It’s never been a better time to start a food-processing business.
Where in years gone by there were nothing but barriers, now more grocery stores are keen to stock locally produced products, says a Manitoba Agriculture business development specialist.
Gone are expensive listing fees to buy shelf space in stores, and you won’t find yourself facing daunting presentations with skeptical category managers either, Jeff Fidyk told St. Jean Farm Days.
The whole process has become very friendly for small-scale companies, with stores across Manitoba now actively looking for entrepreneurs with a product to sell, he said.
[AUDIO CLIP below] Many think selling to a store is expensive and difficult to do, but Jeff Fidyk, business development specialist with Manitoba Agriculture tells St. Jean Farm Days it’s not nearly as complicated or costly as it might seem.
“This is actually a wonderful time for someone to sell a local product,” he said.
“Safeway and Sobeys stores have initiatives right now where they’re actively looking for new, local food products to bring into their stores,” he said.
Red River Co-ops in Winnipeg and the Federated Co-ops throughout the rest of Manitoba likewise are very keen to hear from new product makers, he said.
Fidyk is with provincial Food Commercialization and Agri-Product Processing Branch and gave a talk at the early-January farm show on some of the reasons farmers in Manitoba should think about starting up a secondary value-added business on their farm.
These stores recognize that locally grown and processed foods are in high demand, and are keen to stock them for customers, he said.
Their staff are more than willing to work with new entrepreneurs, he told the farm meeting.
You also needn’t be producing large volume of products to get a meeting, he said. They’ll be interested to hear from you even if you have limited product to sell.
“If your capacity right now is such that you can only supply one store, they’re perfectly happy to work with you and to get your product into that one store,” he said, adding the goal there is to help you increase sales and production capacity so you can supply more in the longer term.
Sales in stores have specific food safety, packaging and labelling requirements which Manitoba Agriculture staff can help you figure out, Fidyk added
Fidyk will conduct several workshops in February on how to set prices, decide how much to produce, plan for associated costs, create sales materials and make pitches to stores for your product.
Dates and locations of workshops is found at the Manitoba government website (PDF).