Monday, September 23, 2013

"We just need more farmers"

Smaller scale food processing plants are needed to grow new farms and to help existing farms diversify.

Without safe, legal processing facilities there is no way new farms and new foods can reach the market efficiently.

Their first hurdle is getting into the game financially.  The expense of starting can be daunting.

My pal Terra Brockman is quoted in a recent article on this subject:

"Younger farmers are having difficulty breaking into agriculture, and the reasons mostly boil down to land and capital, said Terra Brockman, founder of Bloomington-based agricultural organization, The Land Connection."

But once these new young farmers are in the game, what do we do to help them grow their businesses?  Sure there are farmer's markets and CSA programs, but I'm convinced we need smaller scale, appropriately equipped food processing plants to move the bounty of these small farms into the wider marketplace year round.

“There’s never been a public more conscious about their eating habits,” he (Dylan Cook) said. “For what it is, it’s never been easier. We just need more farmers.”

The demand for regional foods and specialty foods has never been higher.  Unless we provide our new farms the processing plants to take their foods to market year round we are not going to solve this problem.

Farming can be tough road to hoe for the young.  Bloomington (IL)

The Land Connection.  Healthy farms and healthy food for beautiful Central Illinois.  Great work Terra and friends.

Photo for a Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen farm customer marketing their produce year round.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Costco: Private Label Only Gets Bigger" - Why contract food manufacturing matters.

Smart North American businesses are increasingly selling food products under their own private labels.

This is not a trend, it's a fact.  The European food system has been perfecting this model for decades.  Now we are catching up.

This is a huge opportunity for  contract food processors.

Here is a good article and quote from Costco's CEO backing this up:

“'I think the private label or controlled label, as long as it's quality, is going to become a bigger part of the business,' said Costco CEO Craig Jelinek..."

"When we first went to it about 22 years ago, it was very slow, but now anything that we put Kirkland Signature brand on, people are not concerned about trying it.”

For any business organization that wants to be connected to regional or specialty foods, now is the time to look at having products made and sold under your own private label. 

Costco:  Private Label Only Gets Bigger .  Store Brands / Decisions.  August 27, 2013

Photo is from the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen preparing local foods for a private label customer. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

"Q: What makes an entrepreneur great?" MIT Technology Review.

"Everyone I know has their own style.  The unifying characteristics are all the same:  drive, inability to play well with others, decisiveness, general indifference to reason on occasion."

The quote above is from Max Levchin, entrepreneur, tech leader, and founder of several companies including PayPal.

Mr. Levchin opens the Entrepreneurs section of MIT Technology Review's current article '35 Innovators Under 35'.

The quote is in the current MIT Technology Review, Sept/Oct 2013 - Creative Destruction.


Photos from a creative new food entrepreneur working through the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Here comes The Conscious Carnivore!

My friend Bartlett Durand and his amazing Black Earth Meats team just celebrated the arrival of their first retail store in Madison, The Conscious Carnivore.  Opening soon.

The Conscious Carnivore specializes in No Antibiotic No Hormone Local Beef, Pork and Chicken.

My family loves Black Earth Meats.  Everything about their food is wonderful.  Their story just keeps getting better.

We look forward to shopping at the Conscious Carnivore and introducing friends to this great story.

Congratulations Bartlett and all involved!

The Conscious Carnivore

Black Earth Meats

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Female Face of Farming - 1 million women working the land

We are seeing many more women farmers as we develop our commercial food processing operations at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen and elsewhere.

There was a good article and photo essay recently in Modern Farmer Magazine titled 'Photographing the Female Face of Farming'.

This is an important quote from the article:

"...the number of women-operated farms had more than doubled between 1982 and 2007. If you add primary and secondary operators, women make up 30 percent of U.S. farmers, with nearly 1 million women working the land."

This photo is my friend Christine from Solveien Farm delivering produce to the Innovation Kitchen for light preparation and freezing for commercial markets.

The Innovation Kitchen model is creating new and profitable opportunities for farms, food businesses and people who support sustainable food.  Congratulations Christine. You're one in a million!  

Photographing the Female Face of Farming.  Modern Farmer Magazine, Aug 29, 2013, Lori Rotenberk.   Photographer Marji Guyler-Alaniz

Solveien Farm - Albany, WI area

Friday, September 06, 2013

Putting America Back To Work - "Consumers are hungry for a sense of community. (Locally made) goods have a distinctive character and authenticity."

Parade Magazine did a great Labor Day issue about putting America back to work.

Many ideas focused on opportunities in regional and local commerce.

"Consumers are hungry for a sense of community.  (Locally made) goods have a distinctive character and authenticity."  - Rajeev Batra, PH.D, University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

I think this argument is especially valuable in the world of local, regional and specialty foods.

Putting America Back to Work:  5 Ways 'Made in the USA' Is Staging a Comeback.  Parade Magazine Sept 1, 2013

Photo credit:  Michael Edwards and Parade Magazine