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Growing A Successful Retail Food Co-op By Meeting Your Member’s Needs

Growing A Successful Retail Food Co-op By Meeting Your Member’s Needs

The Great Basin Community Food Co-op serves the Reno, Nevada area. The co-op started as a private buying club and was initially located in the back of a punk record store, but continued to grow their sales and members. In 2008, they opened to the public in downtown Reno with 500 feet of retail space, eventually hitting $1 million in sales in one year. In 2012 they moved to another 3-story location of about 3,000 square feet (on the main floor) even closer to downtown. In 2017, the store had about $4.5 million in sales after rapid growth in previous years. The best way for aspiring co-ops to be successful is by reaching out to their community and meeting their members’ needs. In addition, co-ops should focus on their honing their core priorities so that so they don’t get off track, building capacity and buy-in with a core group of people.

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Focused Prioritization Helps Good Food And Farm Businesses Reach Break-Even

Focused Prioritization Helps Good Food And Farm Businesses Reach Break-Even

Food entrepreneurs will always have lots of goals competing for their attention. Given that food entrepreneurs have many “big, hairy, audacious goals,” it is worth noting that certain goals should have more priority over others, depending on the stage of the entrepreneur. For example, many food entrepreneurs want their business to reflect their social impact goals. But they shouldn’t do this to the exclusion of the brand building necessary to tell that impact story (and capitalize on it with a premium price) or the long-term financial viability of their business. The good entrepreneurs know how to prioritize goals and optimize their efforts for the goals they are pursuing as priorities. This allows them to build financially successful companies and, over time, pursue many more “big, hairy, audacious goals” than they would have otherwise.

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The Farmer Education Continuum In The Colorado Mountains

The Farmer Education Continuum In The Colorado Mountains

The Old Fort at Hesperus’ team sees farming education as a continuum where different people are best served by discreet programs, depending on their interests and stage of development. Their sustainable agriculture program includes an educational garden internship, a farmer-in-training program, and market garden incubator. The incubator program provides educational classes, mentorship, access to land, water, infrastructure (irrigation, harvest sheds, cooler and root cellar), and marketing assistance to aspiring farmers who are either in business or ready to start their own farming business. Their Education Garden is a ½ acre production and demonstration garden devoted to giving Fort Lewis College interns an introduction to small-scale sustainable farming through about 120-150 hours of hands-on work. In addition, their Farmer-in-Training (FIT) program is a stepping-stone between an internship and owning an independent business selling produce.

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Why Private Label Might Be A Great Business Decision

Why Private Label Might Be A Great Business Decision

The average full grocery store has nearly 40,000 SKUs i.e. products that it offers to consumers. Consumers have more choices than ever about what food they buy and where they buy it. But, it is becoming more difficult and expensive for new food brands to build meaningful relationships with them as the marketplace becomes more saturated. To capture more customer value, grocery stores have introduced their own branded products alongside others that they bring in on their shelves, often referred to as “private label” products. While private label products’ market share has held steady at about 18% in recent years, private label brands are now growing faster than traditional manufactured food brands. If food companies have manufacturing capabilities, making private label products can be a valuable part of their business model as they build their customer relationships, maximize production efficiency and diversify revenue streams.

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How Tribe 9 Foods Balances Economies Of Scale With A Changing Marketplace

How Tribe 9 Foods Balances Economies Of Scale With A Changing Marketplace

Tribe 9 Foods is the result of merging Yumbutter, RP’s Pasta and Ona Treats. The new company also secured growth capital to bring manufacturing in-house for all three brands, something that has allowed them to have control over batch timing, batch size and product quality. In addition, in-house production allows them the flexibility to try new things and have a co-packing line of business for their core product types (nut butters, pasta, bars). Yumbutter’s team brings experience in branding/marketing and RP’s team brings experience in innovative food manufacturing and food safety protocols, allowing them to combine flexibility with economies of scale while serving multiple types of customers with their co-packing service. Tribe 9 is always looking to be flexible and nimble, diversifying as the market changes and as everyone tries to figure out a more sustainable way to produce and distribute high quality food.

