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Starting a New Food Business Workshop 2019

Starting a New Food Business hosted its 10th annual workshop September 3-4, 2019 in Marietta, GA. This workshop addressed many concerns of the Georgia’s food entrepreneurs who are just getting started. Workshop participants’ products ranged from pepper jams, roasted pecans, low sugar cakes to delicious salsa. In this two-day workshop, participants learned the best practices for developing their products, branding and marketing strategies,  and including their potential customer demographics.

The first day of the workshop hosted presenters from the UGA Extension faculty and Athens’ Small Business Development Center. Dr. Anand Mohan, Associate Professor and course coordinator, started the course with his presentation, “Am I a Food Entrepreneur”. This presentation listed the characteristics of a food entrepreneur and explained the participants “what is your why” for starting a new food business. Attendees also learned that failure could serve as a teachable option to learn how to better manage your business.

Drs. Koushik Adhikari and Kevin Mis Solval, are food science extension specialist from the UGA Griffin Campus. They presented “Product Development and Acceptability” talk with a hands-on group project.

Participants were grouped into 5 sub-groups and tasked to develop 3 different products: BBQ Sauce, Fresh Salsa, and Jam. Their task was to create a plan to develop their product. One of the group’s biggest takeaways was to advertise their food to companies outside of their food category. Dr. Adhikari gave the example of a prominent drink brand using tailgating commercials to promote not only their drink but also BBQ sauces on meat and salsa and chips. These pairings can be very beneficial for both businesses.

The third session of the day was comprised by Dr. Ben Campbell of UGA’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, and David Stob of Athens’ Small Business Development Center. Dr. Campbell’s pricing formula gave participants a new perspective on how to price their products. The method of having all of the components balancing each other out would bring great profit, however, if the product costs less than the amount of money to make it, the product will fail and the producer will not make any profit. Mr. David Stob gave participants ten fundamental steps of creating a business plan.

To end the day, our Program Coordinator of Technical Services, Derell Hardman, facilitated a microbiology lab. This was a hands-on demonstration of employee personal hygiene experiment. Participants learned steps to clean, wash, and sanitize their hands before touching and handling food products and ingredients. For this hands-on demonstration, attendees were given three petri dishes. The first petri contained an imprint of fingers that had not been washed. Next, participants washed their hands and place their fingers on the second dish. Lastly, participants wash their hands and sanitize their hands and imprinted on the third petri dishes. Attendees were surprised to watch bacteria growing on imprinted microbiological plates  with their un-washed and washed hands.  Although they do not know the results, the knowledge gained has encouraged them to wash their hands and sanitize before they enjoyed a delicious BBQ dinner sponsored by Chef Jesse Spikes of Jesse James Outlaw BBQ. He served his infamous ribs, chicken wings, cole-slaw, and potato salad.

Day two started with Mr. Derell Hardman’s presentation on “Food Quality and Shelf Life”. This presentation showed the importance of getting a shelf life test for their product so that microorganisms do not disrupt the quality of the food. Mr. Hardman emphasized to attendees that an analysis as simple as a shelf-life test can determine when a product will lose it’s quality and compositional integrity.

Our next speaker, Linda Mahan and Jeannie Powell, talked about “Getting Your Product into the Marketplace”. Both Mahan and Powell emphasized the importance of labeling products correctly while also being eye-catching. The pair additionally introduced many to the program “Georgia Grown” which was started by Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black. Mahan and Powell explained the requirements to be an official Georgia Grown member which would allow the logo to be placed on their products.

Next on the agenda was Natalie Adan from the Georgia Department of Agriculture. She assured the attendees that the GDA is in place to help them, not to be their enemy. Adan urges them to use the GDA as a resource to stay in compliance with their regulations. She also broke down the different departments of the agency and offered insight on obtaining a cottage license for our attendees who produce non-potentially hazard products.

Dr. Kent Wolfe of UGA’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development presented demographics and statistical figures of consumer preferences on food products in “Knowing Your Customers”. This presentation of comparing millennials and baby boomers allowed participants to understand who would be the main consumer of their products. “An Overview of Intellectual Property” by lawyer Matthew Hoots detailed the twelve trademark regulations that attendees should be aware of before they try to trademark their band. Mr. Hoots was able to show real life examples from his clients as well as other known brands. Lastly, the workshop ended with Julie Farr of Shared Kitchens, Doug Marranci of PrepAtlanta, and Lauren Hatcher with UGA Extension, in the roundtable discussion. They were able to answer questions about the benefits of using a shared kitchen and co-packer. Hatcher also offered advice for using UGA’s FoodPic lab for consumer testing.

The workshop ended with “Taste of Georgia” where participants get to try each other’s products and vote for a People’s Choice. This year, we had three first place winners: Celebrity Fit Lifestyle, Chef J, Nonna’s Nuts, and Old Mountain Top Farms. Our next Starting a New Food Business Workshop will be held April 7-8, 2020.

View workshop pictures here:  Workshop Pictures

Food Science and Technology Extension express their sincere thanks to Cobb County FACS Agent Zohregul Soltanmammedova (Zoe), Jeff Miller (Extension Coordinator – Northwest District), Kisha Faulk (FACS Program Development Coordinator, Northwest District) Asha Mathis and Derell Hardman for their valuable contributions.