If you love crafts and enjoy playing with your food, then a charcuterie board business might be an excellent business to start! What was once seen as a cute hobby, has now grown into a high-demand and lucrative industry. In this article we will go through each aspect of the business as well as highlight some vital details you'll want to know before slicing into that first salami…
Table of Contents [CLICK HERE TO OPEN]
- What Is A Charcuterie Board Business?
- Are Charcuterie Board Businesses In Demand?
- What Do Charcuterie Boards Sell For?
- How Much Does It Cost To Start A Charcuterie Board Business?
- Can You Start Your Charcuterie Board Business From Home?
- How Do You Build Your Customer Base?
- How Do I Start A Successful Charcuterie Business?
What Is A Charcuterie Board Business?
While a very modern trend, the term “Charcuterie” originally comes from 15th century France and was all about the preparation and storage of pork*. However, as all things tend to change over time, today charcuterie is all about food art and presentation.
During 2020, the desire for something new and exciting caused a massive surge in consumer awareness and therefore demand. Today, charcuterie businesses meet the demand of over 550K people each month searching for gorgeous food artistry to help liven up their parties, meetings and gatherings.
What makes the charcuterie of today so different is that, in most cases, no cooking or preparation of raw ingredients is involved. Rather than cooking, a charcuterie company artistically arranges foods previously made by others to create something totally new. So while a charcuterie business can fall within some food-handing regulations, it stands very uniquely apart from anything else in the hospitality industry.
Are Charcuterie Boards In Demand?
Over the past few years, demand for gorgeous charcuterie boards, boxes and grazing tables has increased in massive ways all over the US. Consequently, small, cottage businesses have been emerging to help meet the demands. Many of them have been quite successful.
Verifying charcuterie is in demand in your area is a smart way to start. In many cases, as long as you have a decent population near you, you can expect there will be a healthy number searching for it. As you can see from the trends stats below, charcuterie is not only in demand now, it has been increasing every year with amazing sales peaks during the holiday season.
Source: Trends.Google.com – 5 year overview
In the US people search for “charcuterie” related terms over 550,000 per month on average with over 744,000 searches globally. To put that in perspective, “how to lose weight fast” (one of the most searched phrases of all time behind the $58 billion dollar per year “health” industry*) only gets 246,000 searches per month.
Source: SEMRush Keyword Search
What Do Charcuterie Boards Sell For?
What do charcuterie boards sell for and is it a profitable business? Fully styled charcuterie boards can sell, depending on size and flavor selections, from $20 – $2,500 and up. In most cases, as long as the business owner keeps an eye on costs of goods, labor and delivery, charcuterie businesses can be quite profitable.
While exact earnings will be totally different from business to business and place to place, you can create some basic projections based on what style and sizes of charcuterie you'd like to sell. You can offer boxes, boards, trays, cones and grazing tables. For these projections we are using data from our deep-dive: The Ultimate Charcuterie Board Price Guide.
Here are some examples:
- Small boxes/boards for feeding 1 – 3 people: $29 – $67
- Medium boxes/boards for feeding 4 – 8 people: $45 – $129
- Large boxes/boards for feeding 10+ people: $99 – $399
- Grazing Tables for parties: $999 – Thousands of dollars
Breaking down these price ranges, here are some projected sales numbers based on volume. Note: These assumptions are made using a 40% margin. This means there are 40% profits above the cost of goods and any labor.
Example: Let's say you are still getting started and only receive an average of 14 orders per week (2 per day).
- 5 medium boards at prices of $129 each ($645 total)
- 3 large boxes at $237 each ($711 total)
- 6 small boards at $65 each ($390 total)
This would be a weekly average of $1,746 in total sales.
Based on 40% margins, this example shows roughly $698.40/week in extra profits. Looked at over a full year, (52 weeks) this would be an extra $36,316.80/year.
Said another way: $90,79/year gross and $36,316.80/year net.
How realistic is this example? As with everything, your success depends on how much effort you put in and demand in your local area. More than a few charcuterie business owners have no problem generating over $100,000 per year from demand in their local area, with some some earning $1 million and up. You can read more success stories in our Charcuterie Success Spotlight.
How Much Does It Cost To Start?
When first starting costs can be kept very low. In most cases it may only be the board/box, meats, cheeses, fruits & veggies. However, as you grow and receive more orders, it will make sense to evolve into an affordable commercial location. This will help you stay within local regulations, reduce costs by ordering directly from distributors AND increasing the potential customers you can access.
You will also want to look into any/all certifications and licenses required for your area. These can be licenses for food handling, food storage etc. In most cases, the costs for these are quite low and may require basic in-class or online training.
Other costs for later stages you can make note of are:
- Basic liability Insurance
- Charcuterie Business License
- Commercial kitchen rental (several options)
- Print materials (business cards/brochures)
- Simple website
- Local online advertising costs
Can You Start Your Business From Home?
The answer is typically yes, with some caveats. At the very start, when you are feeling everything out, creating boards for friends and family from home typically isn't a problem. Most towns won't have issues with testing out an idea of starting a business. (As usual, you will want to check the guidelines in your area just to be sure.)
Then, when you've decided you like building grazing experiences, make it official! The legal specifics will vary from state to state, country to country and even town to town, but tend not to be difficult, time consuming or costly.
You can read more in our comprehensive article about obtaining your charcuterie business license.
States that tend to be hotter during the year (example: Texas/Arizona) typically have important specifics about how you store the meat.
While the idea of having a real commercial space can sound intimidating if you don't have any experience, it's actually pretty simple and straight forward once you start looking into it.
The good news is that once you've decided this is the business for you, you'll want to grow into the world of commercial kitchen rental anyway. The reason is because you can then start to work with distributors and save A LOT of money on the meats, cheeses and foods you feature. Also, having a commercial location, licenses, registrations and certificates opens the doors to where the bulk of your income lives: large commercial orders.
How Do You Build Your Customer Base?
As you saw above, A LOT of people are looking for charcuterie! According to market research, nearly HALF of all searches are “local” searches*. This means the person searching is typically hoping to find results near them.
Source: Google Desktop Search Results
In most cases you can start attracting new customers very easily by using the right charcuterie board business name. Having a consistent presence on social media and setting up a simple website.
Word of mouth is also a powerful diver of sales. Many charcuterie business owners have found the more food artistry they make, the more the people will tell their friends. (Well, to be fair it's often more of the fiends ASKING the party host “OMG who made this amazing board?!”) That's why making sure you are delivering fantastic products is always vital.
However, it is important to avoid falling into the common trap believing word of mouth alone will grow your sales. It won't. Having at least a simple “go to market” strategy in your charcuterie business plan is vital.
Other effective ways to attract charcuterie customers are:
- Consistently posting to social media
- Running local paid ads
- Google Ads
- FaceBook Ads
- Setting up a Yelp business profile
- Investing in Local Search Engine Optimization
- Partnering with local influences
- Promoting with other, complimentary local businesses
How Do I Start A Successful Charcuterie Business?
The best way to start a successful charcuterie business, if you are totally new, is to first make a board or two for friends and family. See if you like it and if it could be something you'd like to do for a living.
For a detailed breakdown of exactly how to start and grow your own charcuterie board business successfully, click here to read more about our free training.
You can also explore our dedicated training and connect with other like-minded business owners in the International Charcuterie Association.