University of Maryland Extension

Starting a Specialty Food Business in Maryland Webinar


 Starting a Specialty Food Business in Maryland

Consumers are attracted to specialty foods because they have the image of them being “homemade” from natural ingredients, uniquely packaged, or specially prepared.  Many specialty foods are not really “new” products.  Instead, they often consist of variations or unique combinations of existing products.  Your “Jammin Jelly” is not a new product, but an improvement on an existing product with a new name and, perhaps, a new style of packaging.

Simply being a good cook with an improved idea will not ensure good, safe products for commercial marketing.   In Maryland, with the exception of certain products and set quantities, you cannot manufacture your product in a residential kitchen. Most processed or value-added foods must be manufactured in a licensed commercial kitchen.  You must comply with Federal and State regulations regarding the preparation of food products, regardless of the size of your business.  Food safety is a key issue in all food processing.

Specialty food processing often uses locally grown or sourced ingredients. Locally produced, specialty foods have an important market opportunity because they:

-Increases the food entrepreneur’s share of food dollars by eliminating middlemen

-Enhances profitability and viability

-Expands consumer access to fresh, whole, foods

-Builds the local economy, creates jobs

-Contributes to community culture and cuisine, quality of life, tax revenues

-Reducing food miles, conserves energy 

But, what’s involved in starting a specialty food business in Maryland?  Before you advertise your first product, or apply for a food processing license, you’ll need to determine if you have a marketable product.  This webinar examine the “Go, No Go “ Decision processes for starting a specialty food business in Maryland.

Presented by: Ginger Myers (, Ag Marketing Specialist, University of Maryland Extension

Presentation Handouts:

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