The food industry is one of the few industries that will never go out of business because, simply put, it’s vital to our lives! It’s also one area where you can have huge creative freedom, since taste varies massively from one person to the other.
There’s a world of opportunity when it comes to creating a business that focuses on selling food. The possibilities are endless! So, keep reading, and we’ll tell you what the best food products to sell online are.
The food industry is ever-growing and was estimated to be worth $12.24 trillion in 2021. Think of all the food-related ads you see every day on the street, on the subway, or before you watch a video online. They’re everywhere! So, there will always be a spot for you to launch your online food business.
The food market is constantly changing with societal shifts and trends, so if you decide to start your online food website, there’s definite room for evolution.
Think about all the possibilities that lay in front of you: breakfast, lunch, dinner — and even snacks! And, with all the ecommerce marketplaces out there, it’s now easier than ever to sell food products online. Also, it allows you to gain access to a wider audience compared to having a physical business. In the end, it all depends on your shipping preferences.
You might have to work around a few restrictions, but selling food online doesn’t have to be a daunting process at all.
Now, onto the main course! We’re going to tell you how to choose the best food products to sell online.
So, you want to sell food online? You first need to pick which food products to sell. You should determine what your customer base will be in order to cater to them. Do you want to specialize solely in sweets, organic snacks, or coffee? The world is your oyster, so find out who you want to appeal to.
One very important thing to take into account is trends. They rule the food market! Recently, we’ve seen an exponential growth in vegan and eco-friendly products with the rise of environmentally conscious thinking. Products that go viral on social media, especially on TikTok, will tend to sell like hot-cakes so definitely keep an eye on trending products to sell online.
You could carry out market research in order to figure out which items are in high demand, and what would be the best food products to sell online.
Once you have an idea of what you would like to sell, it’s time to work out the logistics. You could have the best, most original idea in the world, but if it isn’t realistically doable, it probably isn’t worth it. How easy is your product to ship? Would you have to worry about expiration dates? Shipping in a low-temperature environment?
Then, with all that in mind, you can start to calculate your potential profits. If you’re going to spend all that time and money on your business, you should make sure that it has a lot of potential! Make a business plan, detailing what the aim of your business is, all of your products, logistics, budget, and expected profits.
The next step is to ensure that your food business is in accordance with the law.
If you start a food business, you must make sure that you comply with all the food restrictions in place in the United States. They’re all regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and any business selling food in the US must register with the FDA ahead of getting started. That way, the Agency will know about the origin of your food, where it will go, and if it could present a sanitary threat or not.
Some products are more regulated than others – such as seafood and juice – so keep that in mind when you’re picking which food products to sell online.
Advice from the Experts
Top Tip: If you’re importing products to the US, you must ensure that it contains no prohibited ingredients, and that the labeling is accurate. The FDA has to be notified of all shipments of food to the US prior to their arrival so that they can be inspected.
Over the last decade, the demand for vegan food has grown exponentially. So, there’s a huge market for anything vegan, and brands are becoming more and more creative when it comes to products. The Louisville Vegan Jerky Company, for example, makes vegan jerky out of soy protein. Packaged snacks like these – or popcorn, nuts, candy – are relatively easy to store and ship.
The meat substitute market in the US is extremely prolific and is set to be worth $234.7 billion by 2030! It’s attractive to vegans looking to add protein to their diet, or people cutting down on their meat intake, and comes in many different forms as well, from realistic burger patties to mushroom protein powder.
Beyond Meat is probably the best example when it comes to plant-based protein products. It revolutionized the industry. The company is now worth $9 billion globally and sells vegan burgers, ground meat, chicken, sausage, and mince – all plant-based, of course!
People with celiac disease can’t eat foods that contain gluten — such as bread, pasta, pizza, and cakes — but, many people in the US choose to eat gluten-free as a lifestyle choice.
Since the market is continuing to grow, why not join it? You could sell gluten-free flour, such as rice, potato, corn, or tapioca. The British online retailer Healthy Supplies sells a wide range of gluten-free supplies, from pasta and grains to snacks that you can buy in small quantities, or in bulk.
Another food product to sell online is healthy instant meals. Everyone can relate to the experience of not having the energy to cook, and going with a meal that can be ready in minutes. They tend to have a bad reputation though because lots of instant meals are seen as unhealthy.
The online retailer Snackfully offers a range of instant meals that are healthy, low in calories, and high in protein. It also has some gluten-free, vegan, and kept options.
With Covid-19, people have become more conscious about healthcare and the nutritional value of their food. The past few years have seen an increase in consumer interest for ingredients such as chia seeds, açai berries, or quinoa. These ingredients are immune-boosting, and packed with healthy fats and vitamins.
The online retailer Terrasoul focuses on superfoods that are affordable and sustainably sourced. It sells everything from nuts to powders and dried fruit.
Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee every single day! There’s plenty of money to be made with this food product. There’s been a rise in interest for organic coffee especially, so definitely focus on that if you decide to venture into the coffee world.
The influencer Emma Chamberlain launched her coffee brand Chamberlain Coffee in 2019, which offers a wide range of blends that are sustainably sourced and packaged.
Hot sauce is a great idea for an online food business if you’re just starting out. Even though there are cult classics, food lovers will tend to try unknown indie brands when it comes to hot sauce. Plus, hot sauce is more popular than ever, thanks to the YouTube show “Hot Ones”, which has an impressive 11.6 million subscribers. And if they like it, customers will repurchase it! You just need to find the right recipe, and you’re good to go.
Herbal tea is an interesting product to sell online. Since it doesn’t contain caffeine, it’s packed with antioxidants and is known to help with stress. You could focus on the health benefits, or on your own specific blends to offer a unique experience to the customer.
Teatulia offers classic organic herbal teas, but its blends can be incorporated into cocktails and dishes, which is quite a unique selling point.
Starting an international food store is an exciting online business idea because you cater to both food lovers and communities! The only thing is that you have to be mindful of all the regulations, since all of your products will be imported. A great example of a successful store is Swagat – an Indian grocery store based in the US. It sells all the staples in Indian cuisine, as well as snacks, fruit, and vegetables.
Baby food is a huge market to tap into. If a customer likes and trusts your product, they’ll repurchase it for as long as the baby needs it. Baby food is easy to make, but safety is key – make sure everything is baby-safe before you start selling!
The brand Fragola makes organic baby food that focuses on healthy ingredients, including superfoods. It also offers a subscription option, so customers never have to worry about running out.
Whether you’re a foodie or not, selling food online can be a fun business adventure! The food market is one of the biggest industries out there, and the possibilities are endless. You’ll need to stay on top of ever-changing food trends to make sure that what you’re offering will still be in demand.
But, all that’s left for you to do is pick the right food choice for your brand, follow required food regulations, get selling, and bon appétit!
For more inspiration, check out our list of food business ideas.