Food Entrepreneurship Program
With growing interest in fresh local food, food businesses in the US have changed for the past decade. More and more people are starting their own small-scale food production, and selling their products at farmers’ markets, restaurants, or other local businesses. Since the passage of the Cottage Food Law in Florida, the number of small, home-based businesses has also been on a steep increase. Running your own food business can be a rewarding and exciting experience; however, running a successful business requires more than a good idea. It requires detailed planning and hard work. It is estimated that 26,000 new food products are introduced to the market every year, but only about 10% of these products last more than a year. To run a successful business in this competitive food market, food entrepreneurs should have a good business plan and basic understanding about food processing, packaging, marketing, and regulatory requirements. UF/IFAS Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) Department’s Food Entrepreneurship Program can help get food entrepreneurs started on their journey to success. FSHN Food Entrepreneurship Program provides assistance through workshops and educational materials. Currently, the program focuses on 2 major areas: Florida food entrepreneurship including cottage food operation and practices at farmers’ market.
1. Florida Food Entrepreneurship
Our team can guide starting and early-stage entrepreneurs through various areas of running a food business, including state and federal regulatory requirements, product development, food safety issues, or finding food testing labs, commercial kitchens, co-packers or process authorities.
The program director, Dr. Soo Ahn (http://fshn.ifas.ufl.edu/main-menu-tab/directory/faculty/ahn/), has organized and offered a yearly workshop, “Introduction to Florida Food Entrepreneurship” since 2015. This workshop offers general information to start a food business in Florida, including food safety and quality, basic food science, business planning, product development, and the overview of state and federal regulations. Additionally, the newly added 2nd day program helps food entrepreneurs understand the concept of a food safety plan, which is required by new Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011, the new federal food safety law. This food safety program provides starting and early-stage food entrepreneurs with an overview of new regulatory requirement under the rule and the opportunity to develop a plan with a practice session.
Currently, UF/IFAS Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) department does not provide any food testing service in our facility; however, we do have a sensory testing facility and provide sensory test for your product. For details, contact Dr. Charlie Sims (http://fshn.ifas.ufl.edu/main-menu-tab/directory/faculty/sims/).
2. Farmers’ Market Program
With consumers’ growing interest in fresh food and support of local community, the number of farmers’ markets has significantly increased. In Florida, it is estimated that over 230 farmers’ markets operate in the state. Farmers’ markets are an important source of revenues for farmers of small-sized operations; however, the increasing popularity also raises food safety concerns for food sold at farmers’ markets. Learning best practices for food safety and developing appropriate control measures will improve the safety of food sold at farmers’ markets and increases their marketability.
Dr. Soo Ahn (http://fshn.ifas.ufl.edu/main-menu-tab/directory/faculty/ahn/), the program director, along with her team of speakers has provided Florida farmers’ market managers and vendors with information on current food safety issues associated with farmers’ markets, best food safety practices at both farms and markets, and Florida regulatory requirements for market vendors and cottage food operators through her annual workshop. In addition, the workshop discusses farmers’ market consumer trends and strategic planning for effective marketing.