Processing food

Iowans are increasingly interested in buying local products. CSAs, farmers markets, food hubs, etc. are options that allow consumers to be part of the changing food system. Raw products are available in season, but the customer demand for processed foods is currently unmet. This includes everything from lightly processed food (canned or frozen goods, pre‐cut vegetables, etc.) to highly processed foods (meals, snacks, specialty foods, etc.). According to a Wallace Center study: “investing in new ventures within select supply chain segments will generate the greatest local economic benefits in terms of increased local revenues, jobs, wages, and access to healthy food”.

Depending on the type of product and the scale of production, producers may want to:
– Produce food at home
– Use a shared-use kitchen: this helps users remove restrictive barriers of high‐cost capital investment associated with leasing or purchasing a kitchen and equipment. Shared-use kitchens (or “community kitchens”) allows specialty food businesses like processors, farmers, caterers, food cart vendors and mobile food trucks the opportunity to start from nothing and grow at their own pace.
– Have access to a medium scale processing center: that aggregates and processes local produce from different farmers.


IC Kitchen Connect links entrepreneurs with commercial kitchens in Iowa, allowing food entrepreneurs to Start-up their businesses at a fraction of the cost and helping them to maximize profits when they need it. The website also aggregates information for food enterpreneurs.

Starting a Home-Based Food Business in Iowa Find the information you need to sell food products from your home. This ISU Extension and Outreach publication includes Iowa licensing and inspection requirements. Also includes contact information for additional help.

Shared Use Kitchen Planning Toolkit published by the Leopold Center and ISU Extension and Outreach is a guide to starting a shared-use kitchen as an affordable venue for new and existing value-added food production entrepreneurs, farmers and caterers.

Iowa Success Stories

Shared-use kitchen - Sharing Spaces Kitchen
As of March 2015, there are no kitchen incubators in Iowa. There are several shared-use kitchens or commissaries available for rent (Des Moines Social Club’s culinary loft, New Bo City Market’s Kirkwood culinary kitchen However, several projects are in the works, so please stay tuned! In the meantime, check out Sharing Spaces Kitchen and Greenhouse at the Opportunity Center in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. This facility includes two kitchen areas available for rent by food entrepreneurs, a packing room, a large dry storage area, a walk-in cooler and freezer, loading docks and a large classroom. Sharing Spaces also offers co-packing services, providing integrated work opportunities for the people with disabilities they serve.

sharing spaces
Processor - Iowa Choice Harvest
In 2006, thirteen farmers began planning a new company that would help expand opportunities for Iowa farmers to market their fruits and vegetables. These farmers had a strong belief in crafting a local food system that would provide a fair value to the farmer while producing a quality product for Iowans. After much planning and hard work, they launched our new company in August of 2013. They currently sell frozen peas and chopped apples, and are looking to expand into aronia berries. Current customers include statewide retailers, restaurants, and schools.


Useful contacts

Department of Inspection and Appeals: for all regulatory questions, contact the Iowa DIA for adequate information.

ISU Extension and Outreach – the FFED Enterprise Development Team works with a wide variety of businesses in Iowa to determine business feasibility, marketing feasibility or business-planning assistance.

courtney long

Courtney Long


Shannon Coleman

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