If you’re not a a regular reader of the blog, let’s get you up to speed… I’m starting a popcorn business! At first, I plan generate all my sales at events using a concession trailer similar to kettle corn vendors you’ve seen at little craft fairs and pumpkin patches.

This business plan template outlines my estimated cost to get started, where I source supplies, the permits I’ll need, where I’m planning to vend. In other words, I’m sharing everything you would want included in a food business you intend to operate!

Since this is a real business I’ll be adding as much detail as possible. I strongly urge you do the same if you are thinking about starting a popcorn business too. If you want to keep tabs on this business, don’t forget to signup for the Food Business Startup Kit here to get regular progress reports. You can also explore my pitch deck here that offers a condensed version of the business plan.

about us popcorn business

About us section of pitch deck.

Here’s the outline of my business plan so you can navigate to the section that interests you the most. If you’re interested in starting a popcorn business, I also recommend listening to our audio lesson How to Start a Profitable Part-time Kettle Corn Business. 

Executive summary

The goal of the executive summary is gives anyone who reads the document a crib notes version of the business. The executive summary should be able to stand on it’s own and explain to potential investors or family members how you expect to make money.

Most business should be able to explain exactly what they do in only a few sentences. The rest of the document is reserved for the detailed operation of the business. Here’s my executive summary for a small popcorn business:

Temecula Popcorn Company is a small-batch popcorn maker with unique flavors that serves at popular locations like wineries, farmer’s markets, and other live events. As the brand grows locally, we plan to test market selling our products in local grocers.

Product: 

This is our rotating menu of small batch popcorn flavors. Each popcorn comes in a large size clear plastic bag. Tentative retail prices are listed below. 

  • Traditional Kettle Corn – $6
  • Parmesan Rosemary – $6
  • Garlic Herb – $6
  • Everything Bagel – $6
  • Salt & Vinegar – $6
  • Citrus Popcorn – $6
  • Pumpkin Spice – $6 (Fall Only)

Market: 

We will serve customers who visit events in the Temecula / Murrieta on weekends. The combined population of these two cities is approximately 230,000 according to Wikipedia. On weekends visitors to this region attracts an even larger group of people that come to the area to visit over 40 local wineries and attend special events. This market offers Temecula Popcorn Company more than enough potential customers to operate profitably.

Competition: 

There are numerous local competitors offering kettle corn at events. These specific competitors are detailed later this this business plan. We plan to differentiate our product through a combination of unique popcorn flavors (like Pumpkin Spice and Salt & Vinegar) in addition to better branding that uses imagery of hot air balloons (a common sight in this area) and consistent customer service.

Management: 

Temecula Popcorn Company will be operated by the owner in the early days. In the future, we will explore hiring part-time staff for operations and to expand locations.

Funding needed: 

We will require about $40,000 in capital to be open for business. This will cover the costs of purchasing a custom built popcorn trailer, all the initial inventory, and business licenses. These funds will be acquired through a combination of personal savings and loans. No outside investors will be leveraged to start the company.

Financial projections:

We anticipate paying off all business debt within 12 – 16 months of opening. We anticipate hitting this mark even with modest revenue expectations and operating on weekends only. After paying off all debt, we will consider reinvesting profit into growth for the company.

Mission statement

The mission statement is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company. For many new businesses it’s important to develop a mission statement that goes beyond making money. A broader vision that includes a specific social cause can be helpful in motivating yourself, employees, and can be used as a creative way to gain more press coverage for a startup.

My mission statement is below:

Our mission is to provide the highest quality, small-batch popcorn with creative flavors. We continually think of ways to create consistent, memorable, and fun customer interactions. 

Our mission also includes being a good member of the community by donating to and helping fundraising efforts of deserving local organizations or people.

Market analysis

Industry overview: There are 15 billion quarts of popcorn consumed annually in the United States according to The Popcorn Board. The industry has a market value of $2 billion with the ready-to-eat products continuing to grow in demand. This ready-to-eat popcorn could be a future growth opportunity for this business as well. This is a product with strong consumer demand and growth opportunities.

