Webinar explores cottage food industry in Alaska

(Miranda O'Bryan)
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 2:35 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A webinar exploring cottage food production sponsored by the Alaska Food Policy Council, Alaska Farm Bureau and Alaska Farmers Market Association is available for people interested in selling homemade goods.

Cottage foods include breads, pies, cookies, jams, jellies, pickles, salsas, kombucha and sauerkraut — foods that don’t need temperature regulation. It excludes meats and dairy products.

“There’s a lot of, there are a lot of products that they can make from home and sell. I mean, most of the products I think we see made and sold at farmer’s markets and bazaars,” said Lorinda Lhothka, with the Department of Environmental Conservation Food Safety and Sanitation Program. “There’s a lot of small confectionary businesses people that make you know chocolates and fudge and truffles and, and we’ve seen a lot of small businesses get their start in the cottage food and then move on to becoming food processors that actually just distribute their product across the state.”

The webinar goes over exemption requirements and answers questions about regulations, permitting and labels for both the state and Municipality of Anchorage.

Lhothka, who is also the secretary of the Alaska Food Policy Council, said now is a typical time that people start planning for farmers markets, so it’s important to understand what the requirements are to qualify as cottage food and what the next steps are if people want to expand.

Robbi Mixon, of the Alaska Food Policy Council, the Farmers Market Association and the Alaska Food Hub, said many people have been creating food products in the past year.

“I will say this year has been our biggest year of cottage food sales,” Mixon said. “I’m actually working on the numbers right now but we’ve had a lot more baked items and jams, those kind of things on our food hub this past year. And I think it was in part due to, you know, maybe not having as many farmers market opportunities or them not wanting to be on-site or at in-person events so we’ve, the food hub is an online way to sell cottage foods.”

A link to a recording of the webinar is available on the Alaska Food Policy Council’s website.

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