Before you spend any money on ingredients, equipment, renting a premises etc., make sure to do some market research in your local area. Experts estimate that 1% of the population in Ireland has coeliac disease but this figure includes those that are yet to be diagnosed.
Check out shops, supermarkets and health shops to see if they are willing to purchase products from you. Pay a visit to restaurants, delicatessens, cafés, nursing homes etc. and maybe offer to provide them with some complimentary samples of your products. If they sell, you may be on your way to getting an order from them.
Local farmer markets are also a good venue to sell gluten-free products. Look into how you can go about getting a stall at one close to you.
Make contact with your local Enviromental Health Officer. They will inspect your premises and will give you invaluable information with regard to legislation, cross-contamination issues and advice on testing for gluten-free products.
The FSAI have compiled Guidance Notes (red booklet) to help with labelling, understanding cross-contamination and provides information on gluten analysis. A hardcopy of this booklet is available from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
Once you have decided on the products that you intend to make source reliable suppliers for your ingredients. Ensure your ingredients are definitely gluten-free – look for a certificate of gluten analysis from the supplier.
The Food List will give you a comprehensive list of retail products that are gluten free. The Society also publishes a Catering Booklet which will provide information on catering foodstuffs plus gives contact details for suppliers.
Once you have your product developed, suppliers in place and premises inspected by the Environmental Health Officer you can submit your product for inclusion in the next Food List.