If you have a knack for artistically arranging cured meats, cheeses, and fruit, you could turn your culinary hobby into your own charcuterie board business. This unique side hustle involves assembling and selling charcuterie boards to anyone in need of snacks for their dinner party, brunch, wedding, or other event.
If you’re interested in learning how to start a charcuterie business, your first step is understanding exactly what this business is and how it works.
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In this article
- What is a charcuterie board business?
- How does a charcuterie board business work?
- Will a charcuterie board business work in your area?
- How much can you earn with a charcuterie board business?
- How much does it cost to start a charcuterie board business?
- Can you start a charcuterie board business from home?
- Building your customer base
- Bottom line
What is a charcuterie board business?
A charcuterie board business is a type of catering business that specializes in charcuterie boards. While the 15th-century French term “charcuterie” originally referred to pork products, today people in the U.S. use it to refer to arrangements of cured meats, cheeses, fresh and dried fruits, chutneys, nuts, pâtés, and other snacks.
Charcuterie boards can be an affordable way for hosts to feed their guests, but they can also be a noteworthy centerpiece themselves. As the business owner, you’ll be responsible for putting together beautiful and delicious boards.
You’ll also handle day-to-day operations, such as accepting orders, handling transactions, and completing deliveries. You might choose to drop off charcuterie boards with disposable plates, or you could offer additional services, such as providing supplies, setting up displays, and cleaning up after the event.
How does a charcuterie board business work?
When it comes to learning how to start a charcuterie board business, it’s important to consider all the logistics. First, you’ll need to identify your core product.
You might offer a single type of charcuterie board in a few different sizes, such as specialty cheese plates, or you could allow your clients to mix and match their preferred ingredients. To differentiate yourself from the competition, you might also hone in on a theme, such as breakfast foods or vegetarian charcuterie boards.
When you’re shopping for ingredients, keep track of costs so you can set your prices accordingly. You’ll also need to get the word out about your services. Some marketing channels to consider include social media and word of mouth.
As you’re setting up your food business, look into permits and licenses. As a business in the food industry, you may need a food service permit, as well as access to a commercial kitchen. You’ll also need a special permit if you want to provide wine or other alcoholic beverages.
Finally, you’ll need a system for processing and completing orders. You could set up a website to handle orders and transactions and deliver the boards yourself in the beginning. Eventually, you might hire personnel to help with deliveries so you can focus on how to make money and grow your business.
Will a charcuterie board business work in your area?
Before starting any type of business, it’s useful to do market research. In this phase, you’ll do some digging to figure out if there would be a demand for your product, as well as identify any local competitors.
The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends using resources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics to gain insight on demographics, employment statistics, and other economic indicators in your area.
You could also put out feelers by contacting your network, posting in community Facebook groups, or speaking with your local Small Business Administration office or Chamber of Commerce.
Another way to figure out if a charcuterie board business will work in your area is to pre-sell your products. You could set up a website, promote your products, and invite interested customers to sign up for a waitlist. By pre-selling, you can gauge interest before you’ve invested much money into your charcuterie board business.
Finally, it’s worth checking out if anyone else is running a charcuterie board business in your area. A successful competitor could mean there’s demand for charcuterie boards, but you might want to consider how you’ll differentiate yourself from this other business.
How much can you earn with a charcuterie board business?
The amount you earn from your charcuterie business will depend on a number of factors, including your setup costs, pricing, and customer demand. Food blog Homebody Eats offers the following pricing suggestions for charcuterie boards:
- Small board for one to two people: $25 - $35
- Medium board for three to five people: $45 - $90
- Large board for eight to 10 people: $85 - $150
- Grazing table for 30 people: $700 - $1,000 or more
If you made a medium board for one client per week, you could make around $180 to $360 per month. If you bumped that up to five clients per week, your monthly income would be closer to $900 to $1,800. Of course, you could make more or less depending on your number of clients, the size of your boards, and your pricing structure.
When setting your income goals, it’s important to take into account all your setup and ingredient costs as well as any license or permit expenses. Don’t forget to factor in the time that it takes you to shop for snacks, put together the boards, and complete deliveries.
You’ll need to make sure your pricing is a good fit for your customers and results in a net profit after taking your time and financial investment into account.
How much does it cost to start a charcuterie board business?
