FSIC regularly interacts with large and small producers throughout the region, and sometimes we get asked about where to find a Commercial Kitchen.
Commercial Kitchens are FDA approved facilities available for shared use by producers and home-based processors. They typically require the individual to seek their own licensing, such as the KY Homebased Microprocessing or the FDA Acidified Food requirements, and are a very good place to produce small batches of product to get your business started!
Most kitchens are equipped for baked goods, freezing and refrigerating, or canning acidic foods like jams, pickles, or sauces.
We've recently updated our list of Commercial Kitchens as of 2015, so please contact us if you don't see your commercial kitchen listed!
Occasionally a product is unable to be produced in a commercial kitchen due to special processing (pressure canning) or different inspection needs (USDA).
In this case we typically tell them to outsource to a Co Packer, which can be difficult for small producers. A Co Packer is a contracted company that produces many brands of foods for a variety of producers. They have more industrial equipment to make large batches of product, and can sometimes be regulated under the USDA instead of FDA. Very few companies advertise their services, as there are always more customers than co packers, so there is very limited information on finding these businesses.
Some packers, such as Flavorman in KY, specialize in particular products like beverages.
Others process acidified foods, like KHI Foods, or only organic products, like Whole Alternatives in KY. A few companies, like Sunapple Co. in OH, are expanding to pack a variety of products including HACCP regulated ones.
A good place to start is to perform a web search for companies that produce a similar product, and contact them to see if they would co pack your product. Some websites are available with links to multiple packers, such as SpecialtyFoodCoPackers.com, but these external sites may not be updated regularly.
Good luck to all the food entrepreneurs out there looking for commercial kitchens and co packers!