Cottage Food Law paves the way to establish food businesses

Entrepreneurs who started their business under the Cottage Food Law are moving into commercial food production.

When Michigan’s Cottage Food Law, PA 113, was created in 2010, a “cottage food operation” became exempt from the licensing and inspection provisions of the Michigan Food Law of 2000. A cottage food operation still has to comply with the labeling and other provisions found in the Michigan Food Law, as well as other applicable state or federal laws, or local ordinances. In the past two years since this law was passed, many entrepreneurs have created food products and launched small businesses.

Some of these businesses have been so successful that they have surpassed the $15,000 sales limit of the Cottage Food Law and are moving into commercial production. One such business is Easy Artisan Bread Mix of Tecumseh, Michigan owned by Tony Menyhart and Sally Gralla. Tony, a long time amateur baker, developed the first recipes for his “One Bowl, One Minute” bread mixes in 2010 with no intent to commercialize the product. As he presented the mixes to others as gifts the glowing reports from other bakers convinced him that this was a revolutionary product. A fellow food entrepreneur who Tony knew mentioned that Saline had a winter farm market so a week after deciding to sell bread mix, Tony became a regular at the Saturday market. The direct contact with the customers was vital in developing the packaging and additional products. Tony’s top three selling mixes today are Pizza Crust, Rye, and Sourdough with all three of them being formulated from farm market information.

After a summer of practicing on the farm market customers, Tony decided to take his product to the next level and attained the necessary licensing to move his product from cottage to commercial production. With the assistance of the MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio, Tony debuted his product at the 2011 Making It In Michigan Conference and Trade Show. Today he continues to develop his production capacity and is marketing the product across Michigan with plans for distribution in the Great Lakes region in 2013 and nationwide distribution in 2014.

The MSU Product Center Food-Ag-Bio can assist cottage entrepreneurs in taking their businesses to the next level of commercial production. Innovation counselors are located in Michigan State University Extension offices across the state and can assist with business planning, navigating the regulatory maze, market research, labeling and packaging. For more information, visit the MSU Product Center’s website or call 517-432-8750.

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