When you’re starting a charcuterie board business, the main expenses you’ll need to cover are supplies, ingredients, and business licenses and permits.
You can probably order your supplies for a few hundred dollars. These might include disposable or reusable boards as well as additional utensils such as bowls, cutting boards, and tongs.
Your ingredients might also cost a few hundred dollars, depending on what you choose. You could potentially reduce costs by buying in bulk or opting for an affordable grocery store over a gourmet shop.
If you’ll be selling perishable foods, you may need to rent an FDA-approved commercial kitchen to prepare your boards. Renting a kitchen typically costs somewhere between $15 and $45 per hour.
Finally, registering your business as a limited liability company (LLC) or another type of business could protect you from personal liability. The state filing fee for registering as an LLC varies from $40 to $500 depending on where you live.
Can you start a charcuterie board business from home?
You might be wondering how to start a charcuterie business from home, but your options could be limited. Meats, cheeses, and other perishable foods are considered high-risk, so you’ll likely need to prepare them in a commercial kitchen.
As mentioned above, you could rent an FDA-approved commercial kitchen on an hourly basis. If you have any connections in the restaurant industry, you might also be able to partner with a local restaurant to put together your charcuterie boards there.
That said, it might be possible to prepare your charcuterie boards at home if you’ll only be offering low-risk foods. Cottage food laws typically allow you to sell foods like baked goods, pickles, nuts, or candy from your own kitchen.
Ultimately, the legal aspects of running a food and beverage business vary between states (and even between counties). Before starting your charcuterie board business, it’s a good idea to reach out to your local health department, as well as a small business lawyer, to ensure that you’re following all the guidelines.
Building your customer base
As you’re learning how to start a charcuterie board business, you’ll also need to think about how you’ll get the word out about your offerings. Social media could be a big help here. You could share enticing photos and captions on Instagram or post about your business in community Facebook groups.
You might also offer a few charcuterie boards for free to local businesses or influencers in exchange for their help with marketing. Paid ads targeted to potential charcuterie board customers are another way to let people know about your business, though these will increase your startup costs.
When you get hired, it could be a good idea to leave a few business cards beside the charcuterie board or include your contact information somewhere visible so that guests at the event learn about your services.
Finally, don’t forget about the power of referrals. Let your friends and family know about your new business and ask them to spread the word among their own networks.
Is a charcuterie business profitable?
A charcuterie business could be profitable, as long as you can sell your charcuterie boards for a higher price than it costs to assemble them. To ensure your business is profitable, you’ll need to track your expenses carefully, including the cost of ingredients, supplies, and delivery.
Don’t forget to take any marketing costs into account as well when you determine your profit margin. If there’s a demand for charcuterie boards in your area, your business could become a profitable side hustle or even your full-time job.
What does a charcuterie board include?
Charcuterie boards typically include an assortment of cured meats such as prosciutto, cheeses, fruit, vegetables, dips, jams, condiments, honey, chutney, nuts, olives, bread, crackers, pretzels, or other snacks that complement one another. These are usually arranged artfully on a wooden board or another platter.
Plus, you might provide small bowls or cups to separate some of the foods, as well as plates, napkins, tongs, or other supplies that help with serving. As the business owner, you might simply deliver prepared charcuterie boards or help with setting up the display before the event and cleaning up after.
How much does it cost to make a charcuterie board?
The cost of making a charcuterie board will vary depending on the size of the board and the ingredients you choose. According to KitchenSeer, a cheese board alone could cost between $50 and $150, but you might be able to keep costs at $30 or less. Buying in bulk or opting for affordable grocery stores can keep your costs down, but you’ll also want to balance saving money with offering fresh, high-quality ingredients.
Becoming a charcutier might be tempting for anyone with a love of gourmet snacks and an eye for artistic food arrangements. Since food laws vary from place to place, make sure to research your local regulations before you start selling.
Speaking with your local Small Business Administration office or Chamber of Commerce could also help point you in the right direction. Plus, it could be worth joining local groups for entrepreneurs to learn from others in your area and grow your network.
People have been enjoying charcuterie for hundreds of years (albeit in a slightly different form), and the trend doesn’t seem to be disappearing anytime soon. By starting a charcuterie business, you could turn your food-assembly talents into the best side hustle for you.
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