Sign up for “Food for Profit” by April 2


Value Added Strawberries

Strawberries are among the most popular produce used to create value-added processed foods like jams and pastries.  Photo courtesy UT Extension's Center for Profitable Agriculture.




SPRINGHILL, TENN. — Jams and jellies, salsas and chow chows, juices and wines, breads and pies — whether they are canned, pickled, dried, baked, fermented, frozen or otherwise prepared, Megan Bruch, marketing specialist with University of Tennessee Extension’s Center for Profitable Agriculture, says these popular value-added retail items are all categorizes as “processed foods,” and growers and entrepreneurs who have an interest in selling processed foods need to approach the business with a solid business model that includes marketing, regulations and food safety.

“We’ve been asked about it all,” said Bruch. “Sometimes fruit and vegetable growers have surplus produce or less-than-best-quality produce that would normally go to waste, and they want to add value to that product by making it into something else. Other times, a producer has a recipe revered by family and friends that they want to make and market to the public. They may call us or another Extension agent or specialist to learn how to get started.”

“Starting a food processing business is often challenging,” according to Faith Critzer, assistant professor in the UT Department of Food Science and Technology. “Just understanding which regulations apply to each product can be confusing.”

To help fruit and vegetable producers interested in starting their own food processing enterprises, UT Extension is partnering with Pennsylvania State Extension to bring their popular food processing education program to Tennessee. Food for Profit workshops take participants step by step through the information necessary to start and run a small food product business. The workshop provides information that participants will be able to use immediately to ensure that their business starts out and grows in a way that matches their vision and goals. Topics covered include the realities of a food business by a local food manufacturer, regulatory requirements, packaging, safe food handling, marketing, financing, and developing a game plan.

The workshop will be offered in three locations across the state. Food for Profit will be offered April 8 in Alcoa, April 9 in Chattanooga and April 10 in Murfreesboro. Pre-registration is required and must be received by April 2. There is a registration fee of $30 per person.

Workshops are limited to 25 participants per location. Workshops not having an adequate number of registrations by the early registration deadline may be cancelled. Sessions will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. local time. Lunch will be provided.

This workshop qualifies as one course toward the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program educational requirements to receive 50 percent TAEP cost share for ONLY: Fruits and Vegetables and Value-Added diversification sectors. The workshops are being funded, in part, by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture through a Specialty Crop Block Grant and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE).

For more information about these workshops or to register on-line, visit the Center for Profitable Agriculture website at
http://ag.tennessee.edu/cpa and click on “Educational Events.” Contact Megan Bruch with questions at 931-486-2777 or mlbruch@utk.edu.

The Center for Profitable Agriculture is a cooperative effort between UT Extension and the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the UT Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.

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Contact:

Megan Bruch, Center for Profitable Agriculture, 931-486-2777, mlbruch@utk.edu

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