Target market: At first we will generate sales from individuals and families that attend local events where we vend. Our market has over 40 wineries within 15 miles, numerous farmer’s markets and flea markets where we can vend regularly. As we begin generating more sales, we will work to identify a more specific target market.

Competition: We’ve conducted a competition analysis of other popcorn vendors. Established players in the local market serve traditional kettle corn without innovative flavors. The current competitors do not offer any unique brand experience either.

Pop’n Mama Kettle Corn – Kettle corn tent that has been around since the 1990s in the area. Serves traditional kettle corn only from a tent. Sells large bags from $7 – $10 depending on event. 

Sweet Country Kettle Corn – Popcorn in a tent that vends at a variety of local markets. This business offers a variety of popcorn flavors. 

Kettle Masters – Traditional kettle corn from a tent. No special brand differentiator.  

There are numerous other smaller popcorn vendors that offer traditional kettle corn from a tent. 

Pricing and forecast: 

We expect to sell popcorn at $5.00 per bag with a goal of hitting 100 sales per day on average. This will result in $40,000 in gross sales in year one assuming 80 vending days.

sales goal

Our goal is to generate $500 in sales each day vending.

Management structure

For most startup businesses like food trucks or small kettle corn tents, you don’t need to spend much time fine tuning a management structure. If you plan to own / operate the business then the buck begins and ends with you.

As you grow the business, you can begin to evaluate different roles to bring in. One of the best first hires would be a part-time person that could sell popcorn at events on weekends. This would allow you to take time off, while generating sales at a proven location. Another option is to hire a bookkeeper part-time to help with tax filing.

Related Reading: Download My Food Business Model Canvas with Template

Product line and service

popcorn menu

My first-draft menu.

This is our rotating menu of small batch popcorn flavors. Each popcorn comes in a large size clear plastic bag. Tentative retail prices are listed below. 

  • Traditional Kettle Corn – $6
  • Parmesan Rosemary – $6
  • Garlic Herb – $6
  • Everything Bagel – $6
  • Salt & Vinegar – $6
  • Citrus Popcorn – $6
  • Pumpkin Spice – $6 (Fall Only)

Sales and marketing

Our primary way of generating sales and marketing the business will be serving at live events where families gather. The most important first step will be to identify vending spots that are profitable for our products.

General ideas include wineries, flea markets, farmer’s markets, and fundraising events where we can do revenue splits with the organizers. We also hope to vend at seasonal events like pumpkin patches and other seasonal celebrations. Here are the specific places we plan to test.

vending locations

List of vending locations.

Here is a map where this vending spots are located. As you can see these opportunities are located nearby each other.

vending map

Map of vending locations.

While at live events, we also hope to establish a strong social media marketing presence. By attending a lot of live events we will have plenty of opportunities to take photos and videos in fun locations and share those online. Overtime we hope to build a local following that we can use to help share our location and cross promote the events we’re working. We will be focused on Instagram as our primary social network initially.

Funding request

We will require $40,000 in startup capital to open this business. These funds will cover buying the popcorn trailer, initial inventory of popcorn, equipment, and licenses.

  • $20,000 personal savings
  • $20,000 traditional bank loan

I hope to be able to pay off the loan and be debt free after 12 months of operation.

Financial projections

Vending Days per YearProjected Revenue per DayProjected Sales per Year 1
80$500$40,000

If you’re seeking financial backing from investors, you’ll want to provide 5 year financial projections at a minimum. But for a self-funded business, a shorter time frame like this is sufficient.

I still recommend making basic financial estimates even if you don’t plan to bring in investors. This will help you determine if the business is worth starting based on the current business plan.

Appendix

This is where you can insert additional information about your business. Personally, I like to include copies of documents like permits, licenses, and details about what equipment and supplies I plan to buy. This creates a one-stop  location for finding out where to source popcorn kernels or bags of salt in case I forget. This is a free-form area of the business plan so don’t worry about the correct formatting here.

