Charcuterie businesses can be a tasty and beautiful add–on to any party or gathering. They include fruit, nuts, cheeses, and meat to not only provide an appetizer for guests but provide an excellent centerpiece for a table. Even the charcuterie board is large enough – it may even be a centerpiece for a room. But as any competitive party-thrower knows, it takes skill and experience to put together a truly great charcuterie board. In this blog, we'll be talking about how to start a charcuterie business.

What is a Charcuterie Business? 

A charcuterie business is a business that sets up a personalized charcuterie at an event or party. They will typically personalize the ingredients and the decorations to fit the event itself and the customer's needs. On the day of the event, they'll bring all the supplies, set up a beautiful display, and then clean up afterward.

Not only does it take some of the pressure off of the party's host, but a charcuterie business will also often label the different ingredients and take the time to make sure everything is perfect for the event. With their artistic touch – the charcuterie board is often a highlight rather than just a table with snacks.

How to Start a Charcuterie Business? 

Starting a charcuterie business can be challenging without the proper preparation. The first thing you'll want to decide is what type of event you want to specialize in. While you may eventually want to expand your business, trying to be something for everyone may cost far too much money.

For example, if you live in Southern California and focus on beach brunches and small parties, you can buy materials specific to that niche. Otherwise, you'd have to buy materials for kids' birthday parties, weddings, and bar mitzvahs.

Another consideration when starting a charcuterie business is food, drink, laws, and regulations. Serving alcohol requires an alcohol license and food needs to be prepared to follow guidelines.

One way to get around these laws is to have the customer buy the food and pay you to set things up in an artistic way, but this may not be something the customer wants to do. It's best to follow the steps below and make sure everything is planned before making a significant investment in materials and decorations.

What Materials do You Need to Start a Charcuterie Business? 

The materials you need for a charcuterie business depend on what type of charcuterie business you'd like to start. Each party or event may have a different theme or colors that you'll need to match. However, you can't wait to purchase these items until you've signed a contract with a customer.

A few things that you may always need are:

Creating partnerships with local grocery stores, wineries, and cheesemakers could give you a leg up on the competition. Showcasing certain meats, nuts, and cheeses could help the brands get exposure and help you save a few dollars. When you think about it, it's almost like a grocery store giving out samples to their customers in a fancy way.

What are the Startup Costs? 

Your startup costs are going to depend on your core theme and customer. Using a basic folding table, a table cloth, and a few decorations from a consignment store, you could get away with starting a charcuterie business for less than a few hundred dollars.

The good news is that whatever you purchase to decorate your display can be used at future events. Unless your materials are lost or broken, you'll be able to keep using them when appropriate.

You'll also need to ensure you have a reliable vehicle to transport your materials from event to event.

Like with any business, your startup costs can exponentially increase depending on how many materials you buy. It's also why starting with a niche and expanding from there is essential. You don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on a children's birthday setup only to have to spend a few hundred more on a graduation party the following week.

We also recommend starting with a core theme that you can expand on. Whether it's a minimal table cloth or a set of charcuterie boards you can continue to reuse, the more flexible your materials, the more you'll save.  

What Should You Charge? 

Prices for charcuterie boards vary depending on the location. After all, cheese is a different price in Lima, Ohio, than in San Diego, California. The first step to pricing your charcuterie boards is to do the math on how much your materials will cost you.

Now that you know your break-even point, you should determine how much your time is worth. How long does it take to set up your charcuterie board?

Lastly, check out the competition. You'll want to stay competitive and have prices that incentivize people to buy from you.

Basic pricing can be per person for a grazing table or based on the number of people at the event. A basic plate or board could be $25, while a grazing table that feeds 7-10 people could cost upwards of $150.

What Licenses and Certifications are Needed? 

Selling food from home can get complicated legally. In most states, if you're selling directly to a consumer, you do not need to be USDA certified to sell nuts and dried fruits or similar items on your charcuterie board.

Due to the high-risk nature of dairy products and meat, you'll need to use an FDA-approved commercial kitchen and safety measures if you'd like to sell these. Therefore, it may be a smart idea to partner with a local restaurant to prepare your food there. If you're lucky, the restaurant will even help you with promotions!

To sell wine and alcohol products with your charcuterie boards, you'll also need a permit to sell to the public.

As with any business, you'll need to also register as an LLC and follow your state's laws. A simple Google search can help you find straightforward guides on applying and the costs (often minimal) involved.

How to Market Your New Business? 

Charcuterie businesses can be competitive. You'll not only be competing against other charcuterie businesses, but also with caterers, wedding planners, and potential clients' family members with an eye for food décor. It'll be essential to find ways to not only set yourself apart but to market what makes you unique as well.

Start with what makes you special.

Whether it's simply that you charge less than others, your menu is more advanced, or you specialize in birthdays while everyone else tries to do it all – you'll need to figure out what makes you unique.

Have a brainstorming session and write down what sets your charcuterie business apart from others. Then you can start developing your brand around these ideas. Be careful with this exercise and ask family and friends what they want out of a charcuterie business. After all, just because you think something about your new business is special may not matter to others.

Use images to your advantage.

If someone hires you to place meats, nuts, and cheeses aesthetically, looks are likely important to them. Whether you're practicing, setting a charcuterie board up for friends, or it's for a client, always take pictures. You can use these photos on social media and your website to strengthen your brand and build trust.

Reviews are king.

Positive reviews and testimonials will help you build trust with your potential customers. Whenever you have a positive experience with a customer, ask them to leave a review or give a testimonial for your website.