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April 1st, 2014

Cottage Food Industry Vendor Information 101

by Maryland Farmers Market Association

The Cottage Food Industry plays an important role in farmers markets throughout the state of Maryland.  In fact, Cottage Food Industry Vendors are only allowed to sell their products at farmers markets, public events, or events where raw produce is also being sold. Revenue made from selling Cottage Food Industry products must not exceed $25,000 a year. Licensing requirements and permit procedures for Cottage Food Industry Vendors vary by the product or products being produced by the vendor.  

But what exactly constitutes a Cottage Food Industry Vendor? Cottage Food Industry Vendors predominantly make and sell baked goods-such as bagels, pastries, brownies, breads, and cakes. Cottage Food Industry Vendors may also sell non-baked goods such as honey (as long as its unflavored) or jams and jellies.

Cottage Food Industry vendors are required to label the products that they sell. The label on each Cottage Food Industry product should contain, at minimum, the following information:

  • Name and address of producer and/or distributor
  • Count, fluid measurement, or net weight depending on the product
  • Identity of product
  • Ingredient list (largest to smallest)

Below is a breakdown of several different types of Cottage Industry Products, the requirements for selling them through various outlets, and regulations regarding limits in revenues and sales.

Type of Cottage Food Industry Product

Examples of Product

Licenses, Regulations, and Permit Requirements

Baked Goods

Non-hazardous fillings or toppings such as pies, turnovers, fruit tarts, etc. No cream cheese, custards, or other potentially hazardous fillings, glazes, cream cheeses, etc.

Can be sold at market or from farmer without a license. Different regulations apply to sell at restaurants and/or if sales are over $40,000 per year.

Baked Goods

Potentially hazardous toppings that need to be refrigerated or stored such as cream cheese, custard based fillings, glazes, etc.

Processing License from Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH).

Honey (without added flavors)

Honey without any processing or additives.

No license required-honey is considered a raw agricultural product.

Honey (with added flavors)

Honey with flavors or other additional processing.

On farm home processing license from DHMH if sales are less than $40,000. Processing license from DHMH if more than $40,000 in sales.

Jams or Jellies

Made with level of 4.6 pH or less such as apples, apricots, blackberries peaches, strawberries, etc.

No license required to sell directly at market. Different regulations apply to sell at restaurants and/or if sales are over $40,000 per year.

For more specific information regarding the regulations and permits required to sell Cottage Food Industry products at market, please consult the chart below or visit the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) information guide for “Processing and Selling Value Added Food Products in Maryland”.

And be sure to check out our “Find a Regulation” tool as well – which goes beyond state level and includes county level regulations for managing and selling at farmers markets.

About the Author Maryland Farmers Market Association