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10 Tips to Start City Food Ala-cart Business in Nigeria

If you have a flair for cooking so much so that people always commend your culinary skills whenever they taste your meals.

And if you find uncommon joy in making meals, then maybe it’s time to make money off this skill.

Granted, there is a whole lot of capital requirements involved in setting up a City Food Ala-cart Business or  any food business.

And this is what has been holding a lot of people back.

It is for this reason that some chefs started considering cooking out of their home kitchens.

1. Start City Food Ala-cart Business :Why Start a City Food Ala-cart Business  from Home?

First, cooking and selling food from home is convenient.

Especially for chefs who are stay at home mums or even students.

Again, overhead cost is reduced tremendously.

Because you are not paying for any additional facility and the bills that come with it.

You only need to make contact with your clients through the phone.

Or may be through the use of an app; you cook the meals, make the supplies and collect your pay. Easy, right?

But sadly, that is not the only thing involved when one wants to start a home cooked meal business.

The most complicated part of starting this business is fulfilling state laws – yes, licenses and permits.

Before you can start cooking and selling meals from your home kitchen.

You have to first of all find out if the state you reside in allows home cooked meals business.

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

This is because a lot of states in the Nigeria do not allow the selling of food from a home kitchen.

Due majorly to health concerns and lack of a proper monitoring arrangement.

But the good news now is that a lot of states have started losing their stringent laws.

And now instead require people who want to run home cooked meals businesses to acquire licenses and permits before they can start their businesses.

Also, there are various limits they must not cross when running their business.

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Start City Food Ala-cart Business

In 2013, Cottage Food Operations (CFOs) became legal, allowing people to prepare, package and sell non-hazardous foods from a private home kitchen under the Homemade Food Act.

Only specific foods are approved for CFOs and they have to be foods that don’t require refrigeration to avoid people from getting sick.

These foods include baked goods without cream, custard, or meat fillings as well as dried fruit and nut butters and nut mixes.

The list also includes confections such as salted caramel or fudge and fruit pies and fruit tamales.

A CFO must make less than $50,000 or less in gross sales annually to qualify.

It also needs approval from their local city or county to operate.

CFOs fall into two categories, ‘Class A’ and ‘Class B’.

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Start City Food Ala-cart Business

  • ‘Class A’ refers to CFOs that are only allowed to engage in direct sales of cottage foods. This means there has to be a direct transaction between the consumer and the CFO location such as a home, a farmer’s market or a holiday bake sale. ‘Class A’ CFOs don’t generally require inspections from a local agency.
  • ‘Class B’ CFOs can engage in indirect sales through a third-party retailer that holds a valid permit, such as restaurants or bakeries. A ‘Class B’ CFO is initially inspected before a permit is issued but isn’t inspected more than once a year.

‘Class A’ CFOs requires an annual registration plus completing a full ‘self-certification’ checklist, while a ‘Class B’ requires an annual permit.

Both registration and permits also require taking a training course to receive a Food Handlers card within three months of approval. This ensures food is being handled safely and under health code guidelines. Breaking any of these laws means facing dire consequences.

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

See also: 17 Tips to Start Animal Husbandry Business in Nigeria

Start City Food Ala-cart Business  :Important Licenses You May Need to Sell Food from your Home

To begin selling food from your home in Nigeria you have to first of all register your business.

Many states require that the business name and type.

Either a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation.

Be registered with the secretary of state’s office.

Once your registration is complete, you then have to start considering the licenses available to you.

Some of the licenses you are required to obtain for your business include;

Read also: 10 Tips to Start Supermarket Business In Nigeria.

1. Start City Food Ala-cart Business :Food Handler’s License

This license is sometimes called a food and safety certificate.

This may require a test in your knowledge of how food should be handled and stored.

Not only do you have to have a food handler’s license.

But anyone who assists in the cooking will have to obtain one as well.

