Starting a Food Business in Allegheny County Resource Guide


Pittsburgh is currently experiencing the emergence of its next generation of craft food pioneers. Establishing a specialty food business, however, is a daunting task to say the least. Eighty percent of new products fail in the first 2 years. Positioning your product correctly can help you be in the 20% that succeed. This business development guide aims to answer the basic questions that will help you turn your idea into a scalable startup that you can launch to market-whether it is a food product, a mobile food service, or a restaurant.

There’s no denying that the specialty food business is booming and helping to bring flavor to Pittsburgh’s burgeoning food landscape. This guide is intended to help all local food artisans navigate the complex food industry in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, including its technical and regulatory complexities, as you try to bring products from concept to commercialization. We share examples and scenarios from our own food startup, La Dorita dulce de leche, as well as those of our kitchen share members. We discuss the basics of commercializing a food concept, from understanding the FDA categories that your product falls within, as well as the rules and regulations that will apply to your product. With this guide we aim to act as a road map by compiling the most relevant information on licensing and regulations in an easy-to-understand format. Ultimately, it is vital that specialty food manufacturers be successful-not only do they utilize a number of Pennsylvania commodities, bringing additional revenue to farmers, but they also strengthen local economies.

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This food startup business resource guide was made possible through La Dorita Cooks’ partnership with Urban Innovation21 and a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (“DCED”).”