Food safety

How to Sell Food On Amazon (Safely) in 2024: Your Complete Guide

Wondering how to sell food on Amazon? Let's start with an eye-opening fun fact about Amazon grocery sales.

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Wondering how to sell food on Amazon? Let's start with an eye-opening fun fact about Amazon grocery sales.

By 2025, online sales in the United states are predicted to capture approximately $100 billion of total retail grocery sales.

What's more, Amazon leads online grocery sellers with $8.2 billion in sales, followed by Walmart ($2.4 billion) and Kroger ($1.5 billion). Demand from people who are selling food on Walmart and Amazon as their retailers of choice is also rising, so there's no better time to delve into food entrepreneurship.

In this guide to selling food on Amazon, we're not just going to show you how to get approved as a seller, fulfill seller and product requirements, and list optimized products.

We're going to dive deep into the often-neglected aspects of food safety and compliance because trust is paramount. Your potential customers want to invest in your food business's promise of quality, safety, and reliability.

Key points covered:

  1. Selling food on Amazon presents significant growth opportunities, with online grocery sales projected to reach $100 billion by 2025.
  2. Compliance with Amazon's strict regulations, including food safety standards, is essential for success and to avoid penalties or account suspension.
  3. Getting approved to sell food on Amazon involves specific steps, including requesting approval and providing necessary documentation like GFSI or HACCP certificates.
  4. Meeting performance targets, such as order defect rate and late shipment rate, is crucial to maintain selling privileges in the Grocery & Gourmet Food category.
  5. Food products must be properly prepared, packaged, labeled, and stored, with expiration dates clearly marked on each unit.
  6. Refrigerated, frozen, and temperature-controlled foods require specific packaging and handling to ensure safety during transit.
  7. Utilizing food safety software like FoodDocs can streamline compliance efforts and ensure food safety standards are met.
  8. Accessing reliable suppliers and optimizing product listings are essential steps to increase visibility and drive sales on Amazon.
  9. Effective inventory management is crucial to avoid running out of stock, minimize storage costs, and maximize profitability as a food seller on Amazon.


But why focus on food safety when there are so many other aspects of selling on Amazon to consider? Simply put, it's non-negotiable. Amazon has strict and clear policies and regulations in place to protect consumers, and failure to adhere to these standards can result in severe consequences, from account suspension to legal liabilities. (We'll go into specific details below.)

This guide isn't just for beginners dipping their toes into the eCommerce waters; it's for seasoned sellers looking to fine-tune their operations and ensure they're not just meeting but exceeding industry standards. Let's dive in.

Amazon logo.

Can you sell food on Amazon?

Yes, you can sell food on Amazon. But there are some regulatory and compliance hoops you need to jump through first, including but not limited to: ungating your your seller account, and proving the safety and quality of your food products with Certificates of Analysis (COA) or certifications confirming that the manufacturer is FDA registered and uses a facility that's certified by a globally-recognized food safety standard.

These requirements can seem daunting but you can absolutely accomplish them with relative ease, especially with the help of food safety software and other tools. (It's one of the reasons we built FoodDocs!)

Food Safety Systems

Any steps you'll need to take to sell food on Amazon are also determined by whether you want to sell products that are refrigerated or ones that are shelf-stable.

Once you figure out the type of food products you want to sell on Amazon, they'll need to approve your account which will allow you to sell products in the grocery category.

Of course, your business decision to sell food on Amazon with good and not-so-good factors to consider. So let's take a look at what they are.

