UMaine Extension offers new resource for food entrepreneurs

Orono, Maine – University of Maine Cooperative Extension has launched a new online resource designed to be particularly useful to aspiring or existing food manufacturers wanting to produce specialty food products.

The new website, Resources for Food Entrepreneurs, was created by UMaine Extension regional small business educator and Extension professor Louis Bassano; Extension food science specialist and associate professor of food science Beth Calder; and Extension business and economics specialist and professor of economics James McConnon.

“Food-based enterprises and manufacturers require a wide range of information to help them successfully develop and market their products to consumers through various retail outlets,” says Bassano, who recently completed a sabbatical focused on the specialty food industry, including key resources that would be helpful for Maine food businesses.

Nationally, specialty foods are a $120 billion industry, with over three-quarters of the sector devoted to retail specialty foods and the remainder to food service. Specialty food sales at retail grew to $94 billion in 2015, a 19.7 percent jump since 2013, driven by product innovations and wider availability of specialty foods through mass market outlets, according to the Specialty Food Association.

The website includes information about Recipe to Market, UMaine Extension’s educational program designed for individuals wanting to start a specialty food business. Links are provided to state licensing agencies, specialized testing services and a commercially licensed kitchen available for rent at UMaine.

Food entrepreneurs will find useful information on business planning, including samples of business plans for various food enterprises; marketing; financing options; food brokers, co-packers and distributors; trade associations; trade shows; and publications.
For more information, contact Louis Bassano, 207.255.3345, louis.bassano@maine.edu.