Starting or Growing a Food Business in New Hampshire
Planning a food business can seem like a daunting task. While the main focus of your business is developing your food product, you must also consider the many facets of owning a business such as capital, business and marketing plans, insurance, and applicable regulations. The following 4 step process will help you get started.
4 Steps for Starting a Food Business in New Hampshire
Step 1: Licensing Your Food Business
Your first step is to determine who has regulatory authority for your food product(s). If your business will be or is in one of the 15 self-inspecting cities or towns listed below, you will need to contact the Health Inspector for that town.
NH Self-Inspecting Cities and Towns
All other locations in New Hampshire are regulated by the NH Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services, Food Protection.
Here are the links to NH Food Protection’s services and resources:
- Food Establishments– includes retail foodservice, food processing plants, and homestead food operations
- Beverage and Bottled Water Manufacturers
- Dairy Farms and Dairy Plants
- Shellfish Harvesters and Dealers
- FSMA – Produce Safety
The NH Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food provides inspection services for several food products including apples, cider, eggs, potatoes, honey and maple products. The Division of Regulatory Services administers the Seal of Quality Program and is accredited by USDA to provide Organic Certification services in New Hampshire.
The NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food is also responsible for animal health and welfare and the weighing and purchase of milk from the farm.
2: Become Familiar with Local and/or State Food Regulations
He-P-2300 The NH Rules for the Sanitary Production and Distribution of Food outlines requirements for the safe production and serving of food as well as information related to licensing.
If your food business is located in a self-inspecting jurisdiction, ask the health inspector how you can obtain a copy of applicable food and small business regulations.
New Hampshire allows home food manufacturing under certain rules. Visit Food Protection’s Homestead Food Operations’ page. If your home kitchen is located in one of New Hampshire’s 15 self-inspecting cities or towns, contact the Health Inspector to determine if and what foods can be manufactured in a home kitchen.
3: Work with Your Health Officer/Food Inspector to Meet Regulatory Requirements
With your Food Inspector, you will:
- Review your food product, including recipe/formulation and processing method.
- Review plans/location for processing your food product (for example, home kitchen, commercial kitchen, co-packer).
- The Health Inspector will determine which location(s) your food product can be legally manufactured.
- Work with your Health Inspector to design and approve plans/renovations to home or a commercial kitchen.
- Work with the Inspector to have her/him inspect your home or commercial kitchen before issuing your license. Make any modifications as specified by the Inspector.
- Get a process review for your food product(s) if required. See Food Processing Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
- Complete the required paperwork, tests, or other requirements for the license application.
- Be sure to contact your Health Inspector before you add new products or if you change the formulation or processing method for your current product(s).
Step 4: Make Sure You Meet All Other Local/State Requirements for Business Owners
These resources will assist you with state business requirements. (Molly, hyperlink these resources please)
- NH State Government – Doing Business in NH
- The NH Small Business Development Center
- Check out their eCourse - Starting a Business in NH
- NH Business Resource Center (An office of the NH Division of Economic Development)
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
- How do I get started in business?
- BUZGate.org™ is a leading branded business-to-business resource and referral community
For local regulations and requirements for businesses, contact your city or town office.
The Cornell Food Venture Center is an excellent resource for technical information regarding your product and processing technique, including:
- Publications such as “Small Scale Food Entrepreneurship: A Technical Guide For Food Ventures”
- Workshops on topics related to small food businesses
- The Center is a recognized Food Processing Authority
The University of Maine also offers product and process testing.
Regulations require some food products be reviewed by a Food Processing Authority prior to licensing. For more information go to the NH Food Protection’s Food Processing Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for a list of processing authorities.
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plans
New Hampshire regulations require some food businesses to develop and implement HACCP plans. Here are some general resources:
Overview of HACCP, Purdue University
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
HACCP, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Sanitation
Food safety and sanitation is critical to your food business. UNH Cooperative Extension implements two food safety programs that provide important information about personal hygiene, time and temperature, and cross contamination. Please contact the Food Safety Field Specialist in your county UNH Cooperative Extension Office listed below.
Ann Hamilton – firstname.lastname@example.org, 603-447-3834
Covers the eastern side of NH including Carroll County.
Mary Choate – email@example.com, 603-787-6944
Covers the western side of NH including Grafton County
Listings of Food Businesses in New Hampshire and Other Resources
New Hampshire Specialty Food Products Directory
New Hampshire Made
The mission of NH Made is to strengthen New Hampshire's state economy by increasing the awareness and demand for New Hampshire-made products and services and providing the support programs local businesses need to grow.
Hannah Grimes Center
25 Roxbury St.
Keene, NH 03431
Hannah Grimes' mission to educate entrepreneurs is rooted in the vision that the success of these entrepreneurs results in a thriving local economy and vibrant community built upon our region's heritage, culture, natural resources, and the entrepreneurial spirit of its people. Hannah Grimes provides educational programs and one-on-one business coaching for entrepreneurs. Includes a retail store in Keene and a Center with office space for new businesses.
New Hampshire Business Resources
Small Business Administration (SBA)
New Hampshire District Office
JC Cleveland Federal Building
55 Pleasant St., Suite 3101
Concord, NH 03301
Phone: (603) 225-1400
Fax: (603) 225-1409
New Hampshire Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) Offices
143 N. Main St., Room 202A
Phone: (603) 225-1400
Fax: (603) 225-1409
New Hampshire Small Business Development Center
Center for Family Business
University of New Hampshire
24 Rosemary Lane, Brook House
Durham, NH 03824-3593
Barbara Draper, Center Director
The purpose of the Center for Family Business is to offer services and information for entrepreneurial families.
These resources provide information and resources on financing your small business.