Selling food on Amazon: 5 benefits and 5 challenges

5 Benefits of selling food on Amazon

  1. Meeting your target market where they are: Amazon has become the place people go across the world to find products they need, fast. Amazon has built trust on your behalf, to a certain degree. You can tap into massive reach due to the size of the marketplace and growing industry, which is good for brand awareness.
  2. In the right food niche, you can have high sales volume: Not every food niche will have super high demand or search volumes. But with the right combination of product popularity and competitive price points, your sales can quickly scale.
  3. Access to built-in marketing tools: Amazon is invested in small and medium enterprise sellers to the tune of $15 billion and over 225 tools and services to help them grow successfully. A quick glance on Amazon's seller tools page will show resources for managing your business, driving sales, growing your brand, automating workflows, selling globally, free shipping software, and more.
  4. Support with food product stock storage: Whether you ship wholesale products or produce the food items yourself, Amazon removes the need to hold stock at your own facilities. Thanks to Amazon FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon), you can send food products to an Amazon fulfillment center and have them handle the shipping on your business's behalf.
  5. Amazon's product pages are designed to convert: You don't need to be a website designer conversion rate optimization specialist. Amazon is always optimization their product pages with the most important psychological principles of persuasion in mind like authority (e.g., Bestseller or Amazon's Choice badges), scarcity (e.g., only 10 items in stock), urgency (e.g., discount or deal expires in a fixed amount of time), and more!

5 Challenges of selling food on Amazon

  1. Competition can be fierce: In the same way that you can find an untapped and profitable niche, you can also find yourself in an incredibly competitive one. This can be especially true if you're buying wholesale and trying to sell them for a profit. Less so when you're producing your own original food products.
  2. Perishable food items can pose a greater risk: By definition, perishable food products have a finite shelf life because they're preservation depends on the right temperature, humidity, and time. Failing to safely store, handle, and ship perishable goods (e.g., canned or packaged goods as well as foods and beverages) can lead to poorer quality, spoilage, and increase the risk of foodborne illnesses.
  3. Competitors can undercut your prices: Even if it is not profitable for some businesses, you can run into scenarios where a competitor (or multiple competitors) are trying to price their products the lowest in order to win the Amazon purchase. Some businesses
  4. Selling fees can be uneconomical: From shipping fees to other costs incurred by optional tools like Amazon Ads or Fulfillment By Amazon, the end price could reduce your profit on every product sold. Additional costs including shipping fees ultimately depend on whether your business fulfills orders itself, uses FBA to handle customer service and logistics.
  5. Amazon fines for shipments that don't meet the on-time in-full (OTIF) average: The seller will then be charged a fine for not arriving in-full. If the order shows up late or not at all, the seller will be charged an additional fine for not being on time.

Now that you've decided the benefits outweigh the challenges involved in selling food on Amazon and you know what want to sell, you need to get approved.

How to get approved to sell food on Amazon

There are a few steps involved in getting approved to sell food on Amazon, but it's fairly straightforward. The reason for the additional steps is because the Grocery and Gourmet Foods category is restricted until your Amazon seller account gets approved.

And it makes sense why — obviously food safety has more risks than mailing notebooks or gym shorts. Here's what you need to do.

1. Request approval to sell in the Grocery and Gourmet Food category

Before hopping into your Seller Central dashboard, grab the ASIN of a grocery product and then go into your account to "Add a product".

You'll be prompted to select "Apply to sell" and right after that "Request approval".

How long does it take to get approved to sell food on Amazon?

If you have a positive selling history with Amazon from other products you've sold, there's a chance you could be approved automatically. But more often than not, it can take up to a few days.

2. Getting ungated to sell food on Amazon

When it comes to selling food on Amazon, they want to know what kind of business you are:

  • Reseller or Distributor (i.e., wholesale or retail arbitrage)
  • Manufacturer (i.e., private label brand)
  • Both

You'll also need to submit one or more purchase invoices from your manufacturer or distributor to prove that you're legitimately holding (or going to be holding) the products you want to sell. Your documents must:

  • Be dated within 180 days of your application
  • Include your name and address (make sure these match your selling account details)
  • Include the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor
  • Show the combined purchase of at least 10 units
  • Omit pricing information (optional)

The individual approving your account might actually contact your food product vendors, so make sure all the details are correct before submitting the documents.

Screenshot of the Amazon Seller Central dashboard where you submit food business details and compliance documents to sell in the gated categories.

