PULLMAN, Wash. — Many people who create a new food product for sale begin in the wrong place and are likely to lose money, but Washington State University is designing educational products that will improve the chances for success in starting up a food-related business.
WSU food scientist Sandra G. Brown teamed up with Aaron Johnson, of the Oregon State University Food Innovation Center, to design Food Business 101, a four-hour seminar that gives an overview of what it takes to produce a food product for sale.
The seminar grew out of Brown’s recent professional leave during which she investigated ways to help food entrepreneurs succeed.
“Many times when a person has an idea to create a new food product for market, it is an item that their friends and family enjoy and think others in the world would also. They usually start by contacting the local health department for information on where they can make the product and get necessary licensing,” Brown said.
While that’s a necessary step in launching a food-based business, Brown says it’s not the place to start.
“Their focus is solely on making the food product and then figuring out how to begin selling it,” Brown said. “They do not take the time to find out who the target consumer is, where they shop, how much they are willing to pay for it, and would they buy it repeatedly.”
WSU’s Food Business 101 seminar gives an overview of the process of launching such a business. Anyone who would like to attend a seminar should contact their local WSU Cooperative Extension county office.
A Web-based training site is being developed with launch planned by January 2004, Brown said.
The state agriculture department also has a food processing handbook and other publications that help guide entrepreneurs.
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