Identify Food Source of Ingredients

50 LB Bag of Popcorn – $19.49 + Shipping

https://www.webstaurantstore.com/reist-popcorn-hi-pop-50-lb-large-butterfly-popcorn-kernels/380POPBFLYMD.html

50 LB Bag of Carnival King Mushroom Popcorn – $20.49 + Shipping

https://www.webstaurantstore.com/carnival-king-50-lb-extra-large-mushroom-popcorn-kernels/382POPMSH50.html

50 lb Bag of Conagra $26.99 + Shipping

https://www.webstaurantstore.com/conagra-magic-mushroom-large-mushroom-popcorn-kernels-50-lb/380POPMAGIC.html

10 LB Bag of Popcorn Salt – 6.59 + Shipping. 

https://www.webstaurantstore.com/carnival-king-10-lb-popcorn-salt/382SALTPOP10.html

25 LB Bag of Sugar $30.99

http://www.nebraskapopcorn.com/bulk-bagged.html

This is the gold standard of popcorn kernels according to my mentor. I’ll be reaching out to this company to get current pricing for a 50 lb bag mushroom kernels and estimated shipping. My understanding is I’ll need to order by the pallet from this company to have popcorn shipped the farm in from Nebraska.

Popping Equipment

Salt or Seasoning Shakers 

10 oz Stainless Steel Shaker with Handle

(2) 22 oz Stainless Steel Dredge Salt Shakers no Handle

Aprons

Caldo Linen Kitchen Apron – This is a much more expensive and or premium option for an apron. But I also really like the way it looks. I plan to spring for the extra bucks to order this apron for myself. After all if you look good, you feel good. I’m also telling myself this small touch will elevate the appearance of my brand.

12 Pack of White Aprons – I’ll need a few of these anyway as aprons will fade over time.  Might as well stock up at an affordable price.

Black Aprons 2 Pack – I’m on the fence right now and might purchase some black aprons. My thinking is these will be easier to keep clean. They can also be picked up in bulk for only a few dollars per unisex apron.

I plan to pair the apron with a basic color t-shirt underneath. This will serve as the uniform for employees operating the business (AKA: ME).

Food Storage Containers

You can’t have open bags of popcorn or sugar laying around your popcorn trailer. As a result, need to order commercial-grade food storage containers with lids to seal any opened product. We are looking at either 18 quart or 22 quart sizes. The 18 quart clear storage container should be able to store an entire 25 lb bag of sugar or popcorn kernels in it. I’m planning to buy four – six of these.

Rubbermaid Commercial Containers 

Cambro Food Storage Container

Propane Tanks

I plan to purchase two 40 lb propane tanks to pop the corn. This is twice the size of a regular 20 lb propane tank you pick up at a gas station for your BBQ grill. A 40 lb propane tank should be able to cook 350 pounds of popcorn. You can order an empty 40 lb propane tank just about anywhere including Walmart or Lowe’s according to their websites.

Portable Vending Concession Cart Sink

I will be operating this popcorn business in the great state of California. The health code requirements here to vend in public are higher here than in a lot of other states. As a result, I will be investing in this small mobile, 4 compartment sink. This includes a convenient hand washing station too. Installing this sink means I shouldn’t need to mess around with plumbing inside the unit since everything will be self contained.

http://www.allgreenmanufacturing.com/index.php?product=3

Fire Extinguisher 

I plan to contact the local health department to see what size and brand of a fire extinguisher they recommend. This is a piece of safety something I will be cutting corners on to save a couple bucks.

Protective Face Shield

I don’t want a wild piece of popcorn flying out of the kettle and hitting me in the eye. For safety purposes I will be buying at least two of these clear face shields: https://www.amazon.com/Sellstrom-S30120-Advantage-All-Purpose-Polycarbonate/dp/B074P6Y9GG/ref=lp_393327011_1_4?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1582732366&sr=1-4

Download templates

Here are the templates you can use to help start your business in PDF or PowerPoint. You can also copy and paste this information into a Word Document for you to edit and make your own.

If you’re serious about starting a popcorn business, be sure to sign up for our Food Business Startup Kit. This is a free subscription where we share interviews with proven food entrepreneurs and you get our business model canvas for free when you enroll.

Want to start your own food business?

Hey! 👋I’m Brett Lindenberg, the founder of Food Truck Empire.

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