2. Start City Food Ala-cart Business :Catering License

If you make the food and deliver it, rather than making the food in the client’s kitchen as a personal chef does, then you may need a catering license.

See also: 15 Tips to Start Hampers Business in Nigeria

3. Start City Food Ala-cart Business :Kitchen Inspection

Your kitchen will have to pass a health and safety inspection and be certified, which is a type of license.

Preparing food in an uncertified kitchen may set you up for fines from the state or county.

If your kitchen doesn’t pass and you still want to run a food business from home.

Consider cooking the food in a certified kitchen in the off hours.

For example: a restaurant that only serves breakfast and lunch may be happy to lease you its kitchen for the late afternoon and evening hours.

4. Start City Food Ala-cart Business :Zoning Laws

Check the zoning laws of your city to see if you can operate a business out of your home.

If people come to your home to pick up food, permits may be required.

Obtaining a zoning variance would be necessary.

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5. Start City Food Ala-cart Business :Homeowner’s Association

You must of necessity check with your homeowner’s association rules and regulations.

If you live in a townhouse or condo.

You may find that operating a business out of your home is not permitted.

Getting your business registered when you are not even allowed to run that sort of business from your home would be disastrous.

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

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6. Start City Food Ala-cart Business :Exceptions to Licensing

But for people who what to start on a very small scale.

The Cottage Law also gave them an opportunity to survive.

They are not given freedom to sell all types of homemade food.

And their cooks can only sell at certain venues.

But the laws make it possible to sell something.

Items sold under cottage food laws are exempt from local licensing and codes.

Because of this, only certain sales are legal.

View also: 22 Tips to Promote Consumer Products in Nigeria

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

Foods susceptible to botulism, such as low-acid vegetables, are outlawed pretty much everywhere.

The most acceptable foods include jams and jellies; pickles canned in vinegar.

And baked goods, though that can vary state by state.

Meat is generally not allowed because of widespread health concerns.

Most farmers wanting to sell meat to the public must have it USDA-inspected.

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Start City Food Ala-cart Business

Or offer programs where consumers purchase animals and pay for butchering costs.

And even dairy products made from store-purchased pasteurized milk require special licensing.

Fruits and vegetables grown in a home garden do not require special licensing as long as they have not been cut or altered in any way.

Some states allow cooks to include home-grown produce in cottage food but not all do.

Still, other states do not allow home-canned products, such as fruits or vegetables, within cottage food.

Read also:Top 30 Food Vending Business in Nigeria

 7. Start City Food Ala-cart Business :Get Permit to Sell Food 

Cooking and selling food from the home front provides professional chefs.

And cooking enthusiasts with a low-cost means to operate a small business.

To set up your home business, you would need a stove or two, refrigerator, food storage facilities and cooking utensils.

These are the basics, and anything higher than this would require separate licensing.

You are allowed by law to sell your homemade foods at farmers’ markets.

Grocery stores and online catalogs.

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Start City Food Ala-cart Business

Whether you need licenses and which licenses you need to sell homemade food depends on your state’s and local jurisdiction’s food handling laws.

You need to go through your jurisdiction’s home-based food service rules to get familiar with them.

You can find such rules in several places like your state and local government’s public health, agricultural, taxation, business licensing or zoning websites.

See also: 27 Tips to Conduct Supermarket Market Research in FCT Abuja

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

To get started with acquiring a food license.

You need to set up your kitchen based on the information you were able to glean from your public health department.

You can purchase and install separate kitchen counters.

Additional equipment such as a stove or refrigerator.

And sanitation equipment such as a three-compartment sink, if required by law.

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

You may be required to set-up a completely separate kitchen for your home-based food manufacturing facility.

Even if it is located on your home premises.

When you are done with putting your kitchen in orde.

Your next move would be to contact your public health department for an inspection.

The health inspector would visit your kitchen to determine if the facility is fit for cooking.

