colitis, that ALSO fill the niche of Keto, Paleo, Atkins, and other trending diets.
We sell online and to retailers. We went from about 100 retailers with our products in 2016 to over 1,000 today, including major chains from Whole Foods and Sprouts to Wal-Mart -- and we hope to keep adding more!
Learn more about starting a specialty food business:
Where to start?
4. janori ($36K/year)
Johanna and Raphael Spannocchi (from Munich, Germany) started janori about 2 years ago.
Hi there! We are Raphael and Johanna Spannocchi, the founders of janori. janori sells delicious, local, organic food. Like organic coffee, great, slave-free chocolate handmade in Munich, Germany, and some of the finest Gin on the planet.
Our other bestsellers are the original sugared almonds usually sold at the Munich Octoberfest. Since this massive beer celebration was canceled in 2020, we were able to secure a portion of this delicious original for our customers. Made from just 3 ingredients, you get an amazing taste without the additives like wax and shellac often found in these products from bigger, industrial manufacturers.
5. ChipMonk Baking ($1.08M/year)
David Downing (from Houston, TX, USA) started ChipMonk Baking about 4 years ago.
Hi there! My name is David Downing and I’m co-founder & CEO of ChipMonk, a specialty mail-order bakery based in Houston. We make low carb, gluten-free desserts, and ship them all across the country. Our mission is to help people indulge mindfully and make better nutritional choices.
As an early-stage company, we’ve remained focused on growing via e-commerce before we attempt to tackle wholesale or get into grocery stores. Right now, we sell around $25,000 a month, with most of that coming directly from our website.
6. Baltimore in a Box ($420K/year)
Ross Nochumowitz (from Baltimore, Maryland, USA) started Baltimore in a Box over 8 years ago.
Hello, I am Ross Nochumowitz and I founded and operate Baltimore in a Box: a popular gifting company that allows one to customize a Baltimore-inspired care package and ship it anywhere in the world. We make it easy to do all of this without lifting a finger (other than pressing the keys on your computer, tablet, or smartphone).
For the past couple of years, we have been working on growing our brand via our own Baltimore-themed Ice Cream line to help market our gift box business called: Baltimore in a Box Ice Cream. We teamed up with a local Ice Cream maker and produced uniquely Baltimore flavors inspired by the very items we include in our gift boxes.
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Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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