Cookies, cakes, fruits, nuts, jams, jellies, crackers, chips, pancakes, sauces, meats, seafood, mushrooms, organic, local, homemade – is your mouth watering yet? These are just a few of what we know as specialty food items – those delectable tidbits we fill up our grocery cart with or send to friends and family on special occasions.

The specialty food business has $140.3 billion in sales, and is growing in leaps and bounds at ten percent or more, year over year.  If you’ve got an old family recipe, a jam, jelly, baked good that is always a hit with friends, if you want to expand your current food business or restaurant, or you just have a fantastic niche food idea you know will make taste buds water – this is the time to grab your piece of the pie.

Specialty food items are increasingly desirable to consumers – dollar sales for specialty food items grew 12.9 percent, versus only 1.4 percent growth for all food. This means now is the time to capitalize on your food idea – like Corrina Pena did. She’s the owner of Frosted – a bakery in Fort Bragg. She started her business and came to West Business Development Center for free advising. Her advisor encouraged her to approach Harvest Market with her specialty food item – they responded enthusiastically and you can now find her shortbread and biscotti stocked on Harvest Market’s shelves. “That was huge! West Company really helped me out of my comfort zone in a positive way,†says Pena.

Our workshop leader and advisor, Anni Minuzzo, is a culinary and food specialty veteran. She has more than 30 years of experience in the specialty food and beverage industry, after her owning her own wholesale baking company and selling her product to Williams-Sonoma, Dean & Deluca, Neiman-Marcus, Whole Foods, and 1-800-FLOWERS. She will teach you the ins and outs of the business so you can create a profitable and thriving enterprise.

Topics covered in this three-hour workshop include:

  • Current and future specialty food trends

  • Licenses, fees and certifications to get started

  • Feasibility studies

  • Production and planning

  • Contacts for getting started selling your product

  • Marketing

  • Distribution and sales networks

This workshop will give you handouts with resources, worksheets and references you can take home. You will then be able to connect with a West Business Advisor for free if you are thinking of starting up your own food-based business.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

12:00 PM 3:00 PM

Mendocino Community College – Lakeport Branch Rm 7140

2565 Parallel Drive

Lakeport, CA 95453 (map)

To register for this workshop click here.

*The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2018, The Specialty Food Association