The Pretty Bear's Bakery Small Variety Box; Image special to The Pulse

EXCLUSIVE: Home-Based Food Producers Get Legislative Support

When Liang Xu moved from Shanghai in 2019, she missed the food from her home. She explains, I wanted to be a part and introduce something unique and cultural though food into the area. This is how I started to bake as a small business.” Running the Pretty Bear’s Bakery from home allows her flexibility, slow growth, and low overhead–all important factors for startup businesses.

“I specialize in custom designed cookies for any occasion.” says Kim Carmichael owner of Lux Cookie Company, “I design images, photographs, business logos, etc. in photoshop and transfer them onto edible frosting sheets with a food printer. The images are then iced onto delicious white velvet sugar cookies!” The passing of HB663 has been extremely beneficial to cottage bakers like myself.”

Both women market their home-made products through social media and word-of-mouth rather than selling through storefront locations. “I can still have a small business without too much overhead compared with a storefront.” Xu commented, “Owning a storefront will give me too much stress and cause a lot more overhead.”  Carmichael agrees that a home-based business is right for her. “My cookies are made to order, so it wouldn’t be feasible for me to open a storefront.” 

Florida House Bill 663 (HB663) sponsored by District 1 Representative Michelle Salzman was signed into law at the end of June by Governor DeSantis.  The bill empowers small businesses by easing burdensome regulations on cottage food operations that produce foods that are already declared safe for production at home.

Olandria Hudson, Owner and Pastry Cook at Henny Penny’s Patisserie worked in the Hospitality industry for over 20 years and earned degrees in European Baking & Pastry and Hospitality Management. Now she spends her time creating southern delights and classic European tarts. Hudson also looks forward to changes the bill will bring her business, “With the new Cottage Food Operations Bill (HB663) I will be converting my storefront bakery business back to a Cottage Food Operation! This bill allows me to cut overhead cost and generate higher income.”

HB663 benefits entrepreneurs and their customers by allowing the sale and delivery of cottage food products through the mail and increases the maximum sales threshold from $50,000 to $250,000 annually. It also allows home-based producers to have partners. The legislation benefits consumers by improving access to cottage foods and small business by providing more opportunities for sales. Many types of producers are included in the bill including makers of pasta; vinegars and flavored vinegars; popcorn and popcorn balls; dry herbs, seasonings and mixtures, to name a few.

As more consumers make an effort to eat locally produced goods, cottage food producers are becoming a more important part of the Northwest Florida economy.  Each state regulates their own food safety, and the federal government usually doesn’t intervene. For those with food safety concerns, supporters say cottage foods are as safe as commercial foods, if not safer, because purveyors are cooking for people they know.

Carmichael is enthusiastic about the new legislation and explains, “Before this passed, Florida law included outdated restrictions that don’t exist in most states. This long overdue reform will lead to the creation of many new small businesses across Florida, empowering home entrepreneurship. The main benefit for me is being able to ship all over the country now, which has really boosted my sales. I’m so grateful for Representative Salzman for getting this bill passed!”

Lux Cookie Company- Cookies with Personalized Designs
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