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Start City Food Ala-cart Business

The health inspector would either pass your kitchen upon initial inspection or give you a list of items you need to further bring it up to standard.

When you have satisfied all the requirements.

The health inspector would come back to make sure of that.

And if he or she is satisfied, you would be issued with your certificate or permit.

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

In order for products from your kitchen to get accepted by retail stores and farmers markets, you need to furnish them with a copy of your permit.

You may also be required to take a food-handler’s course, depending on your jurisdiction.

Depending on how big a business you intend to run out of your home kitchen.

You can apply for other jurisdictional business licenses as required.

You may be required to register your business and apply for a resale license.

See also: 50 Tips for Less Expends in Business

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

Depending on how much product you manufacture and sell on an annual basis.

Note that some businesses would only buy from you if you have a business license, so endavour to get one.

City Food Ala-cart Business can either be called a mobile kitchen.

A mobile canteen, a roach coach, or catering truck.

This can be defined as a mobile venture that transports and sells food.

Some of these food  City Food Ala-cart Business sell mostly frozen.

Or prepackaged foods such as ice creams, chicken, snacks and beverages, etc.

While others specialize on specific meals, such as breakfast meals, cooked food, etc.

N.B-: This article was culled from the “Complete Guide to Starting a Food Truck Business.”

Now for those who are still doubtful about the potentials of running a City Food Ala-cart Business business.

I want you to know that the City Food Ala-cart  business is a very profitable one based on the following reasons.

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8 . Reasons Why You Should Start  City Food Ala-cart Business

  • Food is one of the basic needs of man and probably the most important of them all. What this means in essence is that regardless of the climatic, economic or political conditions, people must feed.
  • There’s no specific season for food as it is in demand all year round.
  • Starting a food truck business eliminates the need to rent a shop or store, thus saving you money for annual rent renewal and monthly recurring power bill.

    Start City Food Ala-cart Business

  • The mobility of the food truck business gives you an advantage over fast food stores, shops or restaurants as you don’t need to wait for customers to come to you.
  • Rather, you take the food to them thus saving your customers time and sparing them the inconveniences.
  • Even if it is raining or snowing, your customers can be sure of getting their supply from you.
  • Is this not a competitive advantage?
  • You provide a very peculiar service especially to people who don’t have the time or opportunity to go out and buy food.
  • Examples of such individuals include bankers or bank staff, employees, traders and business men, etc.

    Start City Food Ala-cart Business

  • As a mobile food truck owner, you are not tied to a particular location.
  • So if business becomes bad in a particular place, you can take your truck elsewhere.
  • As an intending mobile food truck owner.
  • You can further drive down your startup cost by buying a used food truck or building a custom one.
  • Starting a food truck business does not require much skill.
  • If you know how to drive and cook, you are good to go.

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8. Start City Food Ala-cart Business :Used Food Trucks for Sale – How to Buy a Food Truck

Where can i buy a food truck? Where is the best place to find food trucks for sale?

When it comes to buying food trucks, there are a lot of factors you need to consider, so as to avoid making a mistake.

Without wasting your time, below is a guide to buying a food truck.

a.   First talk to local food trucks business owners and find out the pros and cons of buying a food truck

b.  Decide on the type of truck you want to buy. What are the specifications?

What facilities and features do you want to see in your food truck?

Will you buy a new food truck or a used food truck?

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Start City Food Ala-cart Business

These are some of the questions you need to answer.

c.  Do a search for used food trucks for sale on Craigslist and online auto websites.

d.  Repeat the search on eBay or Amazon Autos.

e.  Contact local food truck vendors and see the type of trucks they have

f.  Make sure the trucks you intend buying whether on eBay, Craigslist or the local vendor meets your desired specification.

g.  Test drive the food truck. If possible, go with an auto mechanic and have him check the engine and other parts.

h.   If you don’t find a food truck that meets your specification.

Then you should consider buying a used van and converting in into a food truck.

A metal fabricator or welder can get the job done.

You can also use light wood or PVC to construct the body of the food truck.

9.Start City Food Ala-cart Business :Challenges of starting a food truck business

Every business or industry has its own unique problems or challenges that you must face.

As an entrepreneur, it is your job to identify these challenges and plan on how best to handle them.

Now when it comes to a food truck business, below are some challenges you may likely face.

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a. It is capital intensive

Setting up a food truck business can be capital intensive, depending on your location and the availability of a food truck within your reach.

Sometimes, most people have to import a food truck or ship it from another state.

Note that even after buying a food truck, whether used or new.

You will definitely tweak or modify the interior or exterior to meet your desired expectation; and this definitely cost money.

Even building your own custom truck doesn’t come cheaper.

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

b. It requires technical know how

To effectively run a food truck business, you definitely need to know how to cook or prepare food recipes and drive a truck.

Also, you will need to know how to balance your books, deal with customers, etc.

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c.  High cost of maintenance

While running a food truck business, you will have to deal with truck maintenance, supervising staff, fuel and energy consumption, taxes, licenses.

Also, the cost in perishables could sometimes be too much for the business.

You will also need to find a mechanic that is knowledgeable about food truck repairs, and this can be a pain because these mechanics are few.

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

d.  Weather – Weather is one of the uncontrollable factors affecting food truck business operators. When there is a bad weather, there tends to be a reduction in sales.

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e.  Getting a good location

The beauty of food truck business is that you can change location easily but when you find yourself in a bad location, you will not make good sells.

This is why we worked hard to provide you with a sample  Food Ala-cart Business marketing plan template to help you through the process.

Therefore, always be on the lookout for a new and good locations.

Also try and be on top of events, festivals, and weekend markets so you can sign up early.

f.  Getting the right menu

Even with a delicious well-prepared food, good customer service and the right pricing.

You may still find it difficult to make sales or breakeven if you have the wrong food on your menu.

That is why a feasibility study is important.

You have to cook what people need, not what you think they need.

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

g.  Getting your customers’ loyalty

Human beings find it difficult to trust one another.

Not to talk of trusting someone with your health and stomach.

Using myself as an example, i don’t buy food anyhow and i don’t walk into any restaurant to eat.

I eat at specific places based on personal experience and recommendations.

So getting your potential customers to trust.

That you can deliver a good meal is quite a challenge.

And the best way to approach this is problem is to encourage word of mouth marketing from your existing customers.

Read on: 7 Ways to Start Peanut Making Business in Nigeria

Start City Food Ala-cart Business

h. Obtaining License, Zoning challenges and Health requirements

These three factors are probably the worst nightmare all food truck entrepreneurs face.

You can’t just kickstart a food truck business.

You must first acquire the necessary operating license.

Then you have to obtain zoning rights which will allow you position your trucks at certain spots.

And finally; you will have to be cleared by the health department.

However, the process for meeting these three requirements are cumbersome.

You should also bear in mind that these three requirements are to be obtained at City levels.

What this means is that any city you want to take your truck to.

You have to be licensed and cleared to operate there.

Now you understand why i said this is a pain.

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10. Start City Food Ala-cart Business :Marketing ideas in Start City Food Ala-cart Business

  • Don’t just sell your food, get to know your customers or their kids and build a relationship with them.
  • Choose a unique business name for your food truck and make sure your truck is well designed and branded.
  • Position your food truck in high traffic areas.
  • Encourage your customers to talk about your business and refer you to their friends
  • Put your business on the web and connect with your community on social media
  • Attend community events and sponsor local sport clubs, if there is any.
  • Ask your customers for suggestions on how to improve your business and serve them better.
  • Maintain a unique route daily and make sure your route and timing is predictable by your customers
  • Ask, research and find out events that will take place within your environment and take your truck there
  • Deliver quality products and offer quality services.


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