Sunday, August 08, 2010

Recommendation to new food entrepreneurs

Many people are coming to the idea of food entrepreneurship for the first time. Owning and running an artisan food business is a compelling idea.

The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen has many different entry points where people can enter the system and experiment with ways to grow an existing food business or start a new one.

I have a strong recommendation for new food entrepreneurs. KISS (Keep it simple, Sam).

Creating a recipe that is a simple dry-mix is the easiest, least risky, and least costly way for new food entrepreneurs to utilize a commercial kitchen. You can always get fancier and perhaps more profitable as you learn, but you've got to survive to get there and dry-mix recipes offer a relatively low-risk way to start your enterprise.

As anyone who has been around my presentations about 'best ways to use the Kitchen' will know that I am a big fan of the dehydration step for entrepreneurs new to food processing.

It is the simplest, and among the least expensive ways to preserve food, including nutritional values.

New food entrepreneurs should strongly consider utilizing the Innovation Kitchen through this dehydrator.

If you can dehydrate a signature ingredient - perhaps an heirloom vegetable or fruit - you've made it safe to store as a 'shelf stable' product. That means it can be displayed on a store shelf with no additional support such as refrigeration for perishable items.

Once you've got your signature ingredient safely stabilized you can create a mix using you signature veggie or fruit or herbs in many unique dry-mix recipes. A dry-mix recipe would be a shelf stable package of dry soup mix, or a baked dessert mix, or a waffle mix and so on.

The label can then be printed with your logo and recipe name in a way that highlights 'Featuring (Your Name) Berries!'

I think this path is especially suited for family farms who would like to market their farm under its own brand, featuring its special ingredients.

Dry-mix production can be set up to do short production runs so the investment in first test-batches can be minimized. It is also significantly easier to get your product accepted at stores if it is a shelf stable dry-mix product.

This idea of dehydration of a key ingredient, then used in a dry-mix recipe is exactly what I would do first.

For new food entrepreneurs, this dehydration/dry-mix step gives you maximum value for the least cost.

Dry-mix recipes are almost endless, serving the needs of every meal and every moment in between. There is also the entire world of dry-mix marinades and rubs and seasonings, and on and on. I think there is also a great potential for creating many new dry-mix recipes for all kinds of new uses we haven't even thought of yet.

If you are a new food entrepreneur thinking about the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, dehydration and dry-mix recipes are paths I'd recommend.

Of course, any products in the existing dry-mix line of delicious Papa Pat's Farmhouse Recipes can be private labeled and resold throughout the U.S. If you are a distributor or would like to learn how your organization can utilize this program please get in touch.

Speaking of labels, we are setting up a private-label program right now for organizations that would like to distribute a delicious dry-mix package of Creamy Potato Soup as a business or holiday gift. The label can be printed with your custom message. This recipe is from Papa Pat's Farmhouse Recipes and is one of their very best sellers. The label will also indicate that your gift helps support the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, The Hodan Center and our Iowa County EDC.

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

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