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Should I Manufacture Food In-House Or Use A Co-Packer?

Should I Manufacture Food In-House Or Use A Co-Packer?

It can be a big leap to think about producing larger quantities of food when entrepreneurs are used to home production or commercial kitchens, where the batch size and financial outlay are relatively small, and operational processes are simple. However, if food businesses are considering going into wide-scale distribution in grocery stores and they want to be profitable (hopefully, they do!), they will need the capacity to produce their food at scale. The inevitable question these entrepreneurs face then is “should I manufacture food in-house or use a co-packer?” This question can be difficult to navigate for new food producers, especially because there is not a hard and fast answer. The food entrepreneur’s business model, stage of business, financing capacity (i.e. how well they can raise money) and the availability of co-packing capacity for their specific needs all make a difference in deciding how to answer that question.

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Angela Mavridis Of TRIBALÍ Foods On Resonating With Your Tribe

Angela Mavridis Of TRIBALÍ Foods On Resonating With Your Tribe

TRIBALÍ foods is a national brand of freshly made, frozen grass-fed and grass-finished beef patties. TRIBALÍ’s products resonate with the “tribe” of people who are looking for convenient, easy ways to eat whole, nutrient dense and ethically raised foods. Their clean, simple packaging that communicates their organic, grass-fed and Paleo certifications stands out on the freezer shelf and helps communicate their brand’s promise to that tribe. TRIBALÍ has worked hard to find the right partners – like co-packers that understand their brand’s defensibly unique product quality – to help scale their brand. Angela Mavridis, TRIBALÍ’s founder and CEO reflects that the investor pitch process forces you to learn every single aspect of the business to anticipate questions about your competition, your brand’s potential in your category / current marketplace and about how you can deliver on your business model to meet the goals of your company and investors.

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Build The Brand, Build The Food Business Ecosystem

Build The Brand, Build The Food Business Ecosystem

Good brand building is built on an understanding of your target customer and what problems you are solving for them. While it is not the only thing that is needed to build a successful business, those consumer relationships are the lifeblood of all food businesses. Brand building takes hard work. However, once that work is done, food businesses often find that the other actors in the ecosystem want to build better business relationships with them because they built those key relationships with customers to sustain their business.

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How Union Kitchen’s Ecosystem Helps Build Profitable Food Businesses

How Union Kitchen’s Ecosystem Helps Build Profitable Food Businesses

Union Kitchen is a shared-use kitchen and food business accelerator in in Washington D.C. While having a shared-use kitchen eliminates the need for capital for kitchen equipment, there are many other things food businesses need to raise capital for, which why they have distribution and retail outlets as part of their model. Their vertically integrated business and infrastructure – the kitchen, distribution and retail outlets – pairs with its accelerator program, which includes technical assistance, mentorship, classes and other means to help its members be successful. They have worked with over 400 businesses that have hired over 1,000 people and of those 400, 80 have opened their own storefronts. The financial community is more willing to provide capital to their member businesses because their ecosystem has allowed their members to prove that their products have traction in the marketplace and their operations are solid.

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Grants, Loans, Investments…Welcome To The Food Funding Ecosystem!

Grants, Loans, Investments…Welcome To The Food Funding Ecosystem!

While food businesses are developing their big, brilliant idea (and hopefully executing on it), it can be easy to forget that they are one actor in a larger entrepreneurial ecosystem. This ecosystem includes other entrepreneurs, suppliers, farmers, co-packers, funders, accelerators, incubators, consultants, retailers and consumers. To come up with a realistic strategy for action and growth, food entrepreneurs should make efforts to understand this entrepreneurial ecosystem and whether grants, loans, investments or a combination of capital sources makes sense to fund their growth. Only then can food entrepreneurs plant the seeds for a profitable and sustainable food business.

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