How food start-ups are leveraging off shared facilities
Shared commercial kitchen space is being championed and food-based businesses are realising the benefits of a shared economy when it comes to production kitchens, with around-the-clock use of facilities bringing greater efficiencies and value gains for all involved.
One thriving example in the U.S. is a business called The Food Corridor, an app-based operation which harnesses more than 55 kitchens across 28 states and brings together more than 900 food businesses.
Those behind the business say it enables efficiency, growth and innovation by providing a range of licensed kitchens for food businesses to use.
This is perfect for both budding food start-ups and those businesses looking to expand or scale up production without having to enter into an unwieldy lease of their own at a time when they’re fine-tuning the food operation.
It gives fledgling food businesses the opportunity to test a concept and logistics before taking on a lease and indeed, can be the gateway to a successful independent business with ultimately, its own premises.
These commercially-licensed food-grade premises are referred to as “commissary kitchens” and they’re often used by food truck businesses which are constrained for preparation and storage space.
The kitchen premises are offered up on apps with users opting to take out a membership plan giving them specified regular usage, or by-the-hour options for those looking for a more fluid arrangement.
The kitchens vary in their specification, amenities and service provided but, in addition to commercial cooking and preparation facilities, can also include equipment, cold storage, power, water and cleaning.
These commissary kitchens are utilising technology to disrupt the food industry in a positive way for chefs, caterers, food truck operators, artisan producers and meal delivery businesses.
They allow for growth, innovation, collaboration, scalability and consistency.
In New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has an informative website outlining the requirements and scope of the Food Act 2014 which came into force in 2016.
All commercial food businesses must register when they start trading and MBIE has an online tool called Where Do I Fit which allows businesses to see what category they fall into and what legislative requirements they must fulfil.
Broadly speaking, home-based food enterprises have a high compliance threshold which can be prohibitive to many operations, so utilising a commercial premises is preferable and more cost-effective in the long-run.
In Auckland, The Kitchen Project is a collaboration between Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Panuku Development Auckland and the Healthy Families community group.
It provides information, mentoring and some practical assistance to those looking to start a food business and with 60 percent of food businesses not surviving past the six-year mark, it’s a great way to dip a toe into the sector.
Around New Zealand there are various businesses – both app-based and more traditional – offering shared commercial kitchen space; Google “commercial kitchens to lease by the hour” and you’ll get a taste.
If you are a business operating from a commercial kitchen that you lease, perhaps there’s an opportunity for you to work with your landlord and offer a shared facilities scenario to optimise your rental outgoings and open the door to collaborative arrangements with other likeminded food businesses.
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