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Saturday
Feb092013

Growing Demand for Shared Use Commercial Kitchens

While watching my local PBS station I happened upon a program about “Shared Use Commercial Kitchens”.  While I intuitively new that something like this must exist, it was new to me so I decided to do some research to see how they operate. 

A shared use kitchen is a licensed kitchen facility providing small scale food entrepreneurs commercial space to prepare and process value-added food for consumers. Most facilities also provide training, support and access to other resources and distribution networks. For example, in our local Whole Foods Market we have cookies from Fancy Pants Bakery and Cold Fusion Gelato, both of which were produced in a shared use kitchen.  State regulations vary on food production and some states prohibit food production at home for commercial resale.

There are no equipment standards for shared use kitchens, so they are all a little different depending on the type of food products they are producing. Typical facilities include equipment such as commercial ovens, ranges, mixers, kettles, industrial food processors, refrigerators, freezers, dry storage, sinks, among other equipment.  The kitchens also provide both cold storage and dry storage.

Kitchen space is typically rented by the hour, based on the time of day.  Rates vary from $40-50 an hour during prime business hours to as low as $10 an hour in the middle of the night.  All rates are negotiable and regular users get preference.  Food entrepreneurs, cookbook authors, caterers, food truck owners and producers of specialty foods use these facilities to test new products, expand production and manage growth economically. Shared use kitchens can be the first step toward co-packing and larger scale production capacity.  These facilities also play an important role in community job creation.

It seems to me that if more home cooks were aware of shared use kitchens, more of them would be motivated to test the market with specialty products.  It would give us access to an even greater variety of prepared foods.  Do you have a favorite recipe that you think could be sold for a profit?

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