In addition to your documents, you'll also need to provide photos of your food product and its packaging once you receive them. These photos must:

  • Be live (i.e., not computer-generated)
  • Clearly display all sides of the product and/or its packaging
  • Include product name and/or model number
  • Include name and physical location of the business or manufacturer
  • Reflect the country's local language (for important information)

Troubleshooting your rejected food seller application

Even after you complete those steps, providing all the proper double-checked documentation on your end, there are times when you don't get approved.

Be encouraged and don't panic! Especially if you've done everything by Amazon's book. Simply re-submit your application again (and again, if necessary). It's unfortunate but if you persist, your food business will benefit greatly from Amazon's ecosystem and the reach it can give you.

So, you've taken care of the logistics of signing up and readying your account. It's time to make sure you meet all of the seller and product requirements.

Amazon's Seller and Product Requirements for everyone selling Grocery & Gourmet Foods

We mentioned above that Amazon's regulations and policies for food are more stringent than other categories. As a result, there are specific things you need to do as a food business to stay compliant.

Download our free poster of Amazon Seller and Product Requirements for Selling Food

Safely packaged cut of meat going into an Amazon box to be shipped.

Amazon food seller requirements

There are a few performance targets you need to meet in order to sell food on Amazon:

  • Order defect rate: <1%
  • Pre-fulfillment cancel rate: <2.5%
  • Late shipment rate: <4%

Amazon food product requirements

When it comes to food safety, this is what's expected of sellers:

  • Food must be properly prepared, packaged, sealed, and labeled.
  • You must have a license or approval from the relevant government agency for the products you plan to sell.
  • Your products and business operations must comply with federal and state laws, including laws not described in Amazon policies.
  • Sell all Grocery & Gourmet Food products as new, not used.
  • Food is viewed as date-sensitive. It must have an expiration date permanently marked on every unit unless the product is exempt, including every unit that is shipped, and every unit displayed for sale.
  • Keep the Fulfilment Center (FC) shelf life details up to date for grocery products. In the inventory file template, set the value of the is_expiration_dated_product field to "true". The FC shelf life is the length of time a product is sellable or fit to be eaten.
  • Label all products covered by federal, state, and local laws in English.
  • Enclose and seal food in packaging suitable for shipping, keeping food from becoming contaminated, spoilage, melted, and damaged.
  • You must ship food with enough of its shelf life remaining. You must not remove or alter the expiration date.
  • Expiration dates on multi-pack packaging must match the earliest expiration date of the products inside when you're selling multi-packs.
  • You must use the manufacturer's UPS code when listing Grocery and Gourmet Food products.

Quality manager looking at food product inventory for his Amazon business.

Amazon seller requirements for refrigerated, frozen, and temperature-controlled food, and raw agricultural commodities

  • Refrigerated, frozen, and raw agricultural commodities must be securely packaged for shipping, ensuring temperature safety during transit according to specified limits.
  • Certain foods require temperature control to maintain quality and effectiveness. For example, chocolate may melt, and the potency of vitamin D supplements could diminish if exposed to improper temperatures. Therefore, temperature regulation is crucial to uphold quality and efficacy standards.
  • Raw agricultural commodities without expiration dates must possess an acceptable shelf life and adhere to quality criteria regarding ripeness, mold prevention, pest control, and contamination avoidance.

Fridge temperature log on FoodDocs
Digitize your fridge and freezer temperature checks with FoodDocs to make logging temperatures easy, accurate, and organized.

Validating and verifying the chill chain

To ensure food safety and quality, businesses must be able to confidently control the temperature of refrigerated food, frozen food, and raw agricultural commodities.

Failing to keep food products at or within their temperature range (see the table below) could result in Amazon suppressing them, or worse, suspending your seller account.

  • With validation, sellers must validate the chill chain (i.e., show how the temperature would be maintained in worst-case conditions).
  • With verification, sellers must have a verification program that regularly confirms that products arrive at the targeted temperature in real business conditions.

As a general rule of thumb — just like your taxes — always keep your validation and verification records store safely and, ideally, digitally so that you can promptly share them with Amazon and food safety regulators upon request.

Preview of the FoodDocs app where you can use the Monitoring feature to verify food safety tasks that your staff have completed.Easily verify monitoring tasks in the FoodDocs app. The timestamp displays the entry's time, date, and person who added it; the green batch proves that this entry is verified and cannot be further changed.

What are Amazon's Grocery and Gourmet Foods General Temperature Requirements?

Food type Conforming temperature
Refrigerated meat

28-41° F / -2.2-5 ° C

Refrigerated poultry 28-41° F / -2.2-5 ° C
Refrigerated fish and crustacea (crab, shrimp, lobster) 32-41° F / 0-5 ° C
Refrigerated processed dairy products or liquid eggs 32-41° F / 0-5 ° C
Refrigerated processed foods 32-41° F / 0-5 ° C
All refrigerated cut fruits, vegetables, and ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables 32-41° F / 0-5 ° C
Refrigerated shellfish (clams, mussels, scallops, oysters) 32-45° F / 0-7.2 ° C
Refrigerated shell eggs or fluid milk 32-45° F / 0-7.2 ° C
Frozen foods <10° F / <-12.2° C
Whole, uncut, not ready-to-eat produce 32-65° F / 0-18.3 ° C
Bananas 56-64° F / 13.3-17.7 ° C

Product listing requirements

Your food business must follow listing standards for any of the food products you sell in order to stay get and stay compliant with Amazon's Grocery and Gourmet Foods category policies. This includes showing:

  • Any approved dietary or allergen-free claims (e.g., dairy-free, kosher, organic) on product labels.
  • Accurate Price Per Unit (PPU) data for both existing and new product listings. For foods like chocolate (solid), protein powder (powder) or honey (viscous substance), the unit of measure should always be "Ounce". The unit of measure for juice or soft drinks, for example, should always be Fl Oz (fluid ounce). So, if you sell 16 ounces of chocolate for $8.00, the PPU for one ounce will be $0.50.

Amazon's enforcement actions for Grocery and Gourmet Food sellers

Just because you get approved does not mean you'll stay approved. Just like food safety certifications, you can get a good rating one inspection, but if the next one fails there can be dire consequences.

In Amazon's case, that's being disallowed from selling food on Amazon. Specifically:

  • You'll have to complete a root cause investigation and take corrective actions to stop it happening again.
  • Amazon might conduct periodic audits to check chill chain compliance.
  • If you don't maintain compliance, Amazon can remove your selling privileges.

Top 2 ways to stay compliance as someone selling food on Amazon

That was a lot of information. But as a food business wanting to expand their operations to include selling on Amazon, it's all necessary information.

While many sellers become concerned with what selling tools they should use, we cannot understate how powerful an all-in-one food safety software will be for your business. An effective food safety software will help you get and stay compliant.

In fact, implementing one helps you be able to focus on the marketing, scaling, and customer service side of things because you won't need to spend hours on tasks like temperature checks and filling out receiving logs with pen and paper.

FoodDocs infographic showing the four tips for choosing the right food safety software for your business.

1. Set up a proper Food Safety System software

The easiest way to set up a proper food safety management system is to use FoodDocs . With FoodDocs' software, you’ll get all the food safety compliance documents you need to start selling on Amazon, including:

  • Basic food safety documentation (standards such GFSI, HACCP, HARPC, ISO, etc.): The FoodDocs food safety software is fully customizable. While it comes equipped with a HACCP plan builder, you'll have the ability to customize the system according to whichever food safety monitoring and traceability tasks you need in order stay compliant with your desired standard(s).
  • Daily monitoring desktop and mobile app: Don't rely on paper records for the long-term. Using a digital food safety app such as FoodDocs will streamline your business's food safety compliance and save you time on monitoring. Once you've completed the account setup process in the browser app, your personalized food safety app is ready to go and you can download the mobile app for iOS or Android.
  • Shelf-life date management: Add shelf-life information such as dates and times to your food products so that you and your team can save time on monitoring. FoodDocs lets you set up a digital recipe book and automatically calculate all of your products’ shelf-lives.
  • Packaging rules: Packaging and food product labeling requires key information, including product name, ingredient list, allergen information, nutrition facts panel, and manufacturer or distributor information. FoodDocs platform stores this information for you. You can also upload custom packaging instructions as a reminder for yourself and staff to reduce human error and create consistent customer experiences with every food order.
  • All-in-one traceability: FoodDocs' Traceability system will track your ingredients and food items throughout your production supply chain. This matters as an Amazon food manufacturer because you need to have visibility into your products' movement through all production stages.

Preview of the FoodDocs browser and mobile app synced up.


2. Get the approval from the relevant government agency

Amazon doesn't necessarily require a business license for you to become a seller. However in the United States, for example, if you want to sell food, many small and medium enterprises need a combination of licenses and permits from both federal and state agencies to legally run their business. This will vary from country to country and state to state.

That said, Amazon has requested sellers in the Grocery and Gourmet Foods category to provide, for example, a current GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) or HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) certificate.

If you're unable to provide the compliance document in question, Amazon can remove your listing and even temporarily or permanently suspend your store.

One member of a Seller Central forum shared the requirements they received from Amazon:

You must submit all required documents. Your products cannot be approved if some documents are missing.

Document must meet the following requirements:

Current GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative) certificate(s) for the manufacturer from an accredited 3rd party certification body for the ASIN OR current HACCP (Hazard Critical Control Point) certificate(s) for the manufacturer from an accredited 3rd party certification body for the ASIN.

  1. I authorise Amazon to inspect the documents and information, and share them with authorities upon request. Providing fake documentation could lead to closure of my account.

  2. I confirm that I have read the Help page on food supplements and acknowledge my responsibilities.

By ticking this box, I acknowledge and accept all the conditions above.

Another business selling pet supplements had their account reinstated only after they submitted two COAs: the first from the product manufacturer and the second from the ISO-certified laboratory in the United States.

Stories like these ones emphasize just how critical food safety is for all types of Amazon sellers. Save yourself the headache and proactively obtain food safety compliance documents, then upload them during your category approval request.

  1. For Resellers or Distributors, make sure you can readily access or request the food safety certifications necessary from your manufacturer(s).
  2. For Manufacturers, make sure you are using a Food Safety Management solution with built-in food traceability that allows you to provide any data requested from Amazon or regulators. That could be food safety monitoring logs, traceability logs, ingredient or product recall information, etc.

Save time with an all-in-one Traceability System from FoodDocs.

3 Other types of helpful tools that will help you sell food on Amazon

Once you have food safety compliance covered, here are a few more types of tools that will help you simplify operations, stay organized, and scale your business.

You can absolutely do this stuff manually, but time is money. So consider exploring investing in Amazon selling software to make your food business more efficient, for example:

1. Software to source suppliers

Finding reliable suppliers will be the difference between high quality and consistency of your food products, or the polar opposite. Supplier sourcing software helps streamline the process of identifying and vetting potential suppliers, ensuring they meet not just your personal standards for quality, reliability, and compliance but regulatory standards, too.

The best tools will provide access to extensive supplier databases, facilitate communication with suppliers, and offer features for comparing quotes and negotiating contracts.

Some resources to check out are:

2. Product listing optimization software

Optimizing your Amazon food product listings will help increase your brand's visibility, drive more, and maximize sales. Product listing optimization software helps you create compelling product listings that use the best keywords, remove the fluff from listing info, and make your listings eye-catching.

These tools often offer keyword research, competitor analysis, and automated optimization features to help you rank higher in search results and convert more visitors into customers.

Some resources to check out are:

3. Inventory management software

As your food business grows, being able to manage your inventory becomes increasingly important. It'll help you avoid going out of stock, minimize storage costs, and maximize profitability. Inventory management software helps you track inventory levels, forecast demand, and optimize replenishment processes to ensure you always have the right amount of stock on hand.

Amazon has their very own built-in tools, but there are others that are also great for managing multiple warehouses, setting reorder points, and generating reports to analyze sales trends and inventory performance.

Some resources to check out are:

By leveraging these software tools, you can streamline your operations, optimize your product listings, and effectively manage your inventory to drive growth and success as a food seller on Amazon.

Now you know the most important aspects of how to sell food on Amazon

Amazon offers significant opportunities for growth and success in the food business space. Remember: online grocery sales are projected to reach $100 billion by 2025, with other estimates being even higher.

While the process involves navigating regulatory hurdles and ensuring compliance with Amazon's stringent policies, you can't deny the benefits of reaching a vast audience and leveraging built-in marketing tools.

Investing in food safety compliance, leveraging specialized software tools, and staying vigilant in meeting seller and product requirements will enable food businesses to build and scale their brands on Amazon and capitalize on the growing demand for online grocery shopping.

Frequently asked questions about selling food on Amazon

Is digital monitoring compliant and acceptable for food safety inspectors? (from FoodDocs FAQ)

Yes, digital food safety monitoring is compliant with regulations and acceptable for inspectors.

In a December 2023 issue of the journal Food Control, competent authorities (CA) across 15 European Union countries reported that they’ve incorporated digital environments to some extent during their food safety inspections. In fact, “62.5% (55/88) used a digital environment during inspections, the majority to standardize data collection and reporting. CAs autotomize processes through digital technologies related to the management of official control and generation of inspection results, but to a lesser extent to automatize decision-making during inspections.”

Furthermore, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Compliance Guidelines for Use of Video or Other Electronic Monitoring or Recording Equipment, it states: “If an establishment determines and designates a video or other electronic monitoring or recording equipment to record the required HACCP information, this information is to be included as part of its recordkeeping system description.”

The Government of Canada's article about record keeping for your preventive control plan also confirms that, based on their definition of "record", digital food safety records are compliant and acceptable: "A record is a type of document that permanently captures information demonstrating that an action was taken. It can be in either hard copy (printed) or electronic (digital) format. The information can take various forms such as text, figures, graphics, data pictures and videos."

Are any particular food items or beverages prohibited by Amazon?

Yes, there are particular food and beverage items that Amazon prohibits. Some of the most popular ones are:

  • Products containing horse meat
  • Goat's milk infant formula
  • HIPP formula and milk products

As a general rule, Amazon prohibits products that don't meet federal food inspection or import requirements, products that don't meet Food & Drug Administration (FDA) premarketing requirements, and products that don't meet California’s Farm Animal Confinement Initiative requirements. There are other specific food products, both foreign and domestic, that Amazon prohibits and you can find the full list here.

Does Amazon allow items that expire quickly?

No, Amazon will not allow items that expire quickly. If you're using Amazon FBA, food products must arrive at their facility with a minimum remaining shelf life of over 90 days. Amazon will dispose of your products if it's within 50 days of expiry, for example, even if it isn’t past the expiration date. The strict policy is to protect customers from receiving and potentially consuming expired food products that could result in foodborne illness.

In terms of what defines an expiration date, Amazon treats "sell by," "use by," "best by", "best before," and "best if used by" dates to be the same thing.

How to approve multiple (food) orders at once?

You can approve multiple food orders at once in three steps:

  1. Navigate to your Approve Orders page.
  2. Review your orders list containing the purchase details (i.e., order number, requisitioner, order date, and values).
  3. Select the checkbox for each order, and select "Approve selected"; you'll receive a confirmation of the actions taken.

Is selling food products on Amazon profitable?

Selling food products on Amazon can be profitable, but there are many factors that will impact positive or negative results as an Amazon seller. The profit margin for food products in Amazon's Grocery and Gourmet Foods will vary greatly depending on your niche, operational overhead, shipping